The major risks of intravenous drug use results from unsanitary conditions. Dirty syringes and paraphernalia cause blood borne diseases and infections. Bacteria are the cause of abscesses at injection sites. They can lead to sepsis and limb amputation if left untreated. Sepsis is a serious complication, which results in death unless the user is administered intravenous antibiotics immediately. Infection can spread from the original injection site to include the whole arm or leg, resulting in emergency amputation of the limb. Injecting drugs in the leg can cause circulation problems, which also can lead to amputation.
Injection of heroin is dangerous due to the bacteria found in the drug. It is produced in unsanitary conditions and adulterated with anything from talcum powder to milk sugar. Endocarditis is common among heroin abusers. Bacteria from the drug infect the lining of the heart. Liver disease such as Contracting hepatitis and cirrhosis is a common problem. Repeated use damages the liver, scars form that develops into cirrhosis. Hepatitis B and C are viruses that affect the liver. Hepatitis can become chronic and develop into serious complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. There is a high risk of overdose when injecting heroin. The potency varies and the user has no way of knowing how strong the drug is.
Meth poses a danger for different reasons than heroin. Injecting meth is a danger due to the systemic effect the drug produces. A sudden surge of meth into the body, such as when injected, causes a spike in blood pressure. A sudden rise in blood pressure can lead to strokes and heart attacks. This affect poses a higher risk in someone with pre-existing hypertension or cardiac problems. Abscesses and infection also occur with meth injection, although not as often as with heroin.
Intravenous drug use, considered the worst form of abuse, is a problem. Drug use, no matter how innocent it seems, needs addressing. Any drug can lead to intravenous use. The key is to resolve the problem while it is small, before it becomes full-blown addiction.