Once a person has developed a severe addiction to drugs, all methods of getting high become acceptable. For people that crush pills so they can then inject them, they are not only suffering from a Substance Use Disorder, but they are on a destructive course that could easily result in death. The type of SUD’s that cause a person to desire crushing pills to get high include opioid addiction to prescription pain killers (OxyContin, Dilaudid, Vicodin, etc.), benzodiazepine addiction, (Xanax, Valium, etc.), or amphetamine addiction (Adderall, Ritalin, Phentermine, etc.). The addiction most likely to crush and inject pills is opioid addiction. It is common knowledge and practices among drug-using cultures to snort or inject opiate containing pills to increase the effects. Most medical doctors are aware of how addictive prescription pain killers are and monitor their patient’s intake carefully. If a person does become addicted to prescription pain medication, their doctor or anyone else will not be able to provide the person enough to sustain their addiction. Addiction to prescription pain killers or other pills will eventually lead the individual to seek out where to buy pills on the street. Drug dealers who sell opiate pills take advantage of the situation and charge $10, $20, $30, and $40 a tablet depending on the type and strength. Some OxyContin pills can be sold for $80.00 a single pill. In any addiction that causes a person to crush pills to be injected, they are risking their lives every time they do it.
Dangers of Crushing and Injecting Pills
It is extremely dangerous to inject crushed pills. One of the most obvious dangers is the presence of bacteria that will enter the heart, brain, and lungs. Injecting crushed pills requires that the pills be crushed on a surface with an object, then scooped into either a spoon or small container that holds water. The process is very unclean. It is doubtful that a person will take the time to sterilize or clean all the tools necessary to dilute and inject the pills. Each pill will also contain non-soluble particles from coatings on the pills that can cause heart attacks or embolisms and other life-threatening medical emergencies to occur. Aside from not being sterile, the ingredients in any pill that is meant to be swallowed are not intended to enter the blood, heart, or brain directly. Oral pill medications require that the enzymes and other stomach and digestion actions be performed to break down certain ingredients to become safe to enter the blood. Bypassing the necessary stomach and digestion processes from crushing and injecting pills puts the person in grave danger. The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health published an article about the dangers of injecting morphine pills. In their explanation of their research, they list numerous ingredients in prescription pain pills that can cause an emergency and lead to death.
It is common for many injecting drug users to prepare injections from tablets that are designed for oral administration. Tablets contain therapeutically inactive ingredients to facilitate the lubrication, disintegration, and dissolution of the dosage form. These ingredients include talc, cornstarch, cellulose, magnesium stearate, and waxes, which are not water-soluble and not meant to enter the bloodstream. After injection into any blood vessel, particles will move downstream until they encounter a vessel too small to pass, where they lodge, forming an embolism, pulmonary granulomas, pulmonary edemas, emphysema, and pulmonary fibrosis and hypertension. (NCBI)
Crushing pills to increase the effects to be injected or snorted is a serious indication that an individual is struggling with addiction. Other complications that occur from crushing pills and to be injected include:
- Abscesses at the injection site
- Sepsis (toxins in the blood)
- Exposure to HIV, hepatitis C
- Fatal allergic reactions to the ingredients
- Accidental overdose
Treatment for Prescription Pill Addiction
The best course of action for any person who is injecting drugs is to ask for professional help and get treatment for their addiction. The program that is available at Evoke Wellness at Miramar is substance-specific and targets the behaviors and challenges that addiction to prescription pills creates. With assistance from our prescription pill detox, our patients are able to safely recover and begin the process of lasting sobriety.