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What is Most Dangerous About Intravenous Drug Use?

There are many factors that make intravenous, or IV, drug use dangerous. The first is the drug itself. No one ties off to take ibuprofen. Most new heroin users don’t even shoot up. They tend to either smoke it or snort it. It’s usually not until they want greater potency or faster action that they will inject it. When someone is injecting a drug, it signals a pretty serious habit. Someone at that stage of drug use is far more likely to overdose than a new or casual user.

Another problem is infections from dirty needles. This could be anything, but the most serious infections are HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. This seems like an easy problem to avoid, but addiction causes reckless behavior. Anyone thinking clearly would pass on sharing a dubious needle, but addicts rarely think clearly. The logic behind needle exchange programs in many cities is that heroin addicts are going to use no matter what. A heroin epidemic is bad enough without adding to it an AIDS epidemic, or making an AIDS epidemic worse.

In addition to the big scary infections, injection sites can become infected, creating abscesses. Users may suffer from blood infections. Cotton fever is when IV drug users get a blood infection from a bacteria that lives in cotton, which is often used to filter heroin. Cotton fever is not often fatal but it does cause a high fever and a lot of pain, including kidney pain, chills, headache, joint pain, tremors, anxiety, and shortness of breath.  

If you are using heroin, you are never completely sure what you are injecting into your body. Heroin is almost always cut with something, and whatever it’s cut with might cause additional problems. Sometimes heroin includes additives like fentanyl, DXM, or caffeine, which are supposed to enhance the effect. They may enhance the effect, but they also increase the risk of overdose.

Sometimes heroin is cut with stuff that would not normally be harmful, like sugar, baking soda, or talcum powder. Although these don’t make the drug more dangerous, they can be dangerous to inject. Even substances you would normally consume, like sugar, can cause problems because they are meant to be processed by your digestive system and not dumped straight into your blood. They may clump together, causing stroke or heart attack. They may cause infections within the cardiovascular system.

If you’re struggling with a serious addiction, it’s only a matter of time until intravenous drug use leads to a serious health issue. Detox is not pleasant, but Gardens Wellness Center can make it as painless as possible, and certainly better than a chronic or fatal medical complication. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at