‘IV’ drugs, or intravenous drugs, are illicit, prescription, or other drugs that are taken by injecting them directly into the bloodstream. A common example of an intravenous drug would be heroin. There are many other drugs, however, that can be taken intravenously. Taking any type of drug intravenously can be very dangerous and pose severe risks to the health of the user. The effects of intravenous drug use can be direct or comprehensive. In other words, complications can occur at or near the injection site as a result of the needle and injection itself, or they can occur as a result of long-term abuse. Aside from heroin, other drugs that can be injected include methamphetamine, cocaine, or prescription drugs.
IV Drug Abuse
The main reason that someone might choose to begin taking drugs intravenously is that when injected directly into the bloodstream, whatever the drug, will cause that drug to produce instantaneous effects. This greatly increases the risk of dependence and addiction. It also increases the risk of overdose. There are five main complications that can arise from intravenous drug use. These include a weakened immune system, sores or abscesses at or near the injection sites, bacterial infections in the blood vessels and heart valves and the clogging of blood vessels leading to major organs, collapsed or scarred veins, and infections located in organs or soft tissues.
Aside from these complications, another extremely common complication is the increased risk of infectious disease. This is because an infectious disease can be contracted by sharing needles, from the drug itself, through impurities in the drug, or from lack of hygiene (from the skin etc.). HIV, hepatitis, and others are commonly contracted by intravenous drug use.
Signs of IV Drug Abuse
If you feel that a friend or loved one may be using drugs intravenously, there are several signs to look for that can help you to identify intravenous drug use. First of all, there are several items that are considered to be paraphernalia that, when found together, can be a major identifier or ‘red-flag’. These items include acid (like lemon or lime), alcohol and cotton balls, cigarette filters, powdery residue left on hard surfaces, razorblades, spoons, soda cans, foil shaped into a spoon or bowl-like shape, a belt or rubber strap, a lighter or torch and needles or syringes. These are the most common tools found that are used to crush or break-down the substance, prepare it, and inject it. Some other signs to look for include needle marks, scabs, bruises, vascular scarring, cellulitis, skin infection, and inflammation.
Aside from the more physical signs, someone who is suffering from intravenous drug addiction will show behavioral signs that are indicative of addiction. He or she may begin to ‘retract, socially and even lie or become secretive. The individual may also begin to neglect his or her responsibilities such as school, work, or family duties. Similarly, he or she may lose interest in his or her hobbies or other activities. The loss of control over his or her drug use may also cause mood swings, intense cravings, and the inability to communicate well with family about stress or hardship.
If you feel that intravenous drugs such as heroin are an addiction that you or a loved one struggle with, it is important that you know the different heroin addiction treatment options. There are many heroin rehab centers and support groups. Intravenous drugs are extremely dangerous. It is important that if you or someone that you know is using drugs intravenously, you seek help as soon as possible. Any addiction can be overcome. It is a matter of making the choice to begin a healthy life. If you are interested in learning more about treatment for heroin addiction, call New Beginnings today.