Abuse Intravenous Drugs (IDUS)

Head | Psychiatry | Abuse Intravenous Drugs (IDUS) (Disease)


Drug injection is a method of introducing a drug into the body in substance dependence and recreational drug use. This procedure is done with a hollow needle and a syringe which is pierced through the skin into the body usually intravenous, but also intramuscular or subcutaneous.

Causes and risk factors

Although there are various methods of taking drugs, injection is favored by some users as the full effects of the drug are experienced very quickly, typically in five to ten seconds. It also bypasses first-pass metabolism in the liver, resulting in a higher bioavailability for many drugs than oral ingestion would, so users get a stronger effect from the same amount of the drug. The most commonly injected drugs are heroin and other opiates, cocaine and amphetamines.

Injection of drugs with needles that are not sterile leads to the potential for a wide variety of infections. Such infections include: human immunodeficiency virus (the causative agent for AIDS), viral hepatitis (particularly hepatitis B and C), and bacterial infections. Persons with a history of intravenous drug abuse also are more likely to have tuberculosis of the lungs. The drug heroin can produce a nephropathy in the kidney that resembles focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. With IV drug abuse, skin and soft tissue bacterial infections are commonplace.

This high rate of infection is due to: injection of drugs into the fatty layer under the skin (skin popping); leakage of drugs out of veins during the injection (extravasations); tissue death due to toxic materials in drugs; increased numbers of bacteria on the skin surface. Signs of infections in an IV drug user usually present as areas of redness, warmth and tenderness (inflammation).

Diagnosis and treatment

The most effective treatments for drug abuse and addiction in general are cognitive-behavioral interventions that are designed to help modify the patient’s thinking, expectancies, and behaviors related to their drug use and to increase skills in coping with life stressors....