IV Drug Use, Signs and Symptoms

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Drug users who began with other routes of administration often turn to the intravenous method when desperately looking for a more immediate high. The intravenous method being IV Drug Use.

Symptoms Associated with Possible IV Drug Use

Common signs of IV drug use, signs and symptoms are: track marks on arms, wearing long sleeves (especially in warm weather), sudden neglect of responsibilities and hygiene, irritability, anxiety, hyperactivity or lethargy, swollen hands or feet, abscesses, staph infections, collapsed veins. Some items you may find that is often associated are syringes, bloodstained tissues or water, bent and/or burned spoons, aluminum foil with burn marks, isolated shoelaces (used to tie off injection site), q-tips, and cotton balls.

What Other Illnesses are Associated with IV Drug Use?

There are a number of illnesses and infections that can cause major health risks due to IV drug use. Staph infections are the most commonly seen related infections, untreated these infections can spread to the lung and cause pneumonia-like symptoms. Abscesses are a commonly seen health risk of IV drug users and are characterized by a large, tender mass filled with pus and bacteria. Botulism causes paralysis of the muscles and can lead to blurred vision, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin that can lead to necrotizing, facilities, and blood poisoning. Tetanus is a disease caused by bacteria entering a wound. It can cause uncontrollable muscle spasms, “lockjaw” and prevent the brain and other organs from receiving oxygen, resulting in death. Thrombophlebitis is a condition where a blood clot forms in a vein. This can lead to pain, swelling, and septic conditions that can cause renal failure or amputation.

How are IV Drugs Used?

There are a number of tools and methods needed prior to IV drug administration. The drug is mixed with water; often heat is required to dissolve the drug into the water. The drug is often placed on a spoon, tinfoil, or bottom of a soda can and then placed over a flame. Once the drug has dissolved the addict places a filter (cotton ball, q-tip, or cigarette filter) into the spoon or other cooking device, draws up the drug from the filter using a syringe, and then injects the drug into their vein. Tourniquets (belts, shoelaces, etc.) are often used so the addict can successfully locate a vein.

Commonly Injected Legal and Illegal Drugs

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Crack
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opiates
  • Prescription drugs

Seeking Treatment

While all methods used to get high pose serious health risks, IV drug use increases the likelihood of accidental overdose and other health complications not seen with alternative routes of administration. With increased risk of abscesses, collapsed veins, infectious diseases and increased chance of overdose, help is imperative. Injecting drugs provide a more rapid and intense high than other routes of administration. Breaking this addiction is difficult and takes time. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, please seek help immediately, for it is dangerous and can result in death. Emotional and physical recovery from addiction is possible. If you wish to learn more about the risks associated and possible treatment options, please do not hesitate to call us at (888) 357-7577.

 

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