A person abusing drugs by subcutaneous injection may be at great risk of contracting skin infections like abscesses, HIV, hepatitis C, and other immunodeficiency diseases. A rehab treatment program may be able to help you avoid these risks, quit abusing drugs, and beat addiction.
Understanding Subcutaneous Injection
Over the years, substance abuse methods have changed, and a lot of people have switched to faster routes of administration for drugs like heroin or cocaine. Subcutaneous injection is sometimes referred to as “skin-popping,” which is using a hypodermic needle to inject a substance between the dermis layer of skin and muscle tissues.
This method is commonly used in medicine for insulin, but there are some reasons that a person might subcutaneously inject illicit drugs as well. For instance, some might skin-pop because they can’t find a vein, or because taking a medication orally defeats the purpose if the stomach enzymes will destroy it.
Additionally “some do it because drugs absorb more slowly this way. “Muscling and skin-popping give you less of a ‘rush,’ but the effects of the drug may last longer,” according to Public Health Seattle and King County (PHSKC).
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What Are The Most Commonly Injected Drugs?
In the world of substance abuse and addiction, any substance that’s water-soluble can be injected. The majority of people who inject drugs do so intravenously. However, if they’ve missed a vein or prefer not to shoot up into their veins they may resort to “skin-popping.”
Gloria J Baciewicz, M.D. of Medscape said, “the most commonly injected drug is heroin, but amphetamines, buprenorphine, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, cocaine, and methamphetamine also are injected.” She continues, “treatment of individuals who use injection drugs may be complicated by social and political barriers to treatment and by a lack of resources for public health approaches to treatment.”
Dangers Of Injecting Heroin And Other Opioids
Injecting heroin into the veins is the fastest route of getting the substance into the bloodstream, central nervous system, and brain. With a subcutaneous route, the opioids linger for minutes longer before arriving into the bloodstream. The rush a person experience isn’t as intense, and it will stay in the system for longer. This delay often leaves room for further health complications and infections.
As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “people who inject drugs such as heroin are at high risk of contracting the HIV and hepatitis C virus. These diseases are transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids, which can occur when sharing needles or other injection drug use equipment.”
Dangers Of Injecting Cocaine
The euphoria produced from injecting cocaine occurs much faster than snorting it, and even though it doesn’t last as long, it can easily put a person in harm’s way.
Just like heroin, injecting cocaine can put a person at “higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases. However, even people involved with non-needle cocaine use place themselves at a risk for HIV because cocaine impairs judgment, which can lead to risky sexual behavior with infected partners” (NIDA).
Not only does subcutaneous cocaine abuse have potential to lead to immunodeficiency diseases, it has also been proven to actually speed up the HIV infection. Based on the research by the NIDA, this is because “cocaine impairs immune cell function and promotes reproduction of the HIV virus. People who use cocaine and are infected with HIV also increase their risk for co-infection with hepatitis C, a virus that affects the liver.”
Dangers Of Injecting Anabolic Steroids
Although anabolic steroids don’t cause the same euphoria and rush as cocaine or heroin, they can still be dangerous. Steroids are one of the most frequently injected drugs. Even though the most common route is intramuscular, steroids can be abused through subcutaneous routes as well.
Some of the consequences of abusing anabolic steroids are as follows:
- Short-term effects such as mental problems, and extreme mood swings, including “roid rage”—angry feelings and behavior that may lead to violence.
- Continued steroid abuse can act on some of the same brain pathways and chemicals—including dopamine, serotonin, and opioid systems—that are affected by other drugs.
- Long-term, even permanent, health problems, including effects which are gender- and age-specific.
- Increased risk of contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis.
- Risk of developing addiction
Dangers Of Injecting Barbiturates
Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants similar to benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and alcohol that produce euphoria. They’re commonly used in veterinary practices to sedate or treat epileptic animals, but they can be abused by snorting, injecting, purchasing them illegally, or taking a prescription that isn’t yours.
“Barbiturates are generally abused to reduce anxiety, decrease inhibitions, and treat unwanted effects of illicit substances. Barbiturates can be extremely dangerous because overdoses can occur easily and lead to death” reports the Department of Developmental Services.
Regular abuse of barbiturates is more likely to build up a person’s tolerance, and cause them to need more of the drug to get the same effect. Tolerance puts people at greater risk of overdose, another risk-factor that’s increased by subcutaneous abuse.
Sharing or using dirty or contaminated needles is extremely dangerous and can put a person at a greater risk of HIV, tetanus, and hepatitis C. It can also lead to skin conditions like abscesses, lesions, or Cellulitis—or even necrotizing fasciitis, wound botulism, and gas gangrene.
One of the biggest risks with subcutaneous injection is that it allows “germs to ‘sit’ inside muscle and fat tissue or under the skin. These are great places for abscesses and other infections to brew. Infections in these areas can be very serious. They can also spread to the blood, bones, heart and other places in the body,” states PHSKC.
What Are Abscesses, Lesions, and Cellulitis?
Abscesses can happen anywhere in the body, but most commonly form in the mouth, on the skin, and under the skin. They “occur when an area of tissue becomes infected and the body’s immune system tries to fight it. White blood cells (WBCs) move through the walls of the blood vessels into the area of the infection and collect in the damaged tissue. During this process, pus forms,” the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains.
Lesions are hardened callused tissue. With the long-term subcutaneous injection, scar tissue and lesions form at the site the needle enters. They are defined by the National Cancer Institute as “an area of abnormal tissue. A lesion may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).”
Cellulitis is “an infection of the skin and deep underlying tissues. Group A strep (streptococcal) bacteria are the most common cause. The bacteria enter your body when you get an injury such as a bruise, burn, surgical cut, or wound,” according to the NLM.
Long-Term Health Risks Of Injecting Drugs
There are a wide range of risks associated with injecting drugs, but some of the most vital organs are severely affected. The organs damaged are the dermis, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, central nervous system, and brain.
How To Help If Someone Is Injecting Drugs
A common sign of drug abuse by injection spots on the skin where the needle went in. A person who injects drugs may also spend a lot of time alone, or frequently become irritable.
If somebody you care about is battling a substance use disorder, you may be able to help them by conducting an intervention. Interventions are led by qualified professionals who have experience conducting them.
Addiction Prevention And Treatment
It can be hard to overcome addiction, but it’s possible. Sometimes all it takes is the right treatment to start the process. Behavioral therapy and other treatment programs can help a person overcome addiction and embark on the road to recovery.
Some of the frequently implemented and most successful treatments are detoxification, dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, group therapy, and aftercare support.
Finding The Best Rehab Center
There are a lot of diseases out there, and not all of them have cured, but you can treat addiction and enter recovery. We want to help you recover from addiction.