Drug Addiction

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines (BZD) are considered a depressant, which means they slow down the messaging between the brain and the body. Generally, benzodiazepines are prescribed by a physician to treat a variety of conditions, including but not limited to anxiety, sleep disturbances, and epilepsy. Whether prescribed by a treating physician or not, benzodiazepines are highly addictive.

Benzodiazepines are divided into three categories: long, intermediate, and short-acting. Ironically, short-acting benzodiazepines have “stronger withdrawal symptoms and can be more addictive than long-acting ones.” These BZD drugs are also referred to as benzos.

Common brand names include Valium, Diazepam, Librium, Tranxene, Ativan, Murelax, Serepax, Xanax, and Klonopin. All these benzo drugs should be used in conjunction with other therapies: psychological treatments and antidepressants, and lifestyle changes. In general, they are not recommended for use over time. Depending on the type of benzodiazepine prescribed, use can range from a few days to, at most, a few weeks.

Do not be lulled into complacency because your physician prescribed you medication. Sadly, many primary physicians are unaware of the addictive nature of many prescribed drugs. Your prescribing physician needs to understand other drugs you may be taking—this information can avoid negative interactions between drugs.

How Do Benzodiazepines (BZD) Work?

BZDs act as sedatives. They slow down the central nervous system while decreasing brain activity (the brain’s ability to send messages to the body). In 2020, over 93,000 people lost their lives to a drug overdose. Further, 16 percent of overdose deaths involving opioids also involved benzodiazepines. Some researchers are now finding benzodiazepines in illicit street opioids, the chemical composition of which are unknown to the consumer.

Depressants cause physical depression, muscular relaxation, and sedation. Sedatives depress most body functions, so activities that require alertness and muscular coordination should be avoided.

Some of the effects of sedatives are:

Mixing Benzodiazepines and Other Substances

Taking more than one drug within the same category, such as benzos and alcohol (also a depressant), can lead to overdose and death. As stated above, depressants slow bodily functions, this includes breathing. Fatal AND non-fatal overdoses increased from 2019-2020 in the US and worldwide. Many cases involved illicit benzos; though drug deaths from prescribed drugs still outnumber deaths from illicit benzos. There is evidence that this may be changing. The number of people taking Novel benzodiazepines (illicit benzos) has been increasing worldwide.

“Globally, benzodiazepines are among the most widely prescribed psychotropic drugs with over 30 different variations, each with common mechanisms of action which produce a range of similar effects for individuals.”

Street drugs, in combination, are always dangerous, as the chemicals in the drugs are questionable. But taking a variety of prescribed drugs is dangerous as well. “Abuse of benzodiazepines is often associated with multiple-substance abuse. Users of diazepam and alprazolam combine methadone to potentiate [increase or prolong] methadone’s euphoric effect. Cocaine addicts use benzodiazepine to relieve the side effects (irritability and agitation) associated with cocaine binges…”

Addiction can happen to anyone, whether the drugs are prescribed or not. Remember that drugs must be taken as directed, not increased or decreased at will. Adding medications prescribed by another provider unaware of the additional drugs you are taking is also unwise. Research has shown that long-term use of BZDs can create the need for increased usage.

Symptoms of too many drugs, including benzodiazepines, are;

“There is some evidence that long-term, heavy use of benzodiazepines is a risk factor for epilepsy, stroke, and brain tumors.” Additionally, benzos are associated with “amnesia, hostility, irritability, and vivid or disturbing dreams.”

In the U.S. during 2017, there were 45 million alprazolam, 26.4 million lorazepam

29.2 million clonazepam, 12.6 million diazepam, and 7 million temazepam prescribed and dispensed. (This does not include many other types of benzodiazepines prescribed or attained illegally.)

“[D]evelopment of tolerance is variable from one person to the next, but certainly can occur after just 3–4 weeks of use. Dependence can be considered in physiological and psychological terms. Physiological dependence refers to the experience of withdrawal symptoms on stopping the drug. Symptoms range from relatively minor (for example, headache, tremor, or sweating) to very serious and potentially life threatening (for example, seizures, psychosis, or delirium tremens). With psychological dependence, patients increasingly require their drug in order to cope with life events. Other negative effects resulting from long-term use include memory impairment in older patients, diminished sleep quality, daytime drowsiness, decreased reaction time, increased risk of accidents, and aggravation of existing depression or initiation of new-onset depression.”

Benzodiazepines are turning up in Opioids making withdrawal more dangerous. These drugs are known as benzo dope and purple heroin, (though purple heroin is considered an opioid) it includes fentanyl and black-market benzodiazepines. These drugs are linked to growing drug deaths in Canada, the U.S., the UK, AU and other European countries. “Fatal overdoses are more likely to occur after using benzo dope because the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone, is not effective against benzos.”

Gender Bias in Prescribing Benzodiazepines

Sadly, a recent study by the CDC demonstrated an 830 percent jump in mortality rates among women 30-64 years of age between 1999-2017 involving benzodiazepines. “Women are more likely to be prescribed these medication…[they} are more likely to come into the clinic to be treated for anxiety and depression…benzodiazepines tend to be one of the medications [prescribed].”

Treatment Can Break the Cycle of Addiction

Treatment works regardless of how or why you or a loved one has become addicted to benzodiazepines or multiple drugs. The first step in recovery is to go through a medically supervised detox. A licensed detox facility’s addiction expert, including an addiction physician, develop an individualized detox plan for you or your loved one. Once completing detox, entering a licensed substance abuse treatment program is best practice. Personalized treatment is necessary to address individual problems. Call now and speak with one of our staff to help you find the right program for your needs. Don’t hesitate; help is a phone call away. You or your loved one can break the addiction cycle and start his/her/their life again clean and sober.

References:

What is Percocet?

Percocet is an Opioid Analgesic. This type of medicine is used for the management and treatment of pain. The opioid (a chemical structure that can be natural, semisynthetic, or synthetic) interacts with the opioid receptors in your brain. The drug travels through the blood and attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain. There are five opioid receptors in the brain mu, delta, kappa, nociception, and zeta. Within these five types, there are subcategories. For our discussion, we will not pursue this complicated path.

Instead, we will focus on the general understanding of what Percocet, an opioid, does to the body, the brain, and user behavior when abused.

Percocet is in a class of drugs that are considered central nervous system depressants. When Percocet travels through the bloodstream and attaches to an opioid receptor, the drug distorts the pain signal, muffling it. Simultaneously, to the muffling of the pain signal, the body experiences a pleasurable sensation.

What is the difference between Percocet and Oxycodone?

Both medications are used to treat pain that do not respond to nonopioid medications. Oxycodone is a derivative of opium, a semi-synthetic compound from the poppy plant. It is often known as OxyContin. Percocet is both oxycodone combined with acetaminophen (Tylenol.) Both are used to treat moderate to severe pain, but Percocet is also prescribed when pain is accompanied by a fever. The acetaminophen can cause liver damage if taken in large quantities. Both drugs are highly addictive and should never be used other than how a doctor has prescribed. Both drugs are classified as Schedule II drugs.

Risk Factors Associated with the use of Percocet

Percocet is prescribed for pain treatment after surgery, a broken bone, or muscle damage. Because Percocet is combined with oxycodone and acetaminophen, it is often prescribed when oxycodone alone does not work.

Other opioids that are commonly prescribed:

Methods of Inappropriate Use of Percocet and/or Oxycodone

While taking the drug as prescribed, users may still experience drowsiness, confusion, nausea, constipation, euphoria, and slowed breathing. When the drug is being misused and/or abused, it can cause slowed breathing, “which can cause hypoxia, a condition that results when too little oxygen reaches the brain. Hypoxia can have short and long-term psychological and neurological effects, including coma, brain damage, or death.”

While states have taken steps to tighten the drug’s marketing and dispensing, which in turn has made it more expensive for illegal use, addicts have been turning to heroin, which, like Percocet, is an opioid but on the street is cheaper. People who become addicted to taking Percocet will experience extremely uncomfortable withdrawal levels.  These symptoms include but are not limited to:

Death Can Occur During Withdrawal

“How could someone die during opiate withdrawal? The answer lies in… two clinical signs presented above, vomiting and diarrhea. If untreated, persistent vomiting and diarrhea may result in dehydration, hypernatremia (elevated blood sodium level), and resultant heart failure.” The sad truth is that people do die of opioid withdrawal, which tends to be under-reported.

“From 1999 to 2020, more than 800,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Increasing rates of drug addiction have contributed to recent decreases in U.S. life expectancy.”

As with other drug addictions, the Percocet user may take the drug because he/she/they feel a sense of euphoria and well-being. Unfortunately, the body quickly becomes used to the drug and requires more to achieve those first feelings of pleasure. Usually, the drug addict will be unable to attain that feeling and will constantly be chasing the sensation by ingesting more and more of the drug. Such behavior usually occurs without regard to financial security, job security, family obligations, and health.

According to a study by the University of Queensland, Australia, “We compared… samples with individuals who were not using opioids or [who] were prescribed lower dosages, and the results showed that higher doses of prescription opioids might increase the risk of developing depressive, bipolar and anxiety disorders, particularly with prolonged use.” It should be noted that the longer one takes Percocet, the stronger the chances are that he/she/they will develop an addiction.

Using Percocet and Alcohol or other CNS drugs

All CNS drugs depress breathing, thinking, muscle movement, coordination, and a host of other functions not the least of which may be loss of consciousness. Combining Percocet with alcohol can, as stated above, slow breathing but can also lead to slowing or stopping the heart. Furthermore, the combination of Percocet and alcohol can produce intense withdrawal symptoms that include:

Breaking the Cycle of Percocet Addiction

If you or a loved one is addicted to Percocet, you/he/she/they should seek medical attention immediately. Percocet, as discussed before, is a CNS depressant and can be dangerous when suddenly discontinued. If you or a loved one has been taking Percocet in combination with other drugs, medical attention should be sought immediately. To withdraw safely from Percocet addiction or polydrug addiction, the addict must undergo a medically supervised detox where licensed addiction physicians, nurses, and staff can monitor the detox properly. In this environment, all reactions to the withdrawal can be handled without risk to the client. After completing detox, the substance abuser should enter a licensed drug treatment program as soon as possible. In a best-case scenario, the client moves from detox directly into treatment. All clients should receive an individualized detox plan followed by an individualized treatment plan. This plan needs to be regularly reviewed by the treating team allowing individual issues to be addressed as they arise. Drug treatment is not a one size fits all approach. Treatment plans must be continually reviewed and revised. To find out more about the best program for you or your loved one, call now and speak to one of our professionally trained staff members. We can answer all your questions and put your mind at ease that seeking treatment is the correct step for Percocet/polydrug addiction.

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What is Methamphetamine (Meth)?

Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant that is highly addictive and can cause multiple health problems and death. Meth, unlike many drugs, is not derived from plants. Instead, it is made from a variety of store-bought chemicals. One compound seems to be found in all methamphetamine creations: pseudoephedrine, an ingredient found in cold medicines. Other chemicals that are used to create methamphetamines can be paint thinner, ether, Freon, acetone, ammonia, iodine crystals, red phosphorus, drain cleaner, battery acid, and lithium from inside batteries.

There is currently a new form of meth being created known as P2P meth. The principal chemicals are phenyl-2-propanone, aluminum, methylamine, and mercuric chloride.

How is Methamphetamine Made?

These ingredients are then cooked together in make-shift labs or illegal labs. Most people do not understand that cooking these chemicals together creates a dangerous, explosive, and highly toxic environment. Sadly, the fumes from cooking Meth are poisonous, and often these small labs are in people’s kitchens, cars, garages, and basements, where children are regularly exposed. The impact on children exposed to the cooking process of Meth is severe, and parents who are making Meth (and usually using the drug simultaneously) often neglect their children.

Currently, the Mexican Drug Cartels are the largest manufacturer of methamphetamines. They have the super labs, though ice meth is finding its way into the US from China.

How is Methamphetamine Used?

Meth comes in many forms and can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally. Smoking and injecting meth help the drug enter the bloodstream and brain quickly, producing an intense rush. Snorting or orally ingesting the drug creates a euphoria that is not as intense as the rush.

Meths Impact on the body

Meth negatively impacts the central nervous system. This system connects the brain and the spinal cord, and then the peripheral nervous system, which connects the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body. As the name implies, the central nervous system is the body’s processing center. Meth as a stimulant that is highly addictive. Yet, like other addictions, regular use requires more of the drug to induce the sense of euphoria that accompanies the first usage. Beyond the need or craving for more of the drug, there are clear signs that a person has been using meth regularly. Long-term use can produce:

The effects of long-term use have been documented by brain imaging which shows how meth changes the brain; these changes, from long-term use, are seen in the dopamine system as reduce motor coordination and verbal learning.

Other signs of long-term use include:

Like other stimulants, one can experience a binge and crash pattern to methamphetamine use. Sometimes, an addict will go on a “run” during the binge phase forgetting to eat or sleep and continue taking the drug. Overdose is possible, especially during a binge and crash phase.

“In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid, with half of those cases related to the synthetic opioid fentanyl. (CDC Wonder Multiple Causes of Death—see #42 on Meth RR.) It is important to note that cheap, dangerous synthetic opioids are sometimes added to street methamphetamine without the user knowing.”

Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Sexual Dysfunction While Using Methamphetamines

Those who use and share needles to inject meth are at a greater risk of contracting and transmitting HIV and Hepatitis B and C. People who use meth by other means than injection run the risk of contracting other sexually related diseases because meth leads people to engage in risky behaviors, including unprotected sex.

According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction, meth is a stimulant that impacts the libido, increasing risky sexual behavior. However, the irony of addiction to meth is that long-term use “may lead to reduced sexual functioning, at least in men.”

Meth users with HIV on antiretroviral therapy to treat the HIV condition are at greater risk of developing AIDS (perhaps associated with poor medication adherence). Additionally, there seems to be “greater neuronal injury [nerve damage that interrupts communications from the brain to the muscles and organs] and cognitive impairment due to HIV, [for meth users ]compared to those who do not misuse the drug.”

Increase Usage in the US of Illegal Methamphetamine

According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of 2020 (issued by the CDC), “During 2015–2018, an estimated 1.6 million U.S. adults aged ≥18 years, on average, reported past-year methamphetamine use; 52.9% had a methamphetamine use disorder, and 22.3% reported injecting methamphetamine within the past year. Co-occurring substance use and mental illness were common among those who used methamphetamine within the past year.” In 2020, there were 2.4 million adults admitted  using methamphetamine on the national survey.

Compromised Immunity and Meth Use

At a time when pandemics are circulating around the globe, methamphetamine users are working against their body’s immune system. The innate (present at birth) and adaptive (acquired over time) immune systems become compromised. The use of meth alters the production of antibodies and “reduces the ability of highly specialized cells, known as lymphocyte T-cells, to fight off pathogens [diseases and viruses].”

Additionally, the lungs and heart are adversely impacted by the use of methamphetamine. It is known that meth increases the risk of heart disease, irregular heartbeat, and the body’s ability of the heart to pump blood. Meth can cause inflammation of the lungs which can cause pneumonia, fluid in the lungs, and high blood pressure.

You can stop the cycle of binging and crashing. You can break the pattern of endless days of sleeplessness, paranoia, and self-starvation. Treatment does work. The body has profound healing qualities. But, to break the cycle of addiction and accompanying mental illness, appropriate help is needed. One of our specially trained staff can answer all your questions and put your fears to rest. Every conversation is confidential. You or your loved one can get “on the road” to recovery quickly. Call now and begin life anew.

References:

What is Depression?

Depression cannot be defined, as there are various types of depression. However, depression is treatable. But, when combined with substances (drugs/alcohol), the condition can worsen. Depression is considered a mental health disorder that can profoundly impact one’s life—it will color how a person feels about everything and how one feels about oneself. The severity of the negative feeling can be debilitating.

Substance Use Disorders (SUD) can bring on depression, or it can worsen a pre-existing depressive state.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression can be mild or severe. Symptoms of depression include:

Physical ailments such as thyroid problems, vitamin deficiency, or other serious medical conditions can mimic symptoms of depression. Without adding substance abuse to the picture, these are some of the more severe forms of depression:

The group mentioned above does not include bipolar disorders. Loss of a job, loss of a loved one, a physical assault, or any other form of intimate loss can bring on feelings of sadness and grief. These are not the same as depression. Though, how one deals with the sense of loss can lead to a depressive episode.

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the nation. Depression can affect 1 in 15 adults in any year. Women are more likely than men to experience depression, but that is not to say that men do not experience depression. Studies have shown that the pandemic has had a profound negative impact on people’s (men and women) mental health as well as the increase in the use of alcohol and drugs.

A person dealing with the overwhelming sense of helplessness or a feeling of being “other than” can often lead a person to self-medicate. When a person feels lost, hopeless, or has feelings of self-loathing, he/she/they may turn to illicit drugs or abuse drugs prescribed by a physician. The latest government National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that:

Correlation Between Depression and Substance Abuse

Both conditions involve the same brain chemistry and pathways. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is made in the brain. It is a chemical messenger between nerve cells, the brain, the brain, and the rest of the body. One of the functions of dopamine is the sensation of pleasure, though it performs many other functions. Addiction is one of the diseases associated with high levels of dopamine. Regular SUD creates changes in the brain that impact the brain’s ability to communicate clearly with the cells and organs in the body. It affects the body’s ability to make appropriate choices.

People who self-medicate and take substances to manage their depression are only worsening their mental health condition because of the changes in the brain and because the cause of the depression remains untreated.

Because drugs change the chemistry of the brain, the pathways of communication, and the ability to function, drugs can create mental health conditions such as depression.

For example, in a recent study, college students who use amphetamine stimulants also suffered from depression, diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and nicotine cravings. What many people who use alcohol and drugs do not understand is that many of these drugs: alcohol, marijuana, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opioids, Zoloft, Celexa Wellbutrin, Xanax, Klonipin, Ativan, Valium, Ambien, Prilosec, Nexium some hormone replacement drugs and many others have a side effect of depression or are depressants.

“People with SUDs are more likely than those without SUDs to have co-occurring mental disorders. Addiction counselors encounter clients with CODs [people with co-occurring disorders and SUDs] as a rule, not an exception. Mental disorders likely to co-occur with addiction include depressive disorders, bipolar I disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), personality disorders (PDs), anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, ADHD, and eating and feeding disorders.”

Treatment and Mental Health Services

Best practices for treating SUDs must also include mental health evaluations and education. A licensed treatment facility with a team of addiction experts (physicians, nurses, clinicians, etc.) is needed to continually evaluate and modify a treatment plan for someone suffering from depression and SUD. Indeed, the cause of a client’s depression requires identification: is it a pre-existing condition, or is it a response to the drugs that have changed the brain? Without treating both conditions, it is more than likely a person will relapse and return to substance use.

If you or a loved one is suffering from SUD and depression, call now to speak with a trained staff member who can answer your questions and help you arrange for the appropriate treatment.

References:

What is ADHD?

ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is one of childhood’s most common neurodevelopmental disorders. However, approximately 5% of adults suffer from ADHD as well (though some data reveals much higher numbers). The symptoms often present as trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, and being overly active. While research has not revealed all the causes of this neurodevelopmental disorder, there is agreement that it is partly genetic.

Other causes and risk factors include:

However, the focus of this blog is on adults and addiction. Symptoms of ADHD in adults look a bit different than in children. Hyperactivity, for example, may be seen as extreme restlessness. In any case, many children begin to self-medicate in their teens to manage their symptoms. Misuse of drugs and alcohol, including marijuana (which exacerbates issues like focus, memory, and impulse control), is the most common usage among teens suffering from ADHD. In a study of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) patients seeking treatment, “of 3558 subjects from ten countries, [researchers] found that 40% of subjects screened positive for ADHD…”

Adults and ADHD

Adults with untreated ADHD suffer from inattention, disorganization, forgetfulness, unreliability, difficulties completing tasks, and time management. “In middle-aged and older adults, the occurrence of depression and anxiety increases the number of ADHD symptoms…Adult ADHD is associated with problems in many spheres of life, including work (unemployment), education (low attainment), and interpersonal relationships.”

Like teens who self-medicate, many undiagnosed adults self-medicate as well. Indeed, if adults have been undiagnosed since childhood, the likelihood of addiction increases into adulthood; that is not to say that all adults with ADHD will develop a SUD. However, “studies have found that adults with ADHD are more likely than their peers without ADHD to develop a SUD sometime during their lives.”

Most college students who have reported using “diverted” prescription medication for ADHD do so to “improve school performance” and not to get high.

SUD and Adults with ADHD

According to an article in Psychiatric Times, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, and nicotine are the more commonly abused drugs among people with ADHD. Sadly, studies demonstrate that SUD complicates the symptoms of an ADHD adult.

Some adults crush and snort stimulant drugs, such as Ritalin, which increases the speed at which the user feels the drugs. Additionally, cocaine and other stimulants will be used to mitigate the effects of ADHD on behavior. These drugs are known to increase the dopamine levels in the brain, which are responsible for pleasurable feelings, focus and attention, and increased energy, among other things. Unfortunately, some drugs can mimic other mental health disorders complicating diagnosis.

“Studies in both adults and adolescents have found ADHD to be associated with earlier initiation and higher rates of lifetime substance use (nicotine 41–42%, alcohol 33–44%, cocaine 10–35%, cannabis 51%, opiates 16–19%)….”

According to this same article from Cambridge University Press:

  1. Patients presenting with substance use disorder should be screened for the presence of ADHD
  2. Screening instruments for adult ADHD can be invaluable tools in the assessment of this group
  3. Assessment of these individuals should include current and childhood history of ADHD symptoms, detailed history of current and past substance use, previous treatments, and psychiatric, family, and forensic history
  4. At least one month of abstinence is helpful for accurate and reliable assessment of ADHD symptoms
  5. It is imperative to watch for signs of possible misuses, such as missed appointments, and signs of possible diversions, such as repeated requests for higher doses and a pattern of ‘lost’ prescriptions
  6. It is essential to exclude high-risk situations (e.g., comorbid antisocial personality disorder, strong forensic history, and family member or peers with substance use disorder)

Whether SUDs cause ADHD or ADHD leads to SUD is not the issue of concern here. In the majority of cases now found among those choosing to enter SUD (alcohol and/or drug) treatment, clients suffer from co-occurring disorders. In many cases, a mental health disorder existed before drug or alcohol use, but the use of drugs exacerbates many mental health conditions. Additional mental health disorders can develop the longer a person suffers from active addiction, these conditions are impacted by the types of drugs ingested regularly.

Regardless of which comes first, the reality of dealing with a mental health disorder successfully without addressing the SUD means an unsuccessful result in the long run. Furthermore, drugs and alcohol consumption over time changes brain function. That reality will need to be addressed during treatment as well. Additionally, mental health disorders and SUDs can run in families. “Environmental factors, such as stress or trauma, can cause genetic changes that are passed down through generations…”

Treating ADHD and SUD

Treating ADHD and SUDs can be tricky. Some drugs will mimic ADHD symptoms. The goal for successful treatment protocols is to understand the client’s complete history, family history, as well as the variety of drugs/alcohol taken on a regular basis. The treatment team must make continuous comprehensive assessments in detox (the step before treatment can begin) and during treatment. People with ADHD and SUD must receive care targeted at the ADHD as well as the drug/alcohol addiction. There are a both stimulants and non-stimulants that are currently used in clinicians’ psychopharmaceutical choices. The team approach in all circumstances is considered the best approach. Multiple drug and addiction clinicians, doctors, and nurses are required to handle ADHD and SUD clients successfully.

If you believe you are suffering from ADHD (perhaps combined with anxiety, depression, and other disorders) and have a substance use disorder call our trained staff to speak with someone about treatment. Your questions are treated with the utmost confidentiality and empathy. You can get help and end the cycle of addiction and mental health decline now.

References:

What Are Track Marks?

Track marks are scars and areas of discoloration along a vein that was damaged due to injecting drugs intravenously. Track marks are often noticeable along the forearms, where visible veins are present, although they can be found anywhere on the body that has been used as an injection site. Track marks can appear as puncture wounds or as discolored and scarred veins[1]. It is estimated that more than three-quarters of intravenous drug users will eventually develop scars, with more than half still displaying those scars even after more than five years of sobriety.

What Causes Track Marks?

Track marks are one of the first signs of intravenous drug use as it is the physical scarring that occurs after someone has intravenously abused drugs. It is common to see track marks on those individuals who are struggling with severe addiction because they are regularly injecting drugs which causes this scarring to occur. Bruises often accompany the injection sites. Since track marks take time to heal, individuals often feel ashamed of their appearance.

Dangers of Intravenous Drug Use

Among the numerous possible health repercussions of using a syringe to inject substances are infections, overdose, and cardiovascular disease.

Abscesses and Cutaneous Infections
Skin infections are extremely common intravenous drug abusers. Contaminants in substances combined with generally non-sterile equipment and poor hygiene increase the risk of a possible abscess or skin infection significantly.

Scarring and Needle Tracks
It is estimated that more than three-quarters of intravenous drug users eventually develop scars in a vascular distribution.

Endocarditis
This is a condition characterized by inflammation of the interior lining of the heart and can occur from repeated intravenous drug use. If left untreated, endocarditis can damage or destroy heart valves and can lead to life-threatening complications.

HIV/AIDS
Sharing needles or failing to properly sanitize them can lead to direct transmission of blood-related conditions, including hepatitis and HIV.

Overdose Risk
When injecting drugs directly into the body, the risk of overdose greatly increases. Abusers generally cannot accurately gauge how much of a substance they are injecting into their system because of the fast action and intensity of the resulting effects [2].

How to Get Rid of Track Marks

Allow open wounds to heal
Depending on how recent the track marks were acquired, you may have open wounds or scabs. Before you proceed to the next steps, you need to allow these wounds to heal. If you try to surpass the healing process, you risk the possibility of infection.

Exfoliate the area
In order to promote skin regeneration, you need to use a gentle exfoliator on a regular basis. You can buy one at the store or make one yourself. To make one at home, all you need is olive oil and sugar. Mix the ingredients together to make the exfoliant.

Use an ointment
Following exfoliation and throughout the process, it is important to use an ointment to help your wounds heal. Neosporin makes a good one that claims to help prevent scarring. In addition, these products often contain pain relievers and will help with any pain you may have.

Give it time
The process of getting rid of track marks is a tedious one. It takes time, dedication, and commitment to a regular routine. You won’t see results overnight, but the progress will show over time. Just remember to be patient.

Cover it up with makeup
If you need immediate results, you can always use makeup to cover the track marks. Understand that this result is only temporary, and you will still need to complete the steps listed above in order to get rid of them for good. Use body makeup to cover the marks and set it with powder. It should hold all day[3].

Help for Intravenous Drug Abuse

It’s important to remember that if you’re struggling with substance abuse, you are not alone. If you or someone you know might be using or abusing intravenous drugs, there is help available. Please contact Coastal Detox today at 877-978-3125 and let us help you on your journey to recovery.


[1] Pieper, B., Templin, T. N., Kirsner, R. S., & Birk, T. J. (2009). Impact of injection drug use on distribution and severity of chronic venous disorders. Wound repair and regeneration: official publication of the Wound Healing Society [and] the European Tissue Repair Society, 17(4), 485. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1524-475X.2009.00513.x

[2] Intravenous Drug Administration Can Lead to Serious Health Problems UCLA Health: https://www.uclahealth.org/hospitals/resnick/patient-care/partial-hospitalization-and-intensive-outpatient-programs/adult-acute-partial-hospitalization-program/dual-diagnosis-intensive-outpatient-program/news-and-resources/potential-complications-iv-drug-use#:~:text=Most%20drug%20addictions%20begin%20through,injection%20(IV%20drug%20use).

[3] How to Get Rid of Track Marks on the Arms Healthfully.com: https://healthfully.com/get-rid-track-marks-arms-4500039.html

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My experience at coastal detox was very good, the staff there is terrific. They helped me get through the process of detox in a safe and professional manor.
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
2022-03-21
Verified
It been almost a year!! Thank y’all
Matthew Mcnulty
Matthew Mcnulty
2022-03-07
Verified
This is the top tier Rehab/Detox center in Southeast FL. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Their attention to detail is impressive. They specialize in treating alcohol abuse among several other conditions. If you or a loved one are looking for a blueprint on how to sober up…Coastal Detox will lead you there.
Mary Katz
Mary Katz
2022-02-26
Verified
My experience with Coastal has been one of empathy, kindness and family. From Admissions to Nurses to techs I have never felt so cared for. Food and drink 24/7. Coastal is a place I went twice. First time 14 days next 6days later for another 11. At 59 and umpteen detoxes Coastal by far is Heaven Sent! As a Nutritionist and Trainer, I'm so happy to be back....the Mary ,who was lost:)
vicky ehr
vicky ehr
2022-01-29
Verified
Great place . Helped me so much I am a 64 year old woman and this place got me sober with dignity and kindness. I highly recommend it plus the food is incredible. Rooms are really well laid out. 2 guys to a room . Each bed has its own t.v with head sets so you dont bother your roomate. Take an extra pillow and comfort blanket from home. At least 3 pairs of pj’ s sock and shoes and comfortable clothing fit. You do your own laundry there. I will send you the link to look at. After thinking all morning this is hands down the place for you. Lots of young people and fantastic therapists. For my wonderful son who suffers. From addiction the way I do.

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