Heroin Track Marks and Use Signs | Transcend Recovery Community

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An alarming estimate of 15.6 million people globally engages in IV substance abuse. Prolonged IV use leads to the development of track marks which is a common problem of IV abusers. Transcend Recovery Community is here to teach you everything you need to know, especially on identifying and treating these telling signs. Read on to find out more.

What are Track Marks?

Track marks refer to the discoloration happening in areas that are common injection sites for people engaged in intravenous drug addiction. A person who has an IV drug disorder may use a variety of drugs, whether they're prescription opioids, Heroin or Hillbilly Heroin, methamphetamine, morphine, or even PCP.

Continued morphine or heroin injection may promote an increased risk of other underlying health conditions and bloodstream infections, such as Hepatitis B, HIV, and Hepatitis C, especially when users share dull or dirty needles or use many drugs.

Apart from these health risks, developing track marks may also lead to skin infections that can worsen over time in which a person may have abscesses, scar tissue, and a collapsed vein as a result of repeated skin popping.

When signs of IV drug use are apparent, people should immediately seek help right away, to avoid worsening of addiction that may lead to comatose and even death.

What Do Track Marks Look Like?

Track marks look like tiny holes in the skin and may have various colors depending on the stages of healing of the skin. A newly-pricked injection site may appear bright red or pinkish in hue. Meanwhile, a healing injection site may appear crusty or dark purplish when a scab or scar tissue has formed. It may also look like a darkened bruise due to collapsed veins.

Where Do Track Marks Commonly Appear?

Track marks happen and may commonly appear in usual injection sites, such as the arm or the soles of the feet, or where the veins appear easily and are ready for injection. You can usually identify track marks in a particular area with the presence of scar tissue surrounding it.

How Are Track Marks Usually Covered?

You can hide track marks by usually wearing long sleeves or clothing that may cover the areas where a track mark may be located. Though quite rarely done, heroin track marks may also be concealed creatively through the use of make-up.

How Do You Get Track Marks?

An individual may get a track mark through constant injection or intravenous substance use. These small dark dots may worsen in appearance over time due to factors like collapsed veins, or the presence of an underlying infection due to needle or injection misuse.

Do Track Marks Heal?

Track marks may heal by themselves, especially if someone has a strong immune system. However, if there is constant intravenous substance misuse, the appearance of track marks can worsen over time and lead to irreparable skin damage.

Common Intravenous (IV) Drugs

a man addicted to heroin is seen here depressed and holding his head while under the influence of this illegal drug

There are many types of drugs used for injection drug use. While they may vary from chemical make-up, the end purpose for these injecting drugs is to "get high" or experience "euphoric" effects from continued IV drug use.

Here are the most common chemicals and substances attributed to intravenous drug use:

  • Cocaine - A usual suspect for most drug addiction cases, cocaine is known to be an addictive stimulant derived from Coca leaves native to South America. It's commonly known for its street names, "coke," "blow," and "crack."
  • Heroin - Extracted from the opium poppy plant, the analgesic drug is highly addictive and is regarded for its euphoric properties among drug users. The most common entryway for heroin to be used is either through smoking or injection. Heroin is also known as "dope," "smack," "H," junk," "skag," and "snow."
  • Ketamine - A drug used for anesthesia, it induces a trance-like state providing pain relief, sedation, and amnesia. It is also used to treat depression and anxiety in some cases. The Schedule III drug has hallucinogenic properties that may sedate, incapacitate, and cause short-term memory loss, making it a date rape drug.
  • Methamphetamine - Methamphetamine or "meth" is a powerful and addictive stimulant usually recognizable in its white, odorless, and crystalline-powder appearance, usually mixed with other substances such as alcohol and other drugs. It is often inhaled or injected, making it a common drug for IV drug use.
  • Morphine - The drug belongs to a classification of medicine called "narcotic analgesics" (painkillers). The highly-potent painkiller is injected into a vein, muscle, or under the skin.
  • PCP - Commonly known as "angel dust," this dangerous anesthetic is a hallucinogenic drug with mind-altering effects that can either be ingested or injected into the bloodstream.

Signs of IV Drug Use

There are many tell-tale signs of IV drug use that you can easily identify if you suspect that someone is injecting drugs or is engaged in constant IV drug use. Here are some signs to watch out for signs of intravenous drug use:

  • Track marks - These are highly recognizable and are commonly seen in the soles of the feet or the arm.
  • Skin popping or skin infections - IV drug users often neglect to care for the injection site, especially if they are regularly injecting drugs into their bodies. This may lead to skin infections, ulcers, and cysts forming in the same injection site after prolonged use.
  • Vein injuries - When IV drug users repeatedly inject drugs in the same vein, this will likely lead to bruising and vein damage. An intravenous drug user may even have collapsed veins and interrupted normal blood flow. Blood clots form as a result too.
  • Weight loss - continued drug addiction will severely affect someone's nutrition due to a decrease in appetite as one of the most common symptoms of substance abuse.

Can IV Drug Users Recover?

Just like individuals who have recovered from cocaine addiction, an IV drug user has a chance to experience recovery regardless of continued injection drug use. There are many treatment options available to help individuals improve their quality and life and eventually leave their past life riddled with substance abuse and mental health problems.

Here are the treatment programs that they may employ as part of their recovery:

  • Inpatient/outpatient mental health - This form of addiction treatment may take a minimum of 3 months to a year, depending on the severity of an individual's addiction. It may incorporate one or more treatment methods to help them fully recover.
  • Behavioral therapy - Changing one's behavioral response toward abusing drugs is a good way to induce recovery. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) are the usual behavioral addiction treatment methods under this program.
  • Alternative therapy - This may involve the use of music, visual arts, or pet therapy/animal-assisted therapy in helping individuals develop a healthier response to their addiction.

Can Transcend Recovery Community Assist with Drug Abuse?

Achieving a drug-free life may seem hard to achieve but through constant support from loved ones and healthcare providers, nothing is impossible. Transcend Recovery Community assists in addiction treatment by supplementing the treatment programs received by recovering individuals.

One of Transcend Recovery Community's main offerings is its sober living arrangements. People who are undergoing inpatient treatment can stay in recovery or transitional homes to help them focus better on their recovery while receiving ample care and support for their specific rehabilitation needs.

To know more about the other services that we offer, you may contact us right away to talk to a recovery specialist waiting online via chat, email, or phone.

Transcend Recovery Community

Transcend Recovery Community family of sober living homes provides a safe place for those undergoing mental health and addiction treatment to live with like-minded peers. Our community-based approach to sober living (similarly to a halfway house) facilitates an open and welcoming environment, where members, staff and team can provide support and encouragement on the path to a sober and healthy life. Transcend's Los Angeles sober living homes are located in some of the most iconic areas of the city, filled with luxurious and upscale amenities, providing plenty to do for those in our transitional housing community.

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