Shooting up, or injecting, substances is one of the most dangerous ways to consume drugs. There are a lot of different drugs, even alcohol, that can be injected directly into the bloodstream. The adverse effects it has on the body vary from infections, abscesses, overdoses, and more. With all the different chemicals that are put into drugs, shooting up has never been more dangerous. Doing illegal drugs has never been more dangerous than it is today.
How This is Affecting Us
Illicit drug use has been on the rise. Heroin, non-prescribed pain medications and meth have continuously been on the rise. Drug use in the United States is and has been a problem for a long time. America has gone through the crack epidemic in the 80s, the opiate epidemic in the 2000s (and still going), and now we are seeing a major rise in meth usage. All of these drugs are becoming more and more dangerous. The recent rise in fentanyl being added to any drug has spiked the number in overdoses exponentially.
Many of these drugs can be injected. It is a process to change the drug into a liquid form so it can be injected. Drugs like heroin, cocaine, crack, prescription medications, and meth can be consumed this way. There are various ways and dangers of doing drugs like this. Crack, meth, heroin, and cocaine need to be “cooked down” to make it into a liquid that can be injected. Dealers will add things like baby powder or Talcum powder, baby laxatives, even aspirin to make more money. Some additives, or cutting agents, can be “cooked” out, but some of it will remain. Cutting agents can be catastrophic to the people who unknowingly consume them. It is not ever really clear how these chemicals will work inside of the body, and sometimes, they can clump together inside the needle or even inside the vein.
Just as pure drugs can be dangerous, cut drugs can be harmful, as well. An abscess happens when bacteria enters a person’s body, usually by injecting drugs. An untreated abscess may lead to amputation, infection of the bone or heart, sepsis, or death. Research has found that up to one-third of people who inject drugs currently have or recently had an abscess or infection. Abscesses, in most cases, form at the site of injection, the bacteria can affect anywhere on the body. If you have an abscess, go to the hospital. Do not try to pop it or cut it open yourself. The pus from these abscesses can adversely affect your organs. These are wounds that need to be treated and cleaned thoroughly.
Fentanyl and Carfentanil
With illicit drugs, you never really know what other chemicals have been added. Two of the more popular additives right now are fentanyl and carfentanil. According to the CDC, pharmaceutical-grade fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. Carfentanyl was originally made for tranquilizer darts to subdue large mammals, like elephants and rhinos. They are, also, illegally made.
The most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. Because of how addictive these drugs are, they are often mixed with all different sorts of drugs. These drugs that were made for late-stage cancer patients and tranquilizing large animals are being added to drugs on our streets. With how potent these drugs have become, the death toll has only risen. An addict that has adapted to a certain amount of heroin can and will overdose if they use that same amount of heroin that is cut with fentanyl or carfentanil. They are that powerful and deadly.
Naloxone is a newer medication designed to quickly reverse an opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist. That means it binds to the opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of other opioids. It can work very quickly to save someone’s life. There are two main ways that naloxone can be administered.
- Autoinjectable- Evzio is a prefilled auto-injection device that makes it easy for families or emergency personnel to inject naloxone quickly into the outer thigh. Once activated, the device provides verbal instruction to the user describing how to deliver the medication, similar to automated defibrillators.
- Prepackaged Nasal Spray- Narcan Nasal Spray is a prefilled, needle-free device that requires no assembly and is sprayed into one nostril while patients lay on their back.
Both Narcan and Evzio are packaged in a carton containing two doses to allow for repeat dosing if needed. They are relatively easy to use and suitable for home use in emergency situations.
Narcan only lasts between 30 and 90 minutes, while the effects of the opioid last much longer. It is possible that after the naloxone wears off the user can have another overdose. It is extremely important for someone, the administer, to stay with the user and wait out the risk period in case another dose of Naloxone is needed. Some states have even created laws protecting the person there administering the Naloxone. The Good Samaritan Law or Medical Amnesty Law provides protection from minor drug charges or minor drug paraphernalia charges. Naloxone can cause the user to experience immediate withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes people want to use again immediately to stop the withdrawal feelings. This could result in another overdose or death. Try to support the person during this time period and encourage him or her not to use it for a couple of hours. These are life and death situations. Call for medical attention.
Getting Help for Substance Abuse
An addiction to opioids or other potent sedatives is a dangerous condition that can induce a myriad of severe health consequences, including irreversible brain damage and death. We urge those who are suffering to ask for help before it’s too late.
Just Believe Recovery centers offer comprehensive programs and a full spectrum of care, including detox, partial hospitalization treatment, residential treatment, aftercare planning, and more.
If you are ready to take the first step on your journey to recovery, contact us today! We have specialists waiting who can develop an effective treatment plan that is right for you!