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Substance Abuse and the Importance of Wound Care

It is no secret that substance abuse can lead to many different health problems. One of the most serious health issues is the prevalence of skin and flesh wounds, especially in people who inject drugs with a needle. Substance abuse and wound care often end up going hand in hand, and yet many people still do not seek treatment. This can be due to worrying about being judged harshly for their addiction, or simply because a user is not aware of the seriousness of this issue. Left untreated, substance abuse wounds can lead to very serious health problems and an even higher risk of death.

Drugs That Can Cause Wounds

All drug-related wound symptoms can present very serious risks to both the short and long-term health of a person. While it may be difficult to seek help when a person is stuck in the cycle of addiction, it is absolutely necessary to help prevent long-term, painful problems with their overall health and well-being.

Commons drugs and the wounds they cause include:

Heroin

Many people inject heroin with unclean needles or share needles with others, which can lead to a number of different kinds of wounds. Abscesses can form due to how unsterile needles used may be. Infections underneath the skin can develop that, if left untreated, can cause many different serious health issues. These include skin lesions, blood clots, and even sepsis, a potentially deadly bodily reaction to bacteria in the blood. 

Another reason why heroin carries such a high risk of wounds is that it is often mixed with citric acid. When injected, the citric acid in heroin can cause acid burns in blood vessels, veins, or other tissues. This causes the tissue to die, or to turn “necrotic,” which can result in amputation if not treated immediately.

Cocaine/Crack Cocaine

Both cocaine and crack cocaine can cause different types of open sores, typically when either drug is injected. These drugs can cause skin ulcers, abscesses, necrosis, and something called pustulosis. Pustulosis are small pimple-like bumps on the skin that are filled with pus and can pop open and bleed. People who smoke crack cocaine also often suffer from something called “crack hands”. This is a blackening of the fingers or hands from both smoke and frequent burns.

Cocaine is often cut with toxic substances which the user does not know they are ingesting. A common one is levamisole, which is a cow and horse dewormer. Consumption by humans of this substance can cause tissue to build up, resulting in open skin sores and rotting of the skin.

Methamphetamine/Meth

One of the hallmarks of serious meth addiction is open sores on the body. When people are high on meth, they often experience hallucinations that make them think that there are bugs under their skin, typically called “meth mites” or “crank bits”. When meth users have these hallucinations, they pick at their skin in order to get the imaginary insects out. This leads to open sores, which are a prime candidate for infection if not kept clean and dry. These infections can lead to tissue death, sepsis, and amputation.

Krokodil

While this drug originated in Russia, it has recently begun gaining popularity in the U.S. Krokodil is the street name for desomorphine, a semi-synthetic opioid, and is considered a cheaper alternative to heroin. Krokodil is very dangerous because it is created using a mixture of toxic chemicals like gasoline, battery acid, and paint thinner. This makes it especially notorious for causing various wounds. Many people refer to it as a “flesh-eating drug” or “zombie drug”. It causes skin and bone infections, abscesses, skin and tissue death, gangrene, and sepsis. Any of these issues can lead to amputation if not treated properly by a trained medical professional.

Substance Abuse and Wound Care

If you are abusing drugs, you need to take proper care of any wounds you may have, even if you are not ready to seek help at an addiction rehab facility. Substance abuse and wound care often end up going hand in hand, so it’s important to know what to do if you have a drug use-related wound.

Tips for Addiction-Related Wound Care 

Substance abuse and wound care often end up going hand in hand, making it important to take proper care of any wounds you may have. Seeking help for addiction and wound care from professionals constitutes the ideal approach, but even if a person is not ready to seek help, they can educate themselves on what to do to help treat drug use-related wounds.

If you have an open wound or think that you have a skin or tissue infection from drug use, there are steps that you should follow to help prevent these issues from becoming serious or life-threatening. These include:

  • Keep the wound clean and free of dirt or debris. Wash and disinfect the area daily and keep it dry.
  • Seek help from a trained medical professional. Emergency rooms frequently see people with substance abuse and wound care needs. They are trained to provide immediate care for them. They also will give you advice on how to care for the wound yourself at home. 
  • Try to eat more fat and protein on a regular basis, as these two compounds are what your body uses to heal itself.
  • If you start experiencing fever, chills, or pain around a wound, your armpits, or your groin, seek immediate medical help. This can be a sign that you have developed sepsis, which needs to be treated immediately due to the high risk of death.

Wound Care Services in Nashville

The combination of substance abuse and wound care is commonly seen at addiction treatment facilities across the nation. We employ highly-trained staff that can help heal your drug use-related wounds, and treat any lingering side effects that they may cause. We also help you get to the root cause of your drug or alcohol addiction and help you find the path to long-term sobriety and a healthy life. Contact Detox Nashville today to get started on recovery for your mind and body.

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