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How IV Use Adds Another Level Of Risk | The Partnership

September 23, 2019


No one sets out to have a
substance use disorder and no one ever imagines turning to IV substance use.
This is for an understandable reason. Using intravenously introduces a whole
new layer of risk. For someone struggling with substance use, the addiction can be
much stronger than any sense of risk. You shouldn’t assume that simply knowing the
risks will be an effective deterrent for your son or daughter. Opioid misuse in
any form already poses significant risk of overdose and death, especially when
combined with other drugs. Using intravenously escalates these risks even
further by taking a greater toll on one’s health and by making one more
susceptible to using drugs contaminated with other toxins or cut with highly
potent and deadly fentanyl. Fentanyl, whether used knowingly or not, has become responsible for a disproportionate number of overdose deaths. Just an
infinitesimal amount is enough to prove deadly. The most common health risks specific to IV substance use include diseases such
as HIV, Hepatitis, a weakened immune system, infections of the heart, skin
abscesses, inadequate blood flow to arms and legs, tissue death and blood clotting
disorders. Helping your son or daughter engage with
a comprehensive treatment program, including medication, is the best course
of action, but it can take time to get there, especially given wait lists and program availability. Taking some steps to reduce
the risks to their life and health, such as following safer injection practices,
not using alone or mixing substances and having naloxone, also called “Narcan” on
hand in the event of overdose, is a vital safeguard along the pathway there. The
longer-term goal is recovery, but for someone struggling with a severe opioid
disorder and still in active use, the immediate focus is on staying alive,
until they are willing and able to get help. Are you concerned IV drug use may
be an issue for your son or daughter? Keep watching to identify warning signs
and learn what you can do.

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