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Telltale Signs of a Person Shooting Up Drugs

Telltale Signs of a Person Shooting Up Drugs

Drug abuse can take many forms. Along with popping pills or smoking, many regular drug users will utilize intravenous injection because shooting up drugs can lead to a faster high.

While several drugs can be injected, heroin is the most common culprit. Although this can be euphoric for the user, as a heroin treatment center, we know firsthand that it is also extremely dangerous for several reasons including an increased risk of overdose.

How to Tell if Someone is Shooting Up Drugs

Having a loved one who could be using drugs at all is scary, but if you suspect they are injecting them, this can be especially alarming. Because of the nature of this route of administration, many people who use this approach are more experienced drug users or using harder drugs. These drugs can be more dangerous and lead to more serious consequences, but if you are able to recognize the telltale signs of a person shooting up drugs, you may be able to help them before it is too late.

Needle & Paraphernalia

A dead giveaway sign of IV drug use is if they have needles and other intravenous drug paraphernalia. Look for spoons, bottlecaps, a lighter, and a makeshift tourniquet. These items are all used regularly when injecting drugs but will likely be hidden. You may also want to check the trash for discarded signs of this paraphernalia.

Track Marks

One of the most noticeable physical signs of shooting up are needle track marks. Track marks are areas of the skin that become discolored or irritated from repeated injections. They may look like black and blue marks or red bumps and scars. If you notice track marks on your loved one, get them into an inpatient or outpatient program immediately because this is not their first time using.

Modest Clothing

A good sign someone is shooting up drugs could be a sudden change in their fashion. Not only do addicts tend to care less about how they look resulting in stained or worn clothing choices, but because track marks are so common among regular IV drug users, many will wear more modest clothing to cover them up. While many intravenous drug users will start with injections in their arm, drugs can be injected in various parts of the body including the legs, neck, hands, and feet. If someone you care about is covered head to toe even on the hottest days, they may be hiding something.


Along with the risks associated with drug abuse, there are many dangers of shooting up that can be noticeable. Skin infections are a common sign of intravenous drug use. If you notice scarring or swelling of the skin at possible injection sites and your loved one isn’t feeling well, it could be the sign of a serious skin infection. Get them medical attention first, then talk to them about their drug problem.

Other Signs of Abuse

Even if they are not displaying any signs of a person shooting up drugs, your loved one could still be abusing drugs. Regardless of how they are administering it, someone on drugs will usually exhibit various indicators of abuse including:
  • Mood swings
  • Weight changes
  • Strange sleep habits
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Decline in personal hygiene and physical appearance
  • Financial problems
  • Changes in energy levels
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Withdrawal
  • Risky behavior
  • Lying or increased need for privacy

If someone you care about is showing signs and symptoms of IV drug use or any drug abuse at all, get help. Our rehab in Langhorne, PA works with people with various substance abuse problems and helps them not only regain control but also start over.

If someone you care about needs help for an addiction, reach out to us today at 888-280-4763. At Banyan Philadelphia, we strive to help patients find long-term sobriety.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.