Signs Someone is Shooting Up

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Substance Abuse and Addiction: Signs Someone is Shooting Up

Regardless of the drug being abused, shooting up drugs carries a host of additional problems apart from the dangers of drug abuse. In 2014, the rate of hepatitis C infections increased by 400 percent, which aligned with an increase in the intravenous use of opioids (622 percent). Intravenous (IV) drug use is clearly dangerous, and knowing the signs someone is shooting up can be vital.

How do you know if someone is addicted to opiates? Click here to learn theĀ 6 signs of opioid addiction in adults.

In the early stages of substance abuse, it may be difficult to notice the problem as the addict does their best to hide their abuse from those around them. However, as time goes by, it becomes easier and easier to spot the signs someone is shooting up. The signs someone is shooting up drugs, what type of drugs are most commonly used intravenously, and what king of drug paraphernalia to be on the lookout for will be discussed in this article.

What Drugs do People Shoot Up With?

Heroin may be the first thing people think of when they think of a drug addict shooting up, but it is just one of many drugs that people can inject into their blood stream to get a more powerful and instantaneous kick.

Illicit Drugs

Before we look at the signs of shooting up drugs, we will first list the substances that are most commonly used intravenously. They are as follows:

  • DMT
  • Anabolic steroids
  • PCP
  • Bath salts
  • Ketamine
  • Flakka
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy

Prescription Opioids

Prescription opioid pain relievers are another type of drug that is often crushed and combined with water or alcohol to make an injectable solution. This is sometimes done to bypass the anti-abuse properties that have been added to newer versions of drugs. Some of the opioid pain relievers that are used in such a way include:

  • Oxycodone, which goes under the brand name OxyContin
  • Hydromorphone, which goes under the brand name Dilaudid
  • Meperidine, which goes under the brand name Demerol

Prescription Sedatives

Prescription sedatives is another type of medication that is often injected, and the medications include:

  • Sleeping medications, or Z-drugs
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates

Prescription Stimulants

Prescription stimulants that are injected by substance abusers include:

  • Methylphenidate, which goes under the brand name Ritalin
  • Amphetamine, which goes under the brand name Adderall

Not only are the above-mentioned drugs commonly injected, but they can also be combined to produce an even more potent, and an often more-dangerous effect. For example, heroin and cocaine are frequently combined, which is called a “speedball”.

Why Do People Inject Drugs?

With the increased risks, it can be hard to understand why people would inject drugs directly into their blood stream. So, why do they do it? One of the main reasons why people inject drugs into their system is the heightened effect that it has. Once a drug is injected, it instantly travels throughout the body and into the brain – where most drugs take effect. The intense rush that injecting a drug has can increase the effect, compared to smoking it or taking a pill orally.

As tolerance develops, many people opt for IV drugs. Smoking or taking a pill may not work as it once did, so people find other ways to get their high.

How to Tell If Someone is Doing Drugs

Some of the most common signs someone is shooting up drugs are the same as any type of drug use that causes an addiction. One of the ways on how to tell if someone is doing drugs is the way they act or behave.

The signs someone is shooting up are as follows:

  • Even when it’s warm out, the person may wear long sleeves to cover up the marks left by the needles, known as track marks.
  • The person become defensive or evasive when you ask them about possible substance abuse.
  • In the case of prescription medication abuse, doctor shopping to be able to get more prescriptions is common.
  • The person is unable to control their drug use frequency and amount.
  • Hiding or hoarding drugs and prescriptions, and even stealing it.
  • Putting a lot of effort and time into finding and abusing drugs.
  • Excessively talking and thinking about substance use.
  • They experience cravings for drugs, which often makes them restless among other symptoms.
  • Since substance abuse becomes an addict’s priority, many other responsibilities become neglected.
  • Using money needed for important things on drugs instead.
  • Loss of interest in previously-enjoyed activities.
  • A development of a tolerance.
  • Spending more time with other drug users and less time with their old friends.

If these signs of shooting up drugs are present, then it’s time to consider effective options for getting the person help. If you cannot convince them to get help or that there is a problem, then how to help a loved one with drug addiction can require an intervention, possibly one that is professionally assisted.

Drug Paraphernalia

One of the signs someone is shooting up is drug paraphernalia. In order to shoot up, an addict must have specific equipment, which can sometimes be referred to as “gear”. It can come as a shock to find a used needle with a burnt spoon when you haven’t noticed any signs of shooting up drugs, but such a discovery can make it clear that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Common drug paraphernalia for IV drug users include:

  • A lighter.
  • Hard surface with traces of a crushed, powdery substance, such a mirror.
  • Alcohol swabs.
  • Razer blades used in preparation.
  • Filter material, such as cotton balls or cigarette filters.
  • An acidic substance, such as citric acids or lemon juice.
  • A spoon or tinfoil, which is often burnt.
  • An item used to help enlarge veins, such as a rubber band or tube.

These items are generally kept together, and can be one of the clear signs someone is shooting up.

How to Help a Loved One with Drug Addiction

There may be little that you can personally do to help a loved one with drug addiction. By making yourself solely responsible for their wellbeing, it can put unnecessary stress on your shoulders, and it can fill you with guilt when you’re unable to help them.

However, there is always help available – and it’s just a phone call away. Drug rehabilitation programs are by far the best way to help a person overcome substance abuse. They can not only help them with the behavioral therapy, detox, relapse prevention, and aftercare services that addicts need to gain their sobriety, but rehabs often assist in the intervention process to help the addict realize the scope of their problem.

To find help for a loved one addicted to drugs, and possibly injecting it into their bloodstream, call Better Addiction Care at 1-800-429-7690 today.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/pwid/index.html

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drug-use-viral-infections-hiv-hepatitis