What are the Risks an IV Drug User Faces?

Drug use comes with all sorts of dangers. IV drug use, or injecting drugs directly into the veins, only makes the danger even more significant. Drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and meth can be dissolved into water and injected, combining the most dangerous drugs with one of the most dangerous methods of consuming those drugs.

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Why IV Drugs?

The reason users like to use the injection method is simple.  They want the high immediately, and they get just that with injection. Drugs usually begin working when they enter the bloodstream. Injecting those drugs directly into the bloodstream ensures that they start working right away. A user can get high within seconds instead of within several minutes.


In addition to working more quickly, injected drugs also work more strongly than drugs that are consumed via other methods. Before most drugs arrive at the bloodstream, they go through the liver and other filtering systems in the body. Direct injection, on the other hand, means that the drugs aren’t diluted by the body’s natural mechanisms.

IV Drugs and Addiction

Many drugs work by taking over the brain’s pleasure and reward system. The human brain releases dopamine, a happiness-boosting chemical. Many drugs work by sending the brain’s dopamine production into overdrive. When the body starts to depend on this flood of dopamine, an addiction begins to form.


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Because IV drugs work so quickly and strongly, the dopamine reaction happens faster. Therefore, the addiction happens faster. Furthermore, IV drugs can cause users to build a quick tolerance, meaning that they’ll need larger amounts of the drugs to achieve the same impact that they used to experience.

HIV and Other Infections

People using needles to inject drugs face a higher risk of becoming infected with HIV or other serious infections.


Drug users don’t always have access to clean needles, and sometimes people share needles. These practices, combined with the impaired judgement that comes from drug use, mean that a person who abuses drugs could face life-threatening illnesses.


Those who use IV drugs also risk contracting bacterial infections from repeated or incorrect needle use. Sepsis, which comes with confusion, chills, fever, and several other symptoms, is a common ailment in people who inject their drugs. IV drug users may also develop lesions and other visible skin infections.

In 2015, 6% of HIV diagnoses were caused by IV drug use.

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Overdose Symptoms

IV drug use also comes with a high risk of overdose. As explained above, the injection method brings a very strong impact. As a result, one can overdose on IV drugs with a much smaller amount than it would take to overdose using other methods. Overdose symptoms may differ depending on the drug of choice, but generally, a person who experiences overdose may face seizures, heart attack, coma, and even death.

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Other Risks

Other risks from IV drug use range in their severity. Other possible dangers from drug injection include, but are not limited to the dangerous symptoms in the list below:

  • Vein and artery damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Vasculitis
  • Cuts
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • Stroke

Treatment Options

Treatment for IV drugs should begin with detox in a medical facility. As the drugs leave a person’s body, this person will likely experience several uncomfortable symptoms called withdrawal. Symptoms vary depending on the drug of choice, but they may include chills, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue. Withdrawal also carries the risk of seizure and other life-threatening emergencies. While one can detox at home, doctors recommend medical detox because it provides more safety and comfort.


After detox, a person with an IV drug addiction should enter rehab if at all possible. Rehab centers provide several different types of therapy to help participants start their recovery. In addition to detox and rehab, those who struggle with addiction can also seek other options such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and addiction support groups.


After rehab, a solid aftercare program should be in place. This plan will help reduce chances of relapse. With a strong support system in place, continued sobriety is possible. Associating with old friends after rehab should be approached with caution. Bad influences should be avoided to prevent falling back into old habits.

Getting Help

If you’re struggling with an addiction to injecting drugs, or if someone you love is struggling with this addiction, you know how challenging it can be to recover. These powerful drugs create powerful addictions, and overcoming them will take a lot of dedication and support.


We can help. Call Rehab Info at 1-800-492-QUIT.



At Rehab Info, we’re here to help you find that support.

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