Abusing most drugs in any way can lead to a number of side effects that are devastating to one’s health. Injecting drugs is largely considered to be the most dangerous method of administration, as the drug will reach the brain in mere seconds. Using illicit drugs by injection can cause harm to the vein as well as the body because of the strength of the dosage when used in this manner. There are a large number of substances administered by injection, some legally and some illegally. The following will detail which drugs these are and why injection is a preferred method of drug use for some individuals.
Substances Typically Administered by Injection
Most drugs can be whittled down into a liquid form to be injected, but some are more widely injected than others due primarily to the intense high they produce. It’s important to note that the vast majority of people who inject drugs into their systems are doing so for recreational purposes. However, there are certain medications that are also injected into the body for medical purposes, such as morphine.
Heroin is easily the most common drug of choice among users who choose to inject substances into their bodies, though cocaine is a close second. As these two drugs are already exceedingly potent when administered in standard form, injecting them only leads to health risks and dangers that could cause serious complications. Methamphetamine is another drug typically administered by injection, as are a large number of benzodiazepines, barbiturates and amphetamines. Taking any of these drugs through injection is highly dangerous and could be life-threatening.
Why Injection Is a Preferred Method of Drug Use
Injection is a preferred method of drug use primarily because it leads to the strongest high a person can typically achieve. Two of the other standard methods of administration include snorting and inhaling. While these two routes lead to heightened effects in most cases, injecting drugs directly into the body will create a strong high within a mere 15 to 20 seconds. The rapidity and strength of the high are what draw drug users to injection in the first place. However, injection isn’t usually the first step drug users take when trying a new drug. As the user continues to take a drug through other methods of administration, he’ll keep yearning for a stronger and more intense experience when using the substance. This is typically what leads to experimentation with injection.
When a drug is injected straight into the bloodstream, it skips the standard phase known as the “first pass effect.” This effect is part of the metabolism occurring within the liver, which breaks down a drug and reduces its effects by a rather sizable amount before the substance enters into circulation and heads toward the brain. When a drug is injected it goes directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the first pass effect, and will therefore cause the user to receive a potent reaction from a standard dosage. As such, even taking a medication at the prescribed dosage through injection can lead to abuse of the drug and cause a wide range of damaging effects, both short- and long-term. It’s because of the strength of the high that injection is such a common route of administration.
It’s also important to understand that snorting a drug or inhaling it doesn’t automatically lead to addiction. However, injection not only reaches the brain faster, it also leads to a much shorter high than usual – albeit one that’s extremely potent. Because of this, users tend to inject repeatedly in a small window of time, which often leads to full blown addiction. Once a person has become addicted to a drug primarily through injection, it’s not likely she’d revert back to snorting or inhaling the drug instead.
The Health Risks of Injecting Drugs
Injecting a drug into the body carries serious risks, all of which can be damaging to the user’s health. For one, doing so increases the chances the body will start becoming more and more dependent on the drug to function properly. As this dependency increases, the effects of the same dosage reduce and the user is left with the need to take a higher dosage to obtain the same effects.
Once a person has become addicted to a substance, the only way to recover is by receiving treatment. Outside of addiction, there are plenty of other dangers surrounding injection that aren’t seen as often with other routes of administration. For instance, injecting certain drugs like cocaine and amphetamines will increase the chances of experiencing severe psychosis, an aching sensation throughout the body and insomnia, as well as the worsening of whatever side effects are felt when abusing the drug of choice.
While the user will suffer from plenty of health risks based on the strength of the high of the substance being injected, there are a number of risks associated with the act of injection itself, including everything from damaged skin to serious infections within the veins. At the worst, these veins could collapse. Certain effects like swelling and bruising could also occur. Injecting straight into the neck will heighten the chances of suffering from a stroke. It’s also important not to share needles and syringes, as this could cause the transmission of blood-borne infections, such as Hepatitis B or C and HIV. Injecting a drug into the body makes it likely the user will suffer an overdose. Due to the potency of injection, this overdose could be deadly.