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Locate a Top IV Drug Use Treatment Facility

Intravenous drug use is a method of introducing mind-altering substances into the body with an intravenous needle. The IV needle is used to pierce the skin to reach the vein and inject the substance. Drugs may also be introduced into the body by intramuscular or subcutaneous injection. With an intramuscular injection, the drug is introduced into the muscle, while a subcutaneous injection is done directly under the skin, without hitting the vein itself.

Common Slang Terms for IV Drug Use

To prevent detection from outsiders and law enforcement, IV drug users often use slang terms to describe this particular method of getting high. Common slang terms are “shooting up,” “pinning,” “jacking up,” “banging” and “slamming.” Common slang terms for IV drugs themselves include “smack” to describe heroin; “crank,” “meth,” “ice” and “glass” to refer to crystal methamphetamines; and “soda” to describe injectable cocaine.

*What Drugs Are Taken Intravenously?

The most common drugs used among IV users are:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Crystal methamphetamines
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiates
  • Prescription drugs

Prescription drugs taken illegally by injection include everything from barbituates to hydrocodone. According to the statistics published on the National Institute of Drug Abuse website, nearly 16 million people in the United States have abused prescription drugs, using them for a purpose other than what they were prescribed for or going beyond the dosage and recommended method of administration.

How IV Drugs Are Used

The street drug in question is sold in crystal or powder form and then needs to be prepared before injection. The drug is usually dissolved in water on a spoon or the bottom of a soda can and sometimes heated, depending on the drug. Once the drug is properly mixed and dissolved, the user takes a small syringe and draws the solution through a ball of cotton and injects it.

Why Some Drug Users Prefer the Intravenous Method

Drug users who began with pills may have found the high is no longer what they expect so they turn to the intravenous method. IV drug use completely circumvents the digestive system so the high is almost immediate. Huffing and snorting can do damage to delicate mucous membranes and IV drug use avoids this. People with sensitive stomachs may also prefer the IV method.

However, there are serious dangers associated with this method, HIV infection being the most common. According to a published report, single unemployed males between the ages of 30 and 34 are the most at risk for needle-sharing related diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

Health Risks

Though the IV method may be preferred by some drug users, it can also cause serious health complications. The most common being:

  • Increased risk of blood-borne disease. Though sexual intercourse is the number one HIV transmission method, intravenous drug use is a close second. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), injection drug use is the cause of over 36 percent of AIDS cases in the US. In addition to this risk, IV drug use can also put the user at risk for the development of hepatitis C, another incurable blood-borne autoimmune disease.
  • Infections. Staph infection is one of the deadliest skin infections and often associated with IV drug use. If your skin is dirty when you inject, the bacteria on your skin can transfer to your veins and develop into a bacterial infection. Subcutaneous injections can also cause bacterial infections to develop right under the skin.
  • Abscesses. Another common health problem associated with IV drug users is skin abscesses. A skin abscess is a grouping of pus that develops because of a bacterial infection such as staph. These pustules are dark red and circular with red and swollen tenderness at the site.
  • Collapsed veins. Whether you’re an IV drug user or a diabetic, the result is the same. If you continue to inject in the same site, your veins may eventually reject this and collapse. Though most intravenous drug users switch spots often to avoid this, it can still create lasting health problems.
  • Increased chance of overdose. Since the high from the IV method of drug use is so immediate and bypasses all of your body’s detoxifying systems, the chances of overdose are much higher. According to a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the users at highest risk for death by overdose are those who went through rehabilitation but left before finishing the program.

*Signs of Intravenous Drug Use

Worried a loved one is using drugs? Here are some common signs of IV drug use:

  • Sudden neglect of responsibilities
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Track marks on arms
  • Wearing of long sleeves in warm weather (to hide marks)
  • Swollen or puffy hands and feet
  • Extreme hyperactivity or lethargy
  • Bloodstained water or tissues
  • Knotted pantyhose or shoestring (used as a tourniquet)
  • Sudden withdrawal from usual activities
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Borrowing or begging for money

Since some of these signs and symptoms may be related to a mental or physical illness, it is important not to accuse or act irrationally when confronting someone. Always be gentle in your approach.

Mitigating the Risk of Using Needles

Since IV drug use is so risky and addiction has such a stronghold on users, it’s important for addicts to understand their responsibilities when it comes to staying safe. Stopping all IV drug use is the ideal option; however, those who simply won’t stop use should aim to always use clean needles and never share mixing water with anyone. When it comes to getting clean needles, search for a needle exchange program in your area.

Seeking Treatment

Intravenous drug use can be a difficult habit to beat. Just remember, it didn’t start out as a habit. Maybe it was something you tried once with your friends or something you used to get through a tough semester of college. Whatever the reason for your drug use, there is plenty of help available to you.

If your business and social life is suffering, or if you’re struggling both financially and spiritually, it may be time to reach out to someone who understands. If you have any questions about IV drug use or how you can get treatment today, contact us. We can connect you with a treatment program that will work well for your current situation. Don’t waste another day; give us a call now.

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