5 Signs Someone Is Shooting Up: Signs of Heroin Use

What Does Shooting Up Mean?

There are various methods that substance abusers will engage in to enter drugs into their bodies. Each drug comes in various formats that can be administered or taken in several methods. Whether someone is abusing prescription drugs or illicit street drugs, there are a variety of methods that substance abusers will engage in drug abuse including ingesting the substance, snorting a crushed powder format of the substance, smoking the substance, or injecting the substance otherwise known as shooting up.


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Shooting up drugs is when individuals will inject drugs directly into their bloodline. This method of drug abuse will create a fast-acting high that is often short-lived. Due to the intensity of the high and the brief length of time that it lasts, it becomes highly addictive quickly as substance abusers desperately seek to reach the same intensity of high each time while developing a tolerance to their substance of choice. Although there are risks associated with any substance abuse, shooting up drugs increases the risks of experiencing health complications and infections due to the invasive nature of administering this drug. Prolonged use of drugs through injection can lead to long-term side effects and health complications that are difficult to manage if you attempt to quit drugs on your own. Having the support of an addiction treatment program will support you in safely and effectively overcoming an addiction to drugs while maintaining your physical and psychological health with the ongoing support and supervision of licensed healthcare professionals and addiction therapists.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at (877) 640-7820 to learn how we can help.

What Drugs Do People Shoot Up?

Drugs come in many forms and many substances can be injected. To prepare drugs to be ready to become injectable, they need to be able to be taken from a solid format into a liquid base that would be able to be drawn into a syringe to inject. The most commonly injected substances are meth, cocaine, and heroin.

Abusing meth will create a heightened level of dopamine within the brain creating a higher sense of pleasure and enjoyment. When you engage in meth abuse through shooting up, it increases the intensity of the high that individuals will experience and strengthens the drug’s power. Typically individuals abusing meth will begin their substance abuse by snorting or smoking it. However, as substance abuse progresses with meth, individuals will quickly develop a tolerance to meth. As a person’s tolerance continues to increase, the larger the quantity of the substance you will need to take to reach the desired effect. Due to the quick-acting high that is produced from shooting up, many who have developed a tolerance will turn to shooting up to maintain the levels of high that they are seeking.

The most commonly abused drug through the shooting-up method is heroin. Most heroin abusers will take this substance through an injection method. While some may begin their heroin use by smoking it, the dependence that is created quickly from smoking heroin will lead individuals to shooting up to reach the level of intensity that they are seeking. Injecting heroin is known to have quick-acting results that last for a short duration of time leading many to continue to abuse heroin in an attempt to feel the same intensity of high that they felt on the very first high. However, substance abusers report that they can never reach the desired effect they once felt during their first use, which has led them down a cycle of abuse and drug addiction.

signs someone is shooting up5 Signs Someone is Shooting Up

If you are concerned that someone you care about is engaging in substance abuse intravenously, there are certain signs and indicators to be aware of that can help you recognize if a loved one is engaging in intravenous drug abuse. If you see some of the following signs and indicators appearing within a loved one or individual, it may be time to speak with them about their substance abuse and offer support in seeking help through an addiction treatment program:

  1. Emotional highs and lows— A common first indicator of someone engaging in intravenous drug use is an inability to regulate emotions. This is because IV drug use will cause a person to feel the instantaneous effects of drug abuse leading to an increase in overall good moods or feelings of elation. As the effects of the substance wear off, individuals will begin to crash leading to feelings of low and depressive moods. The ups and downs of emotions will continue as the cycle of addiction progresses. Other signs that indicate that a person is experiencing a low or crash from drugs can include trouble concentrating, nodding off, falling asleep in abnormal places or positions, irritability, and trouble making decisions
  2. Markings or bruising where the injection site is— Engaging in regular IV drug use will result in individuals having visible bruising or marks such as track marks that will appear to be dark veins where the person has regularly injected drugs. These markings will get progressively worse the longer that someone injects drugs in the same location.
  3. Different locations for injection sites due to collapsed veins— The longer someone engages in IV drug abuse, the more the risk of collapsed veins makes someone unable to inject drugs in the same location. Most people will begin their IV drug use within their arms but then move to other areas of the body such as toes, feet, or hands to continue with IV drug abuse.
  4. Skin infections— As you regularly shoot up drugs within the same injection site, it causes the skin and veins to become damaged. If clothing continues to rub against the injection spot, it increases the risk of developing a skin infection.
  5. Soot tattoos— This is characterized by discoloration beneath the skin on the injection site. This is due to substance abusers heating up the needle before injecting the drugs resulting in the soot from the burning of the needle getting underneath the injection site and becoming darker over time.

Learn tips on the ways parents can prevent drug abuse here:

Five Ways Parents Can Prevent Drug Abuse


Call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab Today for Help If You Think Someone Is Shooting Up

If you are concerned about a loved one who may be shooting up and wants to provide them with the appropriate resources and options for addiction treatment, there is help available within our addiction treatment center. Through our comprehensive treatment programs, patients are provided a continuum of care that will allow them to safely detox from drugs, engage in drug rehab programming, and develop a strong foundation for living in addiction recovery with the necessary tools for relapse prevention. Each patient is offered an individualized treatment plan that is centered around the unique goals for addiction recovery and healing needs with the support of evidence-based therapy methods. Our expert team of medical professionals will monitor the safety of each patient as they undergo drug detox and will provide appropriate medical treatments to support patients, treat any damage caused by IV drug use and allow you to move forward in your healing journey. We are waiting for your call to support you in getting your loved one the help they need to begin their recovery journey.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.