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Addiction and Needles: Intravenous Drug Use

Addiction and Needles: Intravenous Drug Use

There are many ways to abuse drugs. While some may take them orally, others may smoke, snort, or inject them. “shooting up” or the practice of injecting drugs directly into the bloodstream utilizing a needle is incredibly dangerous. Not only does this method instantly produce significantly more intense effects as the drug reaches the bloodstream immediately, but it can also speed up the development of addiction and expose the user to significant health risks not necessarily related to the drug itself. Due to the significantly increased rate of addiction, and potential overdose resulting from intravenous drugs, treatment at an addiction treatment center is often necessary to help the user safely detox and begin recovery.

If you need FREE help please contact the National Helpline about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, treatment, and recovery in English and Spanish.

Addiction and Needles: Intravenous Drug Use

What Is Intravenous Drug Use?

Intravenous drug use involves injecting a substance into a vein with the use of a hypodermic syringe. This administration method produces a rapid and heightened effect because, unlike swallowing, snorting, or smoking, this process bypasses bodily processes that slow the absorption of the drug. For example, if someone swallows a pill, the drug must first be absorbed into the intestines, carried to the liver, and metabolically processed before reaching the bloodstream. Injection, on the other hand, allows the drug to reach the bloodstream immediately, which increases the speed of delivery to the brain. In many cases, the effects of the drug can often be built within one minute of injection. 

Intravenous Drug Use

Can Intravenous Drugs Be Used Illegally?

When people think of intravenous drug use, they think of the drugs that are commonly abused and injected, such as Heroin, Methamphetamine, PCP, Ketamine, and anabolic steroids. While these are the first to come to mind, they are not the only substances that can be taken intravenously and abused illegally. There are several prescription medications that are used illegally as well. All of these substances require a prescription and are, at least initially, obtained legally. Drugs such as Codeine, Fentanyl, Vicodin, Demerol, Methadone, Morphine, and Oxycodone are frequently obtained illegally through street sales, theft, or getting from a friend or family member who has an active prescription. They are then processed (if necessary) into liquid form and taken as intravenous drugs.  

What to Do If You or Someone You Know Is Using Illegal Intravenous Drugs

If you or someone you know is using illegal intravenous drugs, there are ways to help or get help. 

Syringe exchange programs can help prevent the spread of infections related to needle swapping and sharing. Also, these programs will often offer preventative services such as counseling, infectious disease testing (HIV, Hepatitis C, STDs, etc.), Hepatitis A and B vaccines, and referrals to drug addiction treatment programs. 

There are also several types of addiction treatment programs that can help intravenous drug users achieve and maintain sobriety. Some examples of addiction recovery programs include outpatient treatment and inpatient treatment programs. There are also group meetings, 12-step programs, and other types of counseling available. For most seeking treatment for intravenous drug addiction, an inpatient program is the safest and most effective option. The early stages of detox from intravenous drugs can be unpleasant and, in some cases, dangerous. For many individuals with an addiction to intravenous drugs, detox should not be attempted without the type of medical supervision found in inpatient treatment programs. Many who try to detox alone will often relapse when withdrawal symptoms become too difficult to manage independently. Successful detox is the first step to successful treatment and recovery.

Addiction and Needles: Intravenous Drug Use

Get Help With Addiction Today at Crosspointe Recovery

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to intravenous drugs, don’t wait to seek treatment. Drug addiction is life-threatening, and early treatment and intervention are crucial to recovery. Contact us at Crosspointe Recovery in Sherman Oaks, California, today. Let us help you take that first step towards living drug-free.  

Published: October 12, 2022

Last Updated: October 26, 2022


Natalia Golenkova