Health Risks of IV Drug Use

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Last Updated on May 15, 2021 by

There are various ways IV Drug Use spreads throughout society. A user may ingest, snort, smoke, or inject drugs as a form of self-medicating. Injections of liquids are given intravenously with the assistance of a syringe connected to a needle. Injected medications can be injected intravenously, intramuscularly, or subcutaneously. Approximately 16 million people in the world inject narcotics each day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), narcotics cause various forms of pain.

Injectables Include:

  • Methamphetamines 
  • Heroin
  • Prescription drugs 
  • Cocaine

Except Marijuana all other types of drugs can be injected, heroin is the most rampant. There are various methods through which drugs are produced in tablet form, including ground seed into powder and dissolved in a liquid for injection. There are several health risks and concerns associated with IV drug use since this is the most common form of intravenous drug abuse.

Drug Overdose

Many prescription drugs contain a built-in safety feature known as a time-release mechanism, and crumbling these products to dissolve and inject them intravenously disremembers this safety feature. A person receiving IV medication gets the drug straight into the bloodstream, hopping over the blood-brain barrier while in the process. It is often the case that the effects of the medication, and their results, can be experienced almost instantly.

A Rutgers University study reported how a drug takes effect after being administered IV varies from 15 to 30 seconds compared to between three and five minutes when snorting the same drug. Since there is a great risk of overdosing with IV drug use, users put their bodies at risk of suffering from an overdose if they try to take too many medications at once. When many pills are crushed and injected, they are often laced with other drugs or additives, resulting in toxic interactions in the body.

I am taking the drug many times in a single dose results in a dangerous level of brain and body overdose.

Risk of Overdose

The risks of overdosing greatly increase when drugs are injected directly into the bloodstream. As a result of the rapid action of the high and the severity of the effects, abusers also find it difficult to assess how much of the drug they are injecting into their bloodstream. Those who use intravenous drugs are at a higher risk of overdosing on a substance than those who usually take them in a manner other than by intravenous injection. These overdoses can cause difficult-to-treat complications or even death.

Even though it is widely emphasized that IV drug use can provide a very extreme high, few are fully aware of the risks since none are informed of the consequences associated with this action. I.V. drug use can affect recreational and addicted users, with scarring and life-threatening injuries. Cocaine abuse is often referred to as a stimulant.

Here Are Some Common Signs of An Overdose

  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Differential pupil size or behaviour
  • Convulsions or tremors
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart rate fluctuation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increase in blood pressure 
  • Temperature changes in the body
  • Drowsiness
  • Uncertainty
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Perplexity
  • Sweating 
  • Effervescence
  • Unconsciousness
  • Depression 
  • Hostility or abuse
  • A feeling of unease
  • Death 

You should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you are experiencing a drug overdose since this is an emergency. You also need to make sure that your medical practitioners know what kind of medication you’ve taken to reverse their effects. In the United States, overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths at 120 per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdosing on IV drug use is associated with an increased rate of fatal overdoses.

A High Risk of Serious Health Issues Results from Iv Drug Use

Many opioid addictions develop through indirect administration methods, such as smoking or ingesting the drug, rather than directly using it. However, as addiction worsens as addicts chase faster highs, they will become most likely to consider (or start) taking intravenous distribution (as IV Drug use is called) of drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

People who practice IV drug use choose this method because of its more immediate effects. Thus it tends to be more practical as well. Few people are aware or accept that injecting drugs can have serious and irreversible adverse effects such as incurring permanent or severe physical disabilities. Thus, injecting drugs is a dangerous activity. Issuance of syringes with drugs because of the use of a needle or syringe results in the risk of infectious diseases, poisoning, and cardiovascular disease.

Various Health Consequences

Wrong IV Drug user is at greater risk of death from a life-threatening overdose if he or she misuses an IV and contracting infectious diseases like HIV, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), which currently has no cure. AIDS cases in the United States were attributed to injected drug use, according to UCSF’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.

Also, many IV drug users, especially those who share needles, contribute to HIV transmission by sharing blood or body fluids. Besides hepatitis B and hepatitis C are essentially hepatitis forms, sharing IV supplies can also lead to cirrhosis. Transmitting blood-borne illnesses through sharing needles or failing to sanitize equipment can lead to hepatitis and HIV. The number of people infected with HIV remains low, but it remains an important health risk in areas where intravenous drug use is common.

A study by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) indicates that up to sixty per cent of cases of hepatitis C in the United States may be brought on by intravenous drug use.

The IV drug use makes skin infections more likely, and of course, IV users don’t take all the drugs they use. For example, an article in the British Journal for Dermatology reports that 89 per cent of seized injected narcotics had pathogens present, and 68 per cent of heroin from the streets contained multiple types of pathogens. IV drug users suffer from skin infections or abscesses due to pathogens, including bacteria and fungi.

It is important to follow proper sterilization procedures when utilizing needles and syringes to inject drugs since inaccurate sanitation practices may increase the risk of bacterial infections. It’s called “track marks” when needle addiction causes chronic vascular scarring, as well.

Abscesses and Skin Infections

Intravenous drug users with skin infections often have at least one abscess in the past six months, with 11% of them divulging at least one abscess in the past six months. A report claims that up to 89 per cent of street drugs are infected with at least one pathogen. More specifically, the report indicates that 61 per cent of heroin samples contained 160-37,000 species of bacteria and fungi.

Combine non-sterile objects and inadequate hygiene, and bacteria from liquids increases the risk of an abscess or a skin infection much more significantly than did contaminated objects by themselves. Cleaning the skin and sterilizing the needles may reduce the risk of an abscess, but they cannot prevent toxins from the medications from causing side effects.

Besides the Risks Listed Above, There Are Also the Following:

  • Endocarditis: Regular use of intravenous drugs can lead to endocarditis, an inflammatory disease of the heart’s inner lining, which may manifest itself as a condition characterized by a thickened, reddened or swollen tissue. The right-sided heart valves become infected by endocarditis when drugs are injected into right-side veins. Poorly sanitized needles can also contaminate the bloodstream with bacteria, resulting in endocarditis. The infection in the endocardium is harmful to the tissues and valves of the heart. If left untreated, the disease can cause damage to the heart valves and lead to life-threatening complications.
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)Research in Nursing & Health found that 87.7% of IV drug users were symptomatic, R-N-H reported.
  • Thrombosis: A vein clot can lead to damage or blockage.
  • Musculoskeletal infections: A septic arthritis outbreak is caused by an infection that occurs mainly in bones and joints, such as osteomyelitis.
  • Addiction or Substance Abuse Disorder

Through the indirect use of intravenous drugs, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, or other sexually transmitted diseases may be caused. Moreover, substance abuse can have definite adverse effects on the user’s health and life. It is important to remember that drugs similar to opioids can have detrimental effects on the central nervous system, including terribly low heart rates, respiration, blood pressure, and body temperatures, in addition to long-term damage to the respiratory system and cardiovascular system.

Several things can arise due to repeated substance abuse, such as heart problems, respiratory issues, liver and kidney problems, seizures, collapsed veins, insomnia, fatigue and a compromised immune system, among others.

Substance abuse also has a psychological impact on the body. The possible side effects include depression, irritability, anger, anxiety, heightened risk-taking behavior, violence, inability to feel pleasure, hallucinations, impaired comprehension, and judgment.

Addiction

The use of intravenous opioids is linked to a higher risk to the individual developing a substance abuse problem than people who misuse drugs in other ways. Addiction to drugs over time causes tolerance, so you have to take more to get the same effects. The brain becomes dependent on the medication for normal functioning if you use more and more drugs. Addiction to substances such as drugs can lead to dependency and eventually lead to drug dependency.

A person who is addicted to drugs seeks these substances regardless of the negative social, emotional, and physical effects they are likely to experience. Addiction persists over a long period due to recurrent occurrences of the addiction. There are several warning signs of addiction, including a decline in school or work performance and a failure to meet family expectations.

As a result of their addiction, addicts may become socially isolated, and they may spend more time travelling from place to place and removing themselves from the drug’s effects. There are reduced or eliminated recreational and social occasions that used to be enjoyed by the community as a whole. The fact that addiction is very treatable and that it frequently necessitates intensive care such as treatment, support groups, and, in some cases, assisted rehabilitation using drugs.

A Harm-Reduction Outreach Program

Many cities, counties, and states adopt community outreach programs to manage opioid addiction and substance abuse effectively. Communities with a community outreach centre may provide educational opportunities, substance tests, referrals and transportation to outside treatment facilities, on-site outpatient care, HIV screenings and treatment, prevention programs, and family and peer support groups.

By participating in harm reduction programs such as needle and syringe exchange programs, IV drug users can receive clean and sterile needles, reducing the risk of infecting others with infectious diseases.

While NES is more common in other countries than in the United States, it continues to be a contentious practice here in the United States. In the United States, there are currently 210 NES programs. According to NPR, these programs have reduced HIV infections in New York City, injecting drug addicts to around 150 a year instead of 13,000 during the height of the epidemic linked to drugs.

Getting Rid of The Drugs

Treatment of opioid addiction often entails medical manipulation of the brain with implanted medication to replace the body’s natural opioid molecules. Methadone is another opioid with a long-lasting action that is not as powerful as heroin. In Methadone Clinics funded by a federal program that relies on paid patient volunteers to administer methadone, heroin addicts are assisted and assisted with dealing with the unpleasant withdrawal effects of quitting heroin. Methadone is an oral solution that doesn’t affect the same way as heroin but helps block opioid receptors from consuming other opioids.

Most methadone maintenance programs aim to address harm reduction by keeping addicts from committing additional crimes like injecting street drugs. Although methadone is not a narcotic, it carries the potential for abuse and dependency since it is also one of the most commonly abused narcotics.

It was passed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through Drug Abuse Treatment Act (DATA) in the year 2000. As recent data shows, the amount of buprenorphine being prescribed by doctors’ offices in recent years has been increasing. These drugs can provide even greater success than methadone, and in some cases, without the potentially dangerous side effects of methadone.

A partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine, stimulates opioid receptors and more active opioids without producing a high. Buprenorphine, also known as buprenorphine, is often associated with a plateau after a certain duration of time, thus lowering the risk of violence. In the body, buprenorphine is mainly found in two formulations, Suboxone and Subutex. In addition to Suboxone, Subutex also contains the opioid antagonist naloxone, which activates opioid receptors and prevents the body from responding to other opioids, while Suboxone is only buprenorphine alone.

Treatment of Substance Abuse

The best way to ensure that the health risks associated with IV drug use are minimized is to ensure that the patient enters a long-term rehabilitation and abstinence program focused on addiction treatment and long-term rehabilitation. If you have been taking intravenous drugs for a long time, you may need to undergo a detoxification procedure first. In detox, it is the removal of toxic substances from the body, including the use of drugs to help stabilize the brain and body. The withdrawal symptoms during detox can sometimes be treated with medications.

After an individual has recovered physically from drug abuse, he or she will proceed with treatment that includes behavioural therapy and rehabilitation sessions to focus on the psychological aspects of addiction. To learn how to cope and handle emotional, social, and environmental stimuli when returning to daily life, a person must learn how to deal with and handle them when returning to daily life. This therapy aims to turn on one’s inner light and balance one’s mind. It is generally referred to as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

It is not uncommon for IV drug users to disregard their physical appearance. Many wellness and recovery programs focus on positive lifestyle changes, including eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Addicts with substance abuse disorders often benefit from support groups, family counselling, and education.

Considering that approximately half of the opioid users still have an untreated mental illness, National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI claims that the amount of opioid users in the United States is rising. They claim that more and more people are turning to alternative medications that are less addictive. Advanced integrated care is the most effective treatment for this dual condition. Using a dual diagnosis treatment model, both health conditions are treated simultaneously, each as a different problem. A team of medical professionals implements evidence-based care programs.

An evidence-based IV Drug use treatment program takes personal interests and scientific and professional information, and professional experience into account but does not require one to follow the same treatment (that works for one individual may not work for another). It varies based on several factors, including genetics, environment, the number of drugs consumed, past substance abuse, physical dependency, and psychological dependency.

The best treatment centers offer comprehensive care and treatment models to minimize the chances of relapse or avert the severity. You can take several steps to ensure that you can get on the road to recovery. Please feel free to contact our Admissions Coordinators for additional information or if you have any questions. Please contact us at 615-490-9376 right away if you would like to schedule a meeting on matters concerning IV Drug use and much more.