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The Threat of Needle Use and Addiction: Bacterial Infection

April 1, 2013

needlesIt’s not just HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C that are threatening the health of intravenous drug users. Bacterial infections are just as deadly – they’re also far more common. It’s a threat that few people take seriously, including addicts who have seen how deadly bacterial infections can be. Few take precautions to protect themselves, and many may not realize when they have an infection that can end their lives.

Though bacterial infections are treatable, the best way to avoid them is not to get one at all. Drug addiction treatment that ends use of needles for any purpose is the best way to achieve true safety from an infection. Need more information? Contact us at Axis.

Bacterial Infections

They often begin with an abscess. When a needle user injects heroin or crystal meth into the muscle instead of using a vein – a common practice among long-term users who find it difficult to find a vein that hasn’t collapsed due to chronic needle use – it’s easy for the injection spot to get infected. Sometimes these abscesses heal on their own, but often they become infected. A bacterial infection will not heal without antibiotics and, without treatment, it can worsen. When the infection becomes systemic, it becomes life-threatening. Patients will ultimately end up in the hospital – where it may be too late to administer antibiotics and quell the infection. Even those who survive are often changed permanently: paralysis, the loss of a limb, the lifelong necessity for round-the-clock treatment are all common results.

The Risk of Bacterial Infections

It is estimated that as many as 33 percent of drug users who use needles have dealt with a bacterial infection. It is believed that between 5 and 10 percent of injecting drug users have a bacterial infection at any given time.

It’s also important to note that not all bacterial infections are created equal. One type of infection, called MRSA, is referred to as a super bug because it is resistant to most antibiotics.

Additionally, widespread prevention measures and education about safe practices with needle use has helped to limit the spread of HIV and hep B among intravenous drug users. However, little attention has been paid in the form of education or prevention when it comes to bacterial infections and many addicts have only word of mouth

Stop the Risk

The best way for your loved one to avoid bacterial infection through needle use is to get treatment and put drug use of all kinds behind them. Here at Axis, we can provide comprehensive detox and psychotherapeutic care to help them free themselves from the risks of addiction. Call now for more information.

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