Treatment Of Intravenous Drug Use

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Intravenous drug use is a dangerous, yet increasing activity around the world. Persons who inject themselves with illicit drugs are at risk for several complications such as infection caused by contaminated needles. These infections can be serious and often lead to hospitalization as well as other health-related complications. A situation that often arises is determining the best type of treatment for IV drug users who are being discharged from the hospital. Physicians and pharmacists are commonly faced with choosing outpatient IV antibiotic therapy versus oral antibiotics when treating infections caused by IV drug use. This presents an ethical dilemma, particularly concerning the ethical principles of beneficence and
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Unfortunately, the trend in intravenous drug use has increased in recent years. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that of individuals aged 12 or older in America, current users of cocaine and heroin were approximately 1.5 million and 289,000 respectively (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014). As the number of intravenous drug users continues to rise, so does the risk of dangerous and potentially fatal complications that are associated with illicit drug use. In this population, death rates are higher due to overdose, AIDs-related mortality, and other blood-borne viruses (Mathers et al., 2013). Mortality rates remain high even though precautions have been taken to reduce them. According to Lavender & McCarron (2013), “Mortality in injecting drug users is up to 22 times higher than for the age-adjusted population, despite increased provision of needle and syringe programs, reduced needle and syringe sharing, and higher uptake of hepatitis B vaccination” (p. 511).
In addition to higher rates of mortality, intravenous drug users are at increased risk of infection. Mertz, et al. (2008) stated, “Malnutrition, immunodeficiency, homelessness, and needle-sharing contribute to a high infection rate in these patients” (p. 2). Common infections range from simple cutaneous abscesses and cellulitis to more serious infections such as
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