Risks of Shooting Drugs: IV Drug User Infections

Drug abuse isn’t only a dangerous practice due to the effects these substances cause on the human body, or because drugs are highly addictive and can lead to serious health problems in the long run. Besides these factors, drugs are also dangerous because the way a person takes them might cause different kinds of infections.

More specifically, IV injection is likely to result in the addict getting an infection in addition to the danger of doing drugs.

In order to inform people of the risks IV drug use implies, we’ve prepared this article, which includes information on why this method can cause infections, as well as which infections are the most common.

Why Does Intravenous Drug Use Produce Infections?

There are different reasons as to why injecting drugs might lead to an IV drug abuser contracting an infection. 

For starters, IV infections can arise because the bacteria that reside on the surface of a person’s skin, or on a needle, get pushed inside the body and are then able to get through the skin’s natural defenses. Afterward, if the bacteria reach your blood vessels, you might develop a blood infection from IV drug use.

Moreover, people who inject drugs subcutaneously have a higher risk of contracting abscesses, infected blisters, or other kinds of infections. Keep in mind that if there’s a severe lack of hygiene, the risk becomes even higher, and the infections might become even more dangerous if a person’s immune system isn’t at its best. 

More information on the relationship between drug abuse and viral infections can be found on the NIH website. 

What Common Drugs Are Related to IV Use? 

Opioids are common drugs that are injected through IV, especially heroin. However, there are also other opioids such as Fentanyl and Talwin, or several prescription painkillers, like Oxycodone, that are often the cause of an IV drug use infection. 

Here is a complete list of the main drugs that are commonly associated with IV use:

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Talwin
  • Buprenorphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone

Moreover, sedating drugs are sometimes taken by dissolving them in water and injecting them through a needle. These drugs include, but are not limited to:

  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Xanax

Ultimately, stimulants are also a popular choice among IV drug abusers, more specifically, substances like:

  • Cocaine,
  • Meth
  • Ritalin

What Infections Are Related to IV Drug Use?

IV drug users complications might include several different kinds of infections, and, needless to say, not all of them are the same. Here is a list that analyzes some of the most common infections that come from injecting drug:

  • Staph infections: Staphylococcus infections can look like a pimple or a spider bite, and the skin might be reddened and sore to the touch. Be aware that if the staph spreads and reaches the lungs, a person might show symptoms related to pneumonia. This infection is commonly treated through a round of antibiotics. 
  • Abscesses: Be it a heroin abscess or another kind of abscess; this infection is fairly easy to recognize. Getting an abscess from IV drug use is common; however, the infection should be treated before it has the chance to develop. Some abscesses drain on their own, but it’s better to treat the large ones with antibiotics. More information on
    how to treat abscess from iv drug use is provided by whyy.org.
  • Hepatitis C: This is a viral infection that can either be contracted through IV drug use or through sexual intercourse. Hepatitis C is hard to diagnose since most people don’t show any symptoms; however, fatigue, sore muscles, and itchy skin might be some telltale signs of this infection. Hepatitis C is commonly treated with combination therapy.
  • HIV: Getting infected with HIV can potentially lead to developing a chronic autoimmune disease. The first symptoms of HIV are similar to those of regular flu, such as fever, nausea, and a sore throat, but as the infection develops, people might start noticing oral thrush, extreme malaise, and short-term memory loss. Be aware that some people might not show any symptoms for as long as ten years; therefore it’s crucial for an IV drug abuser to get tested regularly. Although a cure for HIV is yet to be found, many people who contracted it are still able to live a normal and active life thanks to proper treatments that provide several antiretroviral drugs.