Risks of IV Drug Use

Girl talking about her iv useOn the surface of things, injecting drugs can seem like the best choice in the moment for addicts.

The needles you plunge into your body deliver drugs right where they’re needed, allowing you to bypass the digestive system altogether. If you do inject drugs, you could end up with some very serious health problems. These are just a few of the consequences you might face.

HIV

This viral infection decimates the immune system, leaving you vulnerable to all sorts of infections a healthy body could fight off quite easily. In the early stage of the disease process, medications can help tremendously. With the right cocktail of medications, you could enjoy a healthy life for years, despite your HIV exposure.

Many people who have HIV simply don’t know about their infection status. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that about 14 percent of the people in the United States who have HIV don’t know that they are infected. People like this could grow so ill that drug treatments just don’t work as well as they should.

Needle drugs can cloud your thinking, so you’re less likely to pay attention to early HIV warning signs. Sharing needles and/or engaging in unprotected sex with infected people could put you at risk for getting HIV in the first place.

Hepatitis C

This is another viral infection that could have a huge impact on your long-term health. For some people, the infection only causes transient illness. But for others, hep C infection is persistent, and as it lingers, it causes the tissues of the liver to harden and crack. In time, that organ may stop working altogether, which is a medical condition that can only be cured with a transplant.
Hepatitis C can be transmitted via any route that involves the transfer of one drop of infected blood to a healthy person. That means sexual contact could transfer the infection, as could childbirth. According to the World Health Organization, the most common mode of infection involves unsafe needle practices. That means, if you’re sharing needles, you run a very high risk of getting hepatitis C.

 

Vein Damage

While there are very serious consequences involved with sharing needles, the simple fact of pushing a sharp object through your skin on a daily basis can also be hard on your health. A few of those consequences, as mentioned by the NCHRC, include:

  • Excessive bleeding: Pushing a needle into an artery could lead to a gush of blood that’s hard to stop without medical help.
  • Collapsed veins: Using the same spot, over and over, can cause the veins to simply flatten, which could kill off blood supply to vital tissues.
  • Abscesses: Collapsed or damaged veins that don’t deliver blood can create pockets of starved, dying tissues.
  • Clotting: If you’re using the same injection spot, you could tap an existing clot and force it loose. That clot could move to your heart, brain, or lungs, and that could cause death.

There are things you can do to reduce your injection risks, of course, but the NCHRC points out that there’s no way to make needle drugs 100 percent safe. Every dose comes with risks you really can’t avoid.

If you’d like to stop using needle drugs, call us at The Oaks at La Paloma. Our treatment programs can provide healing, and we’re always here to help. Please call.