II. Epidemiology

  1. Prevalence: 750,000 current injection drug users in U.S. (2014)
  2. Adults in U.S. who have used IV Drugs: 2% (or 6.5 Million)
  3. Mortality while actively injecting drugs: 2.6 per 100 person years

III. Causes

  1. Most commonly abused IV drugs
    1. Opioid Abuse
    2. Methamphetamine
  2. Other Illicit Drugs abused via injection
    1. Cocaine Abuse
    2. Ketamine Abuse

IV. Exam

  1. See Substance Abuse Evaluation
  2. See Skin changes suggestive of chemical dependency
  3. Observe for injection sites
    1. Localized Bruising or pigmentation changes
    2. Antecubital fossa (most common)
    3. Upper arms
    4. Hands
    5. Fingers
    6. Neck
    7. Groin
    8. Toes

VI. Complications: Infection

  1. Bloodbourne Pathogens
    1. Human Immunodeficiency Virus
    2. Viral Hepatitis
      1. Hepatitis B
      2. Hepatitis C
  2. Skin, soft tissue, Muscle and bone (Skin InfectionPrevalence 6-32%)
    1. Skin Abscess
      1. Polymicrobial infections
    2. Cellulitis
      1. Typically Staphylococcus or Streptococcus infections
    3. Necrotizing Fasciitis
    4. Septic Thrombophlebitis
    5. Wound Botulism
    6. Osteomyelitis
      1. Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus A and G are most common
      2. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Eikenella corrodens and candida also occur in IVDA
    7. Pyomyositis
    8. Tetanus
  3. Lung
    1. Aspiration Pneumonia
    2. Pulmonary Tuberculosis
    3. Septic Pulmonary Embolism
    4. Community Acquired Pneumonia
      1. Typical CAP organisms, with a higher rate of Staphylococcus aureus and Anaerobic Bacteria
      2. Up to 2.1% annual Incidence, >5 fold higher than general population
  4. Cardiovascular
    1. Infectious Endocarditis (and septic emboli)
      1. Up to 12% lifetime Prevalence in injection drug users (and higher rates of reinfection)
      2. More commonly affects right sided Heart Valves (esp. tricuspid valve)
      3. Staphylococcus aureus is the causative organism in 68% of cases (only 28% in non-IVDA cases)
    2. Mycotic aneurysm
  5. Neurologic
    1. Epidural Abscess
    2. Brain Abscess
    3. Meningitis

VII. Complications: Non-infectious

  1. Skin
    1. See Dermatologic findings in chemical dependency
    2. Compulsive Skin Picking
    3. Contact Dermatitis
  2. Cardiopulmonary
    1. Cardiomyopathy or Myocarditis
    2. Chronic Venous Insufficency (>88%)
    3. Pulmonary Foreign Body Deposition (with secondary Foreign Body Granulomatosis)
      1. Unfiltered substance, crushed pill or talc/starch/cellulose contaminated injections
    4. Bullous Emphysema
    5. Severe or fatal Asthma Exacerbations
    6. Noncardiogenic Pulmonary Edema (Opioid Overdose)
  3. Psychiatric Conditions
    1. Substance Use Disorder
    2. Major Depression
    3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
    4. Bipolar Disorder
    5. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
    6. Dependent Personality Disorder
    7. Antisocial Personality Disorder
    8. Intimate Partner Violence
  4. Miscellaneous
    1. See specific agents
    2. Rhabdomylolysis (Cocaine, Methamphetamine)
    3. Splenic Abscess

VIII. Complications: Specific agent effects

  1. See specific agents for their complications
  2. Opioid Abuse
  3. Methamphetamine
  4. Ketamine Abuse
  5. Cocaine Abuse
    1. Splenic infarct (Cocaine)
    2. Perforated Peptic Ulcer Disease
    3. Cocaine-Induced Coronary Vasospasm

XI. Prevention: Safer Injection Practices

  1. See Opioid Abuse, which describes safer injection techniques for those who refuse cessation and treatment
  2. Do not reuse or share needles
    1. Dispose of needles properly (in needle disposal containers) after single use
  3. Use new, sterile needles from reliable sources
    1. Needle exchange programs are available in many cities
  4. Alcohol swab injection site
  5. When preparing injection agent, use clean water and a new or disinfected container (cooker)

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Related Studies

Ontology: Intravenous Drug Abuse (C0086181)

Definition (CSP) abuse, overuse, or misuse of a drug by its injection into a vein.
Concepts Mental or Behavioral Dysfunction (T048)
MSH D015819
English Drug Abuse, Intravenous, IVDA, ivda, intravenous drug abuse, Intravenous drug abuse, Intravenous Drug Abuse
Portuguese Abuso de Drogas Endovenosas, Abuso de Drogas Intravenosas
French Abus de drogue intraveineuse, Abus de drogue intra-veineuse, Abus de drogue par voie intra-veineuse, Abus de drogue par voie intraveineuse
German Intravenöser Drogenmißbrauch, Arzneimittelmißbrauch, intravenöser
Italian Abuso di farmaci per endovena
Norwegian Intravenøst legemiddelmisbruk, Legemiddelmisbruk, intravenøst, Stoffmisbruk, intravenøst
Czech drogy - abúzus nitrožilní
Dutch Drugmisbruik, intraveneus
Spanish Abuso de Drogas Intravenosas

Ontology: Intravenous drug user (C0242566)

Definition (NCI) A person who injects recreational drugs.
Concepts Patient or Disabled Group (T101)
SnomedCT 389299009, 390034003, 228388006
English IVDU, IVDU (intravenous drug user), intravenous drug user, IV drug user, Intravenous drug user (IVDU), IDU, Intravenous Drug User, Intravenous drug user, intravenous (IV) drug use, IDU - Intravenous drug user, Injects drugs intravenously, IV - Intravenous drug user, IVDU - Intravenous drug user, IVU - Intravenous drug user, Mainlines, Intravenous drug user (finding)
Dutch intraveneuze druggebruiker (IVDU), intraveneuze drug gebruiker
French UDI, Utilisateur de drogues injectables (UDI)
German IVDU, intravenoese Drogen, Benutzer (IVDU)
Italian Soggetto che assume droga per via endovenosa, Tossicomane per via endovenosa (IVDU)
Portuguese Consumidor de droga intravenosa
Spanish Consumidor de drogas intravenosas (CDIV), CDIV, adicto a drogas endovenosas (hallazgo), adicto a drogas endovenosas, drogadicto endovenoso
Japanese 静脈注射薬使用者, ジョウミャクチュウシャヤクシヨウシャ
Czech Injekční uživatel drog
Hungarian Intravénás kábítószert használó (IVDU)

Ontology: Injecting drug user (C0556025)

Concepts Finding (T033)
SnomedCT 138450001, 161179003, 226034001
Dutch injectie druggebruiker
French Utilisateur de drogues injectables
German Injektionsdrogensuechtiger
Italian Utilizzatore di droga per via iniettiva
Portuguese Consumidor de droga injectada
Spanish Consumidor de drogas inyectables, consumidor de drogas inyectables (hallazgo), consumidor de drogas inyectables
Japanese 注射薬使用者, チュウシャヤクシヨウシャ
Czech Uživatel injekčních drog
English Injection drug user, drug injecting users, injection drug user, drug injection users, misuses drugs injecting, misuses drugs injecting (history), IDU - Injecting drug user, Injecting drug user, Drug injector, Injecting drug user (finding)
Hungarian Injekciós gyógyszert használó