Intravenous Drug Abuse
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Intravenous Drug Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles, CA

Intravenous drugs are incredibly dangerous, and usually, their use is a sign of a severe addiction problem. Intravenous drugs increase the potency of a drug’s effects and increase the risks associated with use. If you or a loved one are using intravenous drugs, it is vital to seek help from trained professionals as soon as possible.

What is an Intravenous Drug?

An intravenous drug, or an IV drug, is a substance used by injecting straight into the bloodstream via a hypodermic needle. Drugs may also be injected into a muscle or just underneath the skin. However, the phrase intravenous refers to a substance injected into the bloodstream. Most, although not all, drugs can be used as an IV drug. Drugs that come in liquid form can be injected directly, and all other drugs that come in powder or tablet form can be dissolved in water and then injected.

Drugs are injected to decrease the time it takes for the effects to occur and increase the strength of the drug. IV drugs are rarely something that a person begins with. Instead, IV drug abuse often starts as a person’s tolerance to a substance increases. 

As someone continues to use drugs, their body will begin to build up a tolerance to it. Higher tolerance requires a person to ingest more of a drug to feel the desired effects. If taking a drug in another method is not giving the effects they seek, a person may choose to inject the drug to increase the strength of the substance.

Signs and Symptoms of Intravenous Drug Use

If you believe someone around you is abusing IV drugs, there may be specific signs to look out for. Some signs of intravenous drug use include:

  • Self-isolation or less time spent with friends or family
  • Loss of interest in social activities and hobbies
  • A large amount of time spent using or recovering from the effects of drugs
  • Failing to meet obligations at work or school
  • Becoming defensive when questioned about drug use
  • Red marks or welts on the arms or other parts of the body
  • Hiding marks from drug use, often wearing long sleeves even in warm weather

The symptoms of drug use are dependent on the specific substance. Physical and psychological symptoms may vary. IV drugs are often depressants, which can cause a person to seem disoriented or sedated. Although stimulants are less often injected, they can still at times. Stimulant drugs have similar effects when injected as they do when taken in other methods, including feelings of euphoria and an extreme boost in energy.

Are Opioids Intravenous Drugs?

While not all opioids are commonly considered to be intravenous drugs, many are. Specifically, heroin and fentanyl, two of the most dangerous and addictive opioids, are usually used by injecting into the bloodstream. 

Because the effects of opioids are so potent, using them through injection can be incredibly harmful. The strength of the opioids makes it easy to overdose, as only a slightly higher dose than usual may be enough to have devastating effects.

Dangers of Intravenous Drug Use

Intravenous drug use can be hazardous for various reasons. As with all substance abuse, drugs can have immense adverse effects on a person’s body. However, IV drug use introduces its own dangers as well due to the method of how the drugs enter the body. Some potential dangers of IV drug use include:

  • Organ failure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Risky or dangerous behavior
  • Poor coordination
  • Coma
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Higher probability of developing a serious addiction
  • Overdose
  • Death
  • Bloodborne diseases, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV
  • Skin diseases caused by the use of dirty needles

Can You Overdose on Intravenous Drugs?

IV drug use significantly increases a person’s risk of an overdose. Dissolving pills or tablets in water before injection can be especially dangerous. Many prescription medications are designed to slowly dissolve within the body so that the effects are gradually spread over time. However, dissolving these eliminates this feature so that the effects are immediate and at full strength when they are injected.

The effects of IV drugs usually occur within seconds. Therefore, when someone takes too large of a dose of drugs, the body will immediately experience a toxic overload, leading to an overdose. If you suspect that someone has overdosed on drugs, it is essential to seek medical help immediately. Overdoses can have dangerous long-term mental or physical effects and potentially be lethal.

Intravenous Drug Treatment Program

Since IV drug use increases the likelihood of addiction, recovery can often be challenging. Many people who suffer from substance abuse disorder as a result of IV drug use will require a detox program at the beginning of treatment. Detox can be a painful process but one that is necessary to overcome the symptoms that can occur from a substance dependence. It is important that medical professionals oversee the detox process to avoid possible dangers and support the person going through it. Although many may feel that they can accomplish detox independently, it is never advised to attempt detox without medical assistance.

Substance abuse treatment should always be catered to the needs of the individual. Each person in recovery may respond differently to various types of treatment, so no one treatment program will work for everyone.

Psychotherapy options, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can be beneficial in the treatment of substance abuse. Group meetings, such as SMART Recovery or Narcotics Anonymous, may be helpful tools for people who find group support helpful.

If you or a loved one may be suffering from substance abuse disorder, the first step is to seek a medical professional’s help. Getting help with addiction treatment is a vital step in the recovery process. Symptoms associated with withdrawal are often challenging and can be dangerous to face alone. Treatment facilities can help guide you through the initial stages of the recovery process safely and effectively.

At AM Health Care, we believe in finding the recovery method that will work best for you. Every person has different needs when it comes to addiction treatment, and not one thing will work for all people. We can find the facility and program that best fits your needs to receive the best chance at recovery possible.

Our facilities that offer Intravenous Drug Treatment:

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Frequently Asked Questions

AM Health Care offers all levels of care for inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance treatment. We have six different facilities that each specialize in a different aspect of addiction and mental health recovery, ensuring that wherever we offer AM Health Care treatment, you or a loved one will be placed in the hands of an experienced professional.
While we will do our best to accommodate any requests toward any of our six different facilities, we cannot guarantee placement at any one location. This is because each AM Health Care facility offers different levels of care for either substance treatment or mental health treatment. When you contact the AM Health Care team, we will do our best to accommodate your needs and place you in a facility that will help you the mo
AM Health Care accepts most major insurance providers' PPO policies. The best way to know if your insurance will cover your treatment at AM Health Care is to get in touch with our team. If you'd like to have us reach out to you about your insurance, use our verify insurance form.
Siri Sat Khalsa, MD, Medical Director
Clinically Reviewed By
Siri Sat Khalsa, MD
Dr. Siri Sat Khalsa is a board certified Addictionologist with over a decade of experience as a specialist in detoxing and treating patients with alcohol and substance use disorders. As a graduate of USC medical school and Harbor UCLA residency, she spent 10 years a Family Practitioner before discovering her passion for caring for patients struggling with addictions. Her approach is to safely detox patients as comfortably as possible and to then focus on caring for the anxiety and depression and other mental health issues that typically accompany substance use disorders while simultaneously crafting plans to sustain long term sobriety.

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