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Common Signs of IV Drug Use
Intravenous (IV) drug use presents many dangers for the user. To combat an addiction before it overwhelms the user is essential, and learning how to spot signs of IV drug use can help you save someone you love or care about.
While many commonly abused drugs can be abused intravenously, heroin tops the list as the most frequently injected drug. Methamphetamine and cocaine are also widely used intravenously. Many people addicted to drugs inject them because the high is nearly instantaneous and powerful. Unfortunately, injecting drugs right into the bloodstream can quickly overwhelm the brain and body, leading to overdose and, all too frequently, death.
If you do know someone who abuses drugs by injecting them, encourage them to visit JC’s Recovery Center in South Florida to access the comprehensive treatment they need to heal their mind, body, and spirit.
There are numerous signs of IV drug use, but the most common are track marks. Track marks indicate where a user has injected drugs into their veins. These marks most commonly appear as small holes that stretch along the individual’s forearm. Someone new to the practice may have marks with small scabs. The scabbing indicates there’s been time between uses for the skin to heal. A habitual user who is addicted to IV drugs like heroin is unlikely to have these scabs. Their marks often appear red or light pink.
A person who has been addicted to IV drugs for some time may produce marks that stretch up the length of their veins. These marks truly resemble ‘tracks’ and are one of the telltale signs of IV drug use. While IV drug users most commonly inject the drugs into their forearm veins, they may also inject into their neck, hands, feet, or groin. Consequently, if you see that someone’s arms have scabbed or healed, that is not proof that they have not injected someplace else on their bodies.
Other Signs of IV Drug Use
Track marks aren’t the only indicator that someone you care for may be injecting drugs. If you’re concerned your loved one is exhibiting drug use symptoms and wears long sleeves at odd times, you might consider they’re injecting a drug. Do they ever expose their forearms? Is there evidence of drug paraphernalia? Often, a person using drugs will exhibit more than one sign.
Another common symptom of IV drug abuse is weight loss. Often, a person addicted to a drug like heroin or crack cocaine experiences a drastic reduction in appetite. Many people struggling with addiction exhibit substantial weight loss. Irritability is another common symptom among those addicted to an IV drug. If your loved one exhibits mood swings often or displays aggression, they may be battling addiction. Again, look for other symptoms and signs to confirm your suspicion.
IV Drug Abuse Related Problems
A person who injects drugs often develops health problems related to their injection practices. Skin infections are common among IV drug users. By re-using injection sites and dirty needles, they can cause a build-up of bacteria, which can, in turn, produce skin infections that may lead to ulcers and abscesses.
A serious problem among people who abuse IV drugs is blood-borne infectious diseases. Needle sharing can lead to the transmission of Hepatitis C, HIV, and other dangerous, even life-threatening pathogens. Collapsed veins and deep vein thrombosis can also occur as a result of IV drug use.
Help Someone Who Is Abusing IV Drugs
Confronting someone about their drug use isn’t always easy, but it can be life-saving. It’s important to encourage your loved one to seek treatment if they are abusing IV drugs. If they become defensive or deny their drug use, you may need to consult an interventionist for help. It may also be necessary to talk to other family members or friends who may have more influence than you or be able to support you in your efforts to encourage said loved one to get into treatment.
JC’s Recovery Center is a faith-based treatment rehab that relies on evidence-based therapies and Christian principles to help people begin their recovery journey. Addiction is a chronic condition. Someone addicted to powerful IV drugs cannot control their drug use or stop abusing without help. The sooner your loved one enters a treatment program, the faster they can safeguard their mental and physical health.