Heroin Addiction Pearls

Clinical CornerAt Internal Medicine Report involving a case of potential infection and heroin addiction, one of the infection vectors brought up was – did the person reuse needles?  For a lot of practitioners that probably seems like a pretty obvious question but one of the Hospitalists brought up a couple of other transmission vectors for practitioners to consider when looking for potential infection sources when dealing with needle administered drug addictions.  Here’s 3 things to think about when working with potential infection and a needle drug addiction:

  • Does the person reuse needles?
  • Does the person lick the needle before injection?
  • Has the person put the needle plunger in their ear?

The hospitalist conveyed that a wide held belief among injection drug users is that licking the needle will make the tip sharper and therefore ease the insertion.  You can easily see that if this is their practice, injection drug users are opening themselves up to any number of contaminates from the mouth and saliva.

Did they stick the plunger where?  Apparently as needle plungers become less effective, addicts may use ear wax to create a tighter seal to prolong the use of the needle which introduces another transmission vector for infections or pathogens.

If you know of other journal articles,  pearls or questions like this or have anything else to add, please comment below or send me the information to update this posting – John.Jones@ucdenver.edu.

Here’s some articles that may be of interest: