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Dangers of Shooting Oxycodone, Demerol, and Dilaudid

Dangers of Shooting Oxycodone, Demerol, and Dilaudid

What Happens When You Shoot Painkillers?

Injecting opioid substances can result in extreme harm, such as:

  • Infection of the heart muscle.
  • Lung infection.
  • Rapid development of addiction.
  • Transmission of infectious diseases due to needle-sharing.
  • Overdose.
  • Death.

Learn more about the risks and how to get help.


Pain is one of the most common experiences for humans and a top reason why people seek medical care. Pain is not just sensory or physical, but also emotional, cognitive, and potentially debilitating if left untreated because it is often associated with inflammation and tissue damage.

According to the American Chronic Pain Association, health situations that may warrant prescription pain medication include:

  • Conditions involving acute pain symptoms from a recent injury.
  • Chronic pain conditions lasting anywhere from three to six months.
  • Pain flare-ups that require stronger medications to relieve episodes of severe pain.
  • Ongoing pain symptoms that persist for most of the day.

Painkiller drugs, specifically opioids, are often prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain, bringing pain relief and helping a person to function normally. However, prescription opioids have an abuse and addiction potential that is even more pronounced when not taken as directed. Repeated use of painkillers over time usually leads to tolerance, a condition in which you need progressively larger amounts of the drug to maintain its initial effectiveness.

Abrupt reduction or abstinence of a painkiller drug leads to withdrawal, which can involve significantly unpleasant gastrointestinal problems, sweats and chills, pains and cramps, and a general sense of feeling bad (dysphoria). This experience is thought to be the reason that many people develop drug addiction because the distress caused by withdrawal increases their compulsion to use the painkiller (negative reinforcement).

The gradual development of a drug addiction can be thought of as a three-stage cycle:

  • Binge/intoxication
  • Withdrawal/negative effect
  • Preoccupation/anticipation

These stages worsen over time, becoming more intense, feeding into each other and ultimately leading to addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with the use of painkiller drugs, help is available by calling 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers?. Our rehab support advisors can answer your questions and refer you to a painkiller addiction treatment program that is best for you.

Tampering with painkillers by crushing or heating of extended-release or controlled-release formulations for the purpose of smoking, snorting or “shooting up” (injection) causes rapid release of the medication throughout the body (dose dumping). A drug treatment center study found that 80% of prescription painkiller users tampered with drugs in such a way. While Demerol does not have a controlled release formulation on the market, both oxycodone and hydromorphone (the generic name for Dilaudid) do. The major concern with dose dumping is the risk of overdose and death from respiratory failure.

An intended effect of crushing or heating painkillers is to get maximum euphoric effects through snorting or shooting up. These methods cause the drugs to act immediately when compared to swallowing a tablet or capsule.

An unintended effect of manipulating a painkiller drug is possible overdose and death. An infection such as endocarditis, a heart-muscle infection, is also a risk. Since many painkiller drugs in tablet or capsule form contain talc, there is additional risk of developing a lung infection such as pulmonary granulomas. Shooting up of tampered painkillers that interferes with blood supply to a limb can cause tissue death (tissue necrosis), which can sometimes require amputation of the limb.

Painkiller drugs are often prescribed to treat conditions where temporary or long-term pain symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities. While many drug addictions start out as recreational activities that develop into ongoing use, addiction to painkillers can also happen from following a prescribed medication regimen. To compound the problem of prescription drug abuse, many medications intended for prescription use are “diverted” for trade on an illicit market, which is why some of these powerful painkillers can also be purchased on the street.

According to Harvard Health Publications, between the years 2004 and 2008, the number of emergency-room visits resulting from overuse of painkiller drugs increased by 111%.

Many of these cases involved “shooting up” or intravenous (IV) use, which greatly increases the likelihood of addiction. Like most other drug categories, there are several different painkiller drugs on the market, some legal and some illegal. Among the painkillers available for treatment of pain are the following:

Do you need help controlling your use of any of these painkiller medications? Perhaps you were prescribed one of these medications for a painful condition and you find yourself using it more and more, or injecting it to intensify its effects. Call us today at 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers?. We can help you find an addiction center best suited to treat drug dependence and pain.

Painkillers and IV Use

Drugs designed to relieve pain symptoms come from both legal and illegal sources. A significant different between prescription and street drugs has to do with knowing what’s actually in a particular dose. Street-based IV drugs are more oftentimes than not mixed with unknown additive agents that can vary in their effects on the body. Prescription drugs usually contain a pure concentration of each drug type combined with other known active ingredients.

In either case, once injected into the bloodstream, all opioid drugs interact with opioid receptors throughout the nervous system. Ultimately, the activation of these receptors is responsible for the “feel good” rush elicited throughout the body. This interaction with the brain’s opioid receptors is able to occur, because painkiller drugs chemical resemble the body’s natural endorphins. In essence, synthetic opioid painkillers are designed to mimic our naturally occurring “feel good” chemicals.

Effects of Shooting Painkillers

Shooting painkillers produces a more rapid response than taking it orally as a pill or in liquid form because absorption of the drug occurs much faster. Onset of the drug’s action can be as quick as 15-30 seconds compared to taking the drug by mouth (20-30 minutes). This rate is nearly 10 times faster than snorting or popping a pill.

luxury-shutter355085843-drugs-and-syringe-on-tableThe “bioavailability” of an intravenously administered drug is also much greater than those taken orally or through other non-IV routes. Shooting up provides more of the drug directly to the brain than an oral dose does because the stomach, intestine, and liver may degrade or filter out some of the drug before it reaches the brain.

Shooting an extended- or controlled-release painkiller drug also gives a more intense high than taking the drug orally because the full amount of drug intended for a gradual and timed release will be available at once.

Effects of IV drug use may cause the following:

  • Rapid overdose (rapid rate of absorption leaves little time to respond to unexpected reaction or overdose)
  • Hepatitis and HIV-AIDS (from non-sterile injection techniques)
  • Heart infection (endocarditis)
  • Lung infection (such as pulmonary granulomas caused by a poorly filtered drug)
  • Blood clots (from poor dissolving methods of solution or secondary to general vascular inflammation)
  • Danger of accidental injection into an artery (for example, the femoral vein and femoral artery are very close to each other)
  • Skin infection at the drug-injection site or collapse of a vein
  • Death (necrosis) of arm or leg tissue requiring amputation (injected drug interferes with blood circulation to a limb)

While the high may be quicker and more pleasurable, repeated injections in the same spots can lead to health complications as skin inflammation or infection and damage to the veins. Shooting street-based painkillers also introduces unknown additive materials into the body. Over time, these additives can cause considerable damage to the body’s cardiovascular system as well as to the cerebrovascular system (blood vessels inside the brain). Repeated needle use can also leave a person open to contracting viral diseases like hepatitis and HIV-AIDS, particularly when needles are shared in a group.

Dangers of Shooting Oxycodone

What it is: Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin) is a semisynthetic opioid similar to morphine, which is one of the opiate alkaloids found in the opium poppy.
Why it is prescribed: It is prescribed for the treatment of acute pain (pain of duration less than six months that gradually resolves). Percocet is a short-acting formulation that combines oxycodone with acetaminophen. OxyContin is an extended-release formulation, intended for long-lasting pain such as the pain that often accompanies cancer. OxyContin is one of the most commonly used brands of oxycodone and carries a high potential for abuse because of how potent the drug can be. It is often prescribed to treat pain symptoms associated with cancer and arthritis-type conditions. Since oxycodone is a prescription-based drug, it’s often viewed as a “white collar” addiction as people from all walks of life have been affected by its addictive potential. The effects of OxyContin can last up to 12 hours.
How it is used: Usual oral doses of Percocet start at 2.5 to 5 milligrams every 4 to 6 hours. Usual starting dose of OxyContin is 10 milligrams every 12 hours, increasing dosage as needed. OxyContin tablets range in dosage from 10 to 80 milligrams.
Common effects: Reduction in the intensity of pain (analgesia) and a pleasant state with feelings of well-being, lack of concern, and overall contentment (euphoria).
How it affects the brain: Oxycodone works by altering how the central nervous system communicates pain signals in the brain. In effect, the drug changes the pain messages the brain receives from the body, which reduces a person’s sense of pain and also affects their emotional response to pain. Oxycodone can cause side effects, such as slowed reflexes, headaches, and dizziness, when taken as prescribed. When abused, severe health complications can result. It also affects the dopamine-releasing reward center of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens, which plays an important part in developing substance abuse and dependence.
What happens when you shoot it: By crushing, dissolving, and injecting oxycodone, you destroy the time-release mechanism of the drug and receive the complete potent dose all at once. Shooting oxycodone intensifies its effects to the point where major systems in the body can completely shut down. Low blood pressure, heart failure, and even death are just some of the health complications that can result from IV injections of oxycodone.
Risk of overdose and addiction: Oxycodone has been strongly associated with widespread abuse, dependence, and an undetermined number of overdose deaths. When administered through an IV, the drug is crushed up and diluted with water. Shooting oxycodone can be done through the veins, muscles or injected underneath the skin. In the case of OxyContin, shooting up counteracts the drug’s time-release mechanism. This means a person feels the full effects of the drug all at once instead of over a 12-hour period. While definitely more intense, this method greatly increases the likelihood of overdose.

Dangers of Shooting Demerol

What it is: Meperidine (Demerol) is an opioid similar to morphine in its analgesic effects.
Why it is prescribed: It is prescribed for moderate to severe pain. It is also used in obstetric and anesthetic procedures. It is preferred for this procedure over morphine-like opioids because it is more quick-acting and does not affect the breathing of the fetus in obstetric procedures, such as during childbirth.
How it is used: As a prescription, Demerol comes in tablet and an injectable solution. Its generic form, meperidine, is also available in a syrup form for oral dosing. In tablet form, a usual Demerol dosage for adults starts between 50 milligrams and 150 milligrams every 3-4 hours as necessary.
Common effects: Demerol is one-tenth as potent as morphine, but faster-acting, producing pain relief and feelings of contentment and euphoria similar to other opioids. As a fast-acting pain-reliever, Demerol’s potential for addiction may be even more pronounced than some of the other painkiller types, especially when shooting up. The high effects from Demerol can cause an initial rush along with feelings of extreme happiness. Since IV use delivers the drug directly to the brain’s opiate receptors, Demerol’s fast-acting effects can be more intense than a slower acting analgesic. This also means the brain and the body can build up a tolerance at quicker rates than with oxycodone or slower acting painkiller drugs.
How it affects the brain: Like other opioids, Demerol affects the brain by attaching to the mu-opioid receptors, sending signals to the site of the pain, lessening pain severity. It has less effect on parts of the brain involved in breathing (respiration), and is absorbed more quickly than other opioids.
What happens when you shoot it: In addition to a rapidly-induced high, Demerol used in large doses can cause seizure.
Risk of overdose and addiction: Like other opioids, there is risk of overdose with Demerol use, especially in people with kidney problems. Withdrawal symptoms with Demerol develop much faster than with morphine because of Demerol’s shorter duration of action. This increases the risk of overdose and addiction as the user tries to avoid the side effects of withdrawal. As with any painkiller medication, a person can become addicted after using the drug for long periods. The risk of addiction is may increase when the drug is used for recreational purposes.

Dangers of Shooting Dilaudid

What it is: Hydromorphone (Dilaudid) is similar to other opioids, but is 6-10 times more potent than morphine. It is also marketed as Exalgo, an extended-release form of the drug.
Why it is prescribed: Like other opioids, Dilaudid is prescribed for moderate to severe pain as well as chronic pain.
How it is used: Dilaudid is available in liquid or tablet form, and as an injectable solution.
Common effects: Dilaudid also produces analgesia and euphoria, but with relatively less sedation than some other opioids, and less chance of producing a loss of consciousness. It is shorter-acting than other opioid drugs in its class. Even after short-term use, the body quickly develops a tolerance to the effects of Dilaudid, which can prompt the use of increasing amounts and hasten the onset of addiction.
How it affects the brain: Like other opioids, Dilaudid achieves its effects by interacting with mu-opioid receptors. It has more effect on the area of the brain associated with cough suppression (medulla) than other drugs in its class. While it may be less sedating than other opioids, Dilaudid depresses breathing by its effects on brain-stem respiratory centers.
What happens when you shoot it: Dilaudid can have profound respiratory depressing effects – slowing breathing to dangerously low levels. Being stronger than morphine, it delivers a potent punch and can easily cause overdose and death, especially when injected.
Risk of overdose and addiction: As with other opioids, Dilaudid has a high potential for addiction because of its elevated level of euphoria and its shorter period of action. However, it has a low level of sedation, which means consciousness is not lost as quickly as it might be with other opioids. This may cause the user to increase doses to dangerous levels very rapidly. Dilaudid is very effective at doses as low as 1-2 milligrams, which poses an increased risk for addiction in users who have developed a tolerance to other opioids. IV use may speed up the rate at which a person becomes addicted, and the accompanying, intense “high” that comes from shooting up makes it all the more difficult to stop using.

Opioid Tolerance, Withdrawal, and Overdose

As opioid tolerance levels increase, the likelihood of withdrawal effects also increases since it takes more and more of the drug to feel the desired effects. Some of the withdrawal effects that come from abusing drugs like oxycodone, Demerol and Dilaudid include:

  • Tremors.
  • Anxiety.
  • Bone or muscle pain.
  • Flu-type symptoms (fever, runny nose, etc.)
  • Insomnia.
  • Gastrointestinal distress.

Opioid tolerance levels can increase rapidly when they are abused intravenously. As tolerance mounts, the associated withdrawal effects may also become more severe. This is part of the reason why it’s so hard to stop using prescription painkiller drugs. People with high tolerance levels also tend to inject higher doses of the drug over time as the body’s cravings become overwhelming. This practice greatly increases the likelihood that a person will overdose on the drug.

A person who has overdosed on painkillers can experience a wide range of symptoms depending on their overall health condition and the length of time they’ve been using. Some of the symptoms experienced may include:

  • Cold, clammy feel to the skin.
  • Weak muscles.
  • Slow heartbeat.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Coma.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Many addicted people find the help they need from professional detox centers and ongoing substance abuse treatment. If you need help breaking your addiction to painkillers, call 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers?. Our representatives can provide you with information on detox centers in your area.

Painkiller Drug Abuse Statistics

The abuse of painkillers appears to be a growing problem in the United States that affects people of all ages and walks of life. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2008 show the impact that painkiller abuse has had on the country as a whole:

  • Over 12 million adults and teenagers reported using prescription painkillers for recreational purposes.
  • Deaths related to overdosing increased by threefold over a 20-year period with as many as 14,800 deaths within 2008 alone.
  • Between the years 2003 and 2008, emergency room visits more than doubled from 250,000 a year to 500,000 a year.
  • The abuse of painkiller drugs carries an annual cost of $72.5 billion per year within the health care system.

Getting Help for Shooting Painkillers

luxury-shutter174173609-woman-in-pain-at-doctorsTreatment for painkiller addiction begins with screening and treatment of medical complications from IV drug use. A referral to inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment will follow, usually for a period of 30-90 days, helping a person to deal with health issues associated with drug use, addictive cravings, and any co-occurring mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders that commonly accompany addiction. Highly skilled medical and addiction professionals will take care of you or your loved one in the treatment of these conditions, with referrals for other appropriate treatment if needed.

Treatment of medical complications: Many of the medical complications associated with painkiller addiction are due to the use of needles. Among these medical conditions and complications are:

  • Hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis C.
  • HIV infection.
  • Botulism
  • Tetanus.
  • Heart infection (endocarditis).
  • Blood clots in the veins (thrombosis).
  • Kidney (renal) problems.

Detoxification: The goals of medically supervised detox are to:

  • Eliminate the drug from the body.
  • Rid the body of the acute physiological dependence on painkillers.
  • Treat and diminish the pain and discomfort of withdrawal.
  • Identify and begin to treat the medical problems.
  • Begin to educate the person about issues related to his or her health.

Medications: Treatment of withdrawal symptoms may include some of the following medication options:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine (Subutex)
  • Suboxone (buprenorphine & naloxone)
  • Clonidine
  • Mood-stabilizing drugs

Traditional Addiction Treatment

For people who need ongoing treatment for medical complications, inpatient addiction treatment may be the best option to ensure you get the medical attention you need. Inpatient treatment can help even if you are not sure if you want to recover (ambivalence). If there is risk of harming yourself, you will need the kind of help and close attention which can best be given in a residential setting. If a lack of support at home or an unstable living situation is an issue, residential treatment programs provide a safe place to recover.

Traditional inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment services emphasize individual and group therapy to address underlying issues of addiction and to instill hope and a sense that you are not alone. Group therapy will also enable you to see that you have the inner strength to fight the addiction, and will challenge those areas of life where you may need to accept responsibility for the past. This is facilitated through the sharing of your drug-use history.

Behavioral interventions will help motivate and train you to build on successes achieved in early recovery while teaching you the skills you need to remain drug-free. Nutrition and exercise will be emphasized in most traditional addiction treatment programs. The participation of family and significant others will be utilized if possible to help heal everyone affected by your addiction.

Attendance at 12-step meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) helps with the spiritual, non-religious dimensions of addiction, addressing questions of meaning and purpose in life while building a network of healthy relationships.

Outpatient addiction treatment is an option for people who do not have medical complications requiring residential care or hospitalization. For those who have a good support system at home or in the community, outpatient treatment provides the opportunity to continue living at home and working or finding work while attending a day or evening treatment program.

Luxury and Executive Rehab

These settings provide treatment along with optional and alternative treatments for addiction in luxurious surroundings meant to give you the best of what life has to offer by way of comfort, space, food, and recreational activities.

Alternative therapies may include yoga, massage, art and music therapy, psychodrama, aromatherapy, and horse (equine) therapy. Although many of these alternative treatments are not evidence-based and may treat symptoms associated with addiction, they do not replace traditional addiction treatment.

Executive rehab is oriented towards the executive professional person who needs to continue working to some degree during his or her addiction treatment. It emphasizes privacy and facilitates access to the professional world while being in treatment. Additionally, the therapeutic interaction is often one on one rather than group-oriented.

Stop Shooting and Get Healthy

If you’d like to stop shooting drugs of any kind, contact us today at 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers?. We can connect you with the best exclusive treatment center for your individual needs to help you achieve long-term sobriety.


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