Taking a drug intravenously means putting a substance into a needle, plunging that needle into the body, and releasing that drug into the bloodstream. Almost any drug could be used in this way, including heroin, crack cocaine and even prescription painkillers, and many people who use drugs consider the high brought about after intravenous injection to be the most intense. That’s because this method allows all of the drug’s power to hit the brain at once, rather than being diluted and delayed by internal organs like the lungs or stomach. Unfortunately, this method of drug abuse also comes with some dangerous side effects, including infections.
Common Injectable Problems
People who abuse drugs with a needle often do so in an unsterile environment. They may not clean the surface of the skin before they inject drugs, and the drugs they inject might be filled with all sorts of bacteria. Not surprisingly, infections at the site of the injection are incredibly common. In fact, in an article in the journal Infectious Disease Clinics of North America, experts suggest that standard soft-tissue infections are the most common cause of hospital admissions among IV drug users.
Infections like this can be quite serious, as they can rage beneath the skin and cause swelling, pain and tissue death. Thankfully, they can often be successfully treated with oral antibiotics and procedures that remove dead tissue. People might emerge from these episodes with scars, but they might have their health.
Basic bacterial infections aren’t the only type of problem that people who use IV drugs might face. There are a number of infections that can slip from one body to another with a needle, including:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
In some cases, people obtain these infections because they share needles with others, and those sharing partners have an infection. However, some people get these infections due to the way in which they behave while they’re high. For example, a study in the Western Journal of Medicine found that 27 percent of young drug users were likely to share needles, but of those IV drug users, 59 percent reported having more than two sexual partners in six months. These users may have obtained their infections through their sexual practices, as well as their use of needles.
Infections like this are harder to treat than simple bacterial infections. Sometimes treatments can help to stem the tide of the infection, but sometimes these infections remain within the person’s body for life, and if that person continues to share needles, others could become infected.
Treating an Addiction
Infections caused by injecting drugs can be serious, and these conditions tend to get worse if they’re neglected for long periods of time. Unfortunately, it’s hard for addicted people to get the right kind of medical help until they deal with their addictions. When that addiction is in place, getting and using drugs is the only thing that matters. Treatment can help to break that spell.
At Black Bear Lodge, we can help. Our trained clinicians can help the person you love to understand why sobriety is so important, and our treatments can help to bring a lasting sobriety to life. Please call us, and we’ll tell you more.