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The Dangers of Injecting Drugs

Many drug addictions start with less direct methods of administration, such as ingesting or smoking the substance. As dependency increases, addicts need a stronger and faster high. Thus, many people resort to injecting drugs. Injecting creates the most immediate and most potent effects, but also comes with many risks. Few will consider the dangers of injecting drugs and the health repercussions that follow. At The Ranch PA Detox Center in Hanover, PA residents can get the help they need with recovering from intravenous drug use.

Commonly Injected Drugs

Except for marijuana, users can inject almost every drug. However, heroin is the most common. Additionally, many different kinds of prescription medications use a time-release formula, so intravenous injection bypasses the built-in safety feature. Users crush drugs in tablet form into a powder and dissolve it in liquid to inject. One of the dangers of injecting drugs is sending them directly to the bloodstream. The resulting high is felt almost immediately. The average time for an IV drug to take effect is only between 15 and 30 seconds. It’s much easier for someone to overdose by taking in more drugs than the body can handle. Many drugs could also be cut with additives, which will create dangerous interactions in the body when injected.

Increased Overdose Risk through Injection

Overdose symptoms can vary depending on the amount of drug that is taken and its type but can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Tremors or Convulsions
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Paranoia

In the most severe cases, an overdose can cause you to lose consciousness or have more serious complications. Stimulants can cause heart palpitations and heart attacks, and depressants can slow or even stop breathing. In these cases, a drug overdose can be fatal.

Physical Dangers of Injecting Drugs

Injecting drugs can damage your veins and skin, causing abscesses and infections. These conditions are extremely common in those who use intravenous drugs. The contaminants in the substances, combined with non-sterile equipment and poor hygiene, increase the risk of a skin infection. Sterilizing needles and cleaning the skin can help reduce the possibility of infection. Still, these practices aren’t able to prevent the contaminants in the drugs from getting into a person’s system.

Needle Tracks and Scarring

About three-quarters of those who use intravenous drugs can develop scars, and those scars remain even after sobriety. This stigmatizes abusers for the rest of their lives.

Vein Damage

Damage to the veins is one of the inevitable dangers of injecting drugs due to the repetitive nature of intravenous drug use, infection, and poor technique. As the veins become exhausted, users need more drug sites. Injecting into the femoral veins is common and can cause several health problems, including arterial bleeding. Injecting into the neck is also dangerous because of the presence of major vessels, the trachea, and nerves. Mastitis can be common if using breast veins. Cocaine can be particularly risky because it often causes vein damage.


Endocarditis is a condition defined by inflammation of the interior lining of the heart. It occurs from repeated intravenous drug use. Many drug users will inject substances into veins that drain to the right side of the heart. Due to this, the heart valves on the right side can develop this condition. The bacteria from unclean needles can also lead to this infection. If left untreated, endocarditis can destroy the heart valve and lead to life-threatening complications.


Sharing needles and not correctly cleaning them can lead to the direct transmission of some blood-related conditions, including HIV and hepatitis. HIV transmission is rare, but it can still be a significant risk and one of the dangers of IV drug use.

Other Issues

Intravenous drug users have a high risk of death from smoking-related disease and alcohol-related problems. Chronic venous insufficiency is when blood flow to the heart from the legs is obstructed. Thrombosis is a clot formation in the veins that causes blockage and damage.

Find Drug Addiction Treatment Today

The cycle of addiction can seem hopeless. However, help is available. At The Ranch PA in Hanover, PA, we offer comprehensive addiction treatment to help you create long term recovery. During a medical drug detox program, we ensure your comfort and safety as your body beings to cleanse itself of drugs. Around-the-clock medical care can deal with any conditions resulting from the dangers of injecting drugs. Our residential drug addiction treatment programs provide a high level of support during early recovery. Addiction therapy sessions help you identify the root causes of addiction so that you can work on the tools you will need for lasting recovery. Addiction treatment professionals will work with you on relapse prevention planning and the next steps after rehab. We can connect you with outpatient addiction treatment or other resources that will help you create a new life. There is help available for you or your loved one by going to a drug rehab center. You don’t have to let addiction control you. Contact us at 717.969.9126, and we can help you on the road to recovery.

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