Pathophysiologic Changes Occurring in Substance Abuse

Drug abusers frequently exhibit pathophysiologic changes that require treatment along with the patient's drug addition. These debilitating changes are malnutrition, dehydration, and hypovitaminosis.

In addition, these patients can experience respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, blood clots (pulmonary emboli), and abscesses.

In addition, drug abusers rarely use aseptic techniques for administering drugs intravenously which can lead to localized and systemic infections such as endocarditis (infection of the lining of the heart), HIV, and sepsis (infection of the entire circulatory system). Drug abusers also incur cellulitis (infection in the tissues), sclerosis (scaring of the veins), phlebitis (irritation of veins), and skin abscesses.

Drug abusers are always at risk of overdosing because the active ingredient in illegal drugs are frequently adulterated with dangerous substances such as amphetamines, benzodiazepines, hallucinogens, and alcohol. This makes the potency of the drug unreliable and the risk of death from an accidental overdose is high.

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