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Intravenous Drug Use

Intravenous drug use is the action of injecting a drug directly into a vein. The Latin translation of “intra venous” means “within the vein”. The simplest and most common way of intravenous drug use for recreational users is by the utilization of a hypodermic needle. The hypodermic syringe with a hollow needle was invented in 1844 by Francis Rynd. Injecting via intravenously is also known as “slamming”, “shooting up”, “banging” or “mainlining”. Most of the recreational drugs used intravenously are also possible to be used by other methods such as snorting, inhaling or smoking. Some of the reasons people inject drugs are:

Drugs that are injected take effect within 15 to 30 seconds, faster than all other methods and over 10 times faster than by snorting. When drugs are injected intravenously the effects tend to be more potent than by smoking, snorting etc. Drugs bought in the form of intravenous injections are cheaper than buying in other forms or other drugs as a whole.

Possible risks associated with injecting any drug are:

  • Potential risk of transmission of HIV if sharing needles
  • Skin infection from injecting
  • Collapsed veins
  • Poisoning due to chemicals which may be added to the drug by dealers

Heroin intravenous drug use:

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that is derived from morphine. When heroin is taken by intravenous injection it is in fact 3 to 5 times more potent than morphine.

The effects of heroin are normally felt within seconds when used via intravenous injection and the peak is reached within 10 minutes in comparison to 15 or 20 minutes when heroin is snorted or smoked. The analgesic effects will tend to last between 3 to 5 hours.

Intravenous injection creates a sensation of intense pleasure, otherwise known as a “rush” lasting for a few minutes. After the rush, for about an hour, there is a sedation effect complete with the effects of:

  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of pain (analgesia)
  • Euphoria
  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Increased empathy for others

Someone injecting heroin has the potential risks:

  • Liver damage
  • Rotting teeth
  • Nausea
  • Slowed reaction times

When coming down off heroin one can expects the following effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Convulsions
  • Vomiting
  • Uncontrollable body movements

These effects can potentially last for a few days and can be treated by medical attention from a detox/treatment center.

Methamphetamine intravenous drug use:
Methamphetamine, also known as speed, meth or chalk, is a psychoactive stimulant of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class of drugs. It can be taken via intravenous injection for a stronger and faster effect than by snorting.

The effects of methamphetamine are normally a rush felt between 1 to 2 minutes and then normal effects lasting from 4 to 8 hours.

The effects of methamphetamine taken via intravenous injection are:

  • Increased energy
  • Agitation
  • Lack of pain
  • Euphoria
  • Talkativeness
  • Confidence
  • Alertness

When injecting methamphetamine one may also:

  • Get a taste of methamphetamine in the back of the throat
  • Breathe heavily
  • Have an increased heart rate
  • Feel stronger than normal
  • Have impulsive and irrational decision making

Side effects of intravenous methamphetamine drug use are:

  • “Meth mouth” symptoms such as rotten or cracked teeth
  • Cardiovascular, kidney and liver damage
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperthermia
  • Severe cases include death

Come down effects will normally include fatigue, depression and increased appetite.

Cocaine intravenous drug use:

  • Creates an almost instantaneous sense of euphoria
  • Supreme confidence
  • Alertness
  • Increased Energy

Cocaine users may also experience:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure and temperature
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Aggressiveness
  • Paranoia
  • Delusional

Some serious side-effects of using cocaine, even only a few times, include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory problems
  • Severe Mental Disorders

The effect normally last from 5 to 10 minutes is followed by a come-down plummeting feeling sometimes alongside depression. Because of this there is strong potential for physical dependence when injecting and users will often keep injecting more and more despite that each hit taken in succession creates less intense highs than the one before.


Heroin, Methamphetamine and Cocaine are all highly addictive drugs with both a psychological and physical dependency. If addicted to any of these intravenous drugs it is recommended to check into a treatment center or attend 12-step programs.

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