How Heroin Addiction Staph Infections Are Contracted and Treated

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heroin addiction staph infections

We humans are covered in microscopic bacteria. This is a normal feature of our being, with both good and bad bacteria present at all times and covering our skin. Surprisingly, only about 1% of all bacteria will make humans sick. Staph Aureus is one of them.

For individuals who are active heroin addicts and choosing to administer the drug intravenously, the prick of the needle can quickly introduce bacteria that were residing on the skin into the bloodstream and bodily tissues. Some of the more common types of bacterial infections in IV drug users are heroin addiction staph infections, a potentially serious medical condition when not properly treated.

What is a Staph Infection?

Staph infections originate with the staphylococcus bacteria, a common bacteria found on the skin or inside the nose of all people. These bacteria are usually innocuous, causing no serious problems to humans. They become problematic, even dangerous, when the bacteria invade body tissue, ending up in the bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs, or heart. Serious and even life-threatening conditions can result from heroin addiction staph infections, such as sepsis, or blood poisoning, or toxic shock syndrome.

Staph bacteria can also cause skin infections, such as boils, cellulitis, or impetigo. An antibiotic-resistant strain of staph bacteria, called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, can result in serious systemic infection.

What are the Symptoms of Heroin Addiction Staph Infections?

Symptoms of a staph infection will depend on the way it has manifested itself:

  • Skin infection. Usually involves a painful rash, skin redness, sores or ulcers, and discharge of pus.
  • Septicemia. Also referred to as blood poisoning or sepsis, the signs include fever, low blood pressure, infections in internal organs, bones, or muscle.
  • Toxic shock syndrome. High fever, nausea and vomiting, rash, confusion, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and muscle aches.

How to Treat a Staph Infection

The primary means of treating a staph infection is through antibiotic therapy. Based on the type of staph bacteria involved, the doctor will select an appropriate type of antibiotic. These types of antibiotics include cephalosporins, nafcillin, sulfa drugs, or vancomysin. Vancomysin is the drug of choice for drug-resistant types of staph infections such as MRSA, and is administered through an IV.

If it is a skin infection caused by staph bacteria, the doctor may have to drain the sores by making an incision. Heroin users often get this type of staph infection, which begin as a red bump or pimple. The infected area will appear swollen and red, and be painful to the touch. An incision is made and the pus is drained from the ulcerated infected skin.

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Other Infections Associated With Heroin Use

Staph infections are not the only bacterial infections that are common to IV drug users. Other types of infections include:

  • Tetanus
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Botulism
  • Septic thrombophlebitis
  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Abscesses
  • Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating bacteria

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

In addition to the risk for heroin addiction staph infections or other types of bacterial infections, there are many other negative effects on the individual’s physical health. Heroin addicts may develop collapsed veins that contribute to infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, tuberculosis, dental problems, infertility, kidney disease, a weakened immune system, liver disease, respiratory illnesses, impotence, cognitive difficulties, and chronic insomnia.

When someone with a heroin addiction desires help to overcome this serious drug addiction they should enter a residential addiction treatment program. Outpatient services are not comprehensive enough to successfully treat heroin addiction. In the residential rehab, the individual will live in the provided housing for an extended period, usually a minimum of two months, where they will receive 24-hour support.

Heroin addiction treatment begins with a medical detox process during which the residual drug and toxins are eliminated from the body over a period of 5-7 days, allowing the individual to stabilize and become more clear-headed for entering treatment.

In treatment, the individual will participate in several daily therapies, classes, and activities that form an integrated approach to helping them change dysfunctional behavior patterns, to acquire important recovery skills, and explore any psychological or emotional issues that may be contributing factors. Medication-assisted treatment, such as the use of naltrexone or Suboxone, can help reduce drug cravings and sustain recovery.

Solutions 4 Recovery Provides Comprehensive Heroin Addiction Treatment

Solutions 4 Recovery is an elite addiction and dual diagnosis treatment center in Southern California that specializes in opiate recovery. Situated in a beautiful South Orange County community, Solutions 4 Recovery is recognized for its highly individualized approach to addiction treatment. Guided by a dedication to creating a unique recovery plan for each individual client, the clinical staff at Solutions 4 Recovery understands that treatment elements must be both relevant and aligned with the person seeking help. For more information about the program, please contact Solutions 4 Recovery today at (888) 417-1874.