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Heroin Track Marks

The bruises were healing, the scabs and dark patches of skin were fading. You were finally able to wear a T-shirt again, for the first time in months. Although people still seemed to give you judgmental looks, you felt confident in yourself, knowing how much worse your arms used to look. It had been weeks since you decided to walk away from heroin, and you couldn’t be prouder. But then life happened.
Heroin Track Marks

You get a call that your mom has passed away in a car accident. You didn’t always get along, especially with your choices for drugs instead of family, but she was always cheering you on each time you quit. You feel distraught, overwhelming guilt taking over your whole being. There is only one way you know how to cope with this type of pain. Before you know it, your arms are back to the way they used to be, and that t-shirt hangs in the back of the closet.

In Pinellas County, more than 1 person dies of an opioid overdose every 14 hours. At Clean Recovery Centers, we know all too well about the myriad of effects that heroin can have on the body, mind, and spirit. It is our goal to work within our communities to provide education and resources for those in need. Today, we are talking about heroin track marks and what they mean for you or a loved one.

What Are Heroin Track Marks, and What Do They Look Like?

When it comes to heroin, there are different ways to use it. While smoking, snorting, and swallowing are all methods of use, the most common is injecting into the veins. Heroin is a synthetic opioid, and when injected it creates instant effects of euphoria. But with injecting heroin comes side effects.

Track marks refer to the bruises and needle marks left from injecting heroin. Think of when you get a vaccine or have blood drawn. The injection site tends to bruise or swell. The same happens with heroin, except the injections are happening much more frequently. The body doesn’t have time to heal, and the puncture wounds can become infected. Abscesses and open wounds can form, and veins can collapse to where they can no longer be injected into.

The appearance of track marks can vary. They can start as small pinpoints with bruising to large, pencil size holes with deterioration. The longer the person injects heroin, the more track marks will become more noticeable.

Where On the Body Do You Commonly Find Track Marks?

Heroin is injected into the veins. This means that anywhere on the body that has veins can have track marks. They typically present on the forearms, around the area you would have blood taken. However, some people try to conceal their heroin use and inject it in other places. These can include the upper arms, neck, between the toes, and the groin area. As veins collapse, new areas will need to be used in order to inject heroin. Track marks are one of the telltale signs of heroin use.

How Long Do Heroin Track Marks Last?

Heroin side effects can last even after use has stopped. When using heroin, basic needs are put on the back burner. People often forget to eat or take care of themselves hygienically. This can lead to illness and infection, especially at injection sites. Track marks can take weeks to heal, even longer with poor nutrition and a weakened immune system. When the track marks do heal, they can leave scars behind.

The Dangers of IV Drug Use

Heroin Track Marks - Addiction Treatment in FloridaIntravenous (IV) drug use always presents a danger. Using dirty or shared needles brings the risk of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and infections. Thankfully, IDEA Exchange Tampa is a needle exchange program where used needles and syringes can be disposed of safely, and new, clean syringes are distributed. This helps reduce the risks of transmittable disease and keeps needles off the streets for unsuspecting people to find.

A clean needle is not the only worry when it comes to IV heroin use. Cutting agents such as “Rizzy” powder have been emerging recently. This powder comes in packets that are used to extend the life of flower bouquets. While medical professionals are still learning about the effects of this substance, there has been a link between injecting heroin and skin necrosis.

The most well-known cutting agent is still fentanyl. Fentanyl has been gaining popularity for years and is linked to many overdose situations. When fentanyl is mixed with heroin, the brain’s opioid receptors become overwhelmed. This causes the central nervous system to shut down, stopping breathing and slowing the heart rate. This is when a heroin overdose occurs. Hypoxia refers to the lack of oxygen to the brain, and if left for too long, permanent damage can happen. This is why IV heroin use, when cut with fentanyl, is so dangerous – the effects are felt quickly, and an overdose can happen before you know it.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are one of the top reasons people keep using heroin even when they want to stop. While not typically life-threatening, withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and painful. Some common heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Dilated pupils

Over-the-counter medication can help alleviate some of these symptoms. However, if anxiety, depression, and mood swings become out of control, seeking medical attention can provide help. Intrusive thoughts can feel very real, and medical professionals can provide stabilization when thoughts of self-harm or suicide occur.

Ways to Tell if Someone You Love Is Addicted to Heroin

Besides track marks, there are ways to tell if someone you love is using heroin and crossing into dependence. Some psychological symptoms of heroin use include:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing friend groups
  • Losing interest in hobbies, activities, and relationships
  • Poor work or school performance
  • Increased anxiety or depression

You may begin to notice other physical signs such as chronic illnesses or infections, malnourishment, digestive issues, and itchiness. They may also seem to fall asleep sitting up, which is where the term “heroin nod” comes in. Their body is drifting in and out of consciousness because of the suppression of the central nervous system.

Getting Treatment for Heroin Use Disorder in Florida

Admitting that heroin use has turned into dependence can open the doors to options and a bright future. It can be difficult for you or a loved one to seek treatment, but it does not have to be a scary or overwhelming process. You are a person first, not a disorder, and finding a program that fits your needs and values is crucial to finding successful recovery.

At Clean Recovery Centers, we understand the pull opioids like heroin can have on the mind and body. That is why we address addiction in every aspect: physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. With our unique three-phase approach and evidence-based therapies, we dive into the root causes of addiction for each individual client. The treatment for addiction to heroin program is tailored to your specific needs. Our goal is simple:we want to help you get clean, live clean, and stay clean.

If you or someone you love is living with a heroin use disorder, it’s never too late to make a change. At Clean Recovery Centers, we assess every client on an individual basis to come up with the perfect plan for their treatment course. Our dedicated staff strives to provide a family-like environment for your safety and well-being. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our heroin use disorder program.

FAQs

What are heroin track marks?

Track marks refer to the bruises and needle marks left from injecting heroin.

Where can the heroin track marks be found on the body?

Track marks typically present on the forearms, around the area you would have blood taken. However, some people try to conceal their heroin use and inject it in other places. These can include the upper arms, neck, between the toes, and the groin area.

What do heroin track marks look like?

The appearance of track marks can vary. They can start as small pinpoints with bruising to large, pencil size holes with deterioration. The longer the person injects heroin, the more track marks will become more noticeable.

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