We were recently asked about this during a debate and we thought we’d share this with you as a blog post so that you can have your say too! If you’ve never heard of PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) lines or VAD’s (venous access devices) then you’re not alone.
They’re most commonly used by those who need longer term IV treatment for things such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, and even to take regular blood samples without needing to hunt for a new vein each time a test is due. This also allows patients to spend less time in hospital when their treatment can be done from home. However this then poses the risk that addicts who administer their substances via IV will be tempted to use these devices to quickly get their hit each time they want to use.
But should patients who have known IV addictions be offered a PICC line or similar in order to reduce their risks of infections, blood clots, scarring, circulatory damage and impairment, injecting into arteries or damaging nerves in the surrounding structures, or should these types of device be avoided in order to reduce the temptation the other associated risks of having a VAD in place for any length of time? This is the topic of todays blog post!…
Remember you can join in and continue this conversation, along with others as well as see our other blog posts on our social media pages. Links can be found by clicking here!…
What Are PICC Lines & VAD’s?
A PICC line is a narrow tube that is put into a vein in the arm, usually in the elbow area. It’s similar to a cannula you may have had inserted if you’ve ever been in hospital and had blood or medication administered intravenously. PICCs allow medicines and antibiotics to be given directly into the venous bloodstream. The tip will lie in a big vein, just near the opening of your heart. The PICC can stay in place for weeks to months, depending on your treatment requirements and can be removed and a new PICC line inserted into a different vein once the current one has been in place for its designated amount of time.
- Reduction in damage to vein walls, nerves and other surrounding structures.
- Elimination of risk of “hit” misses and blown veins, especially with chronic users who have bad/damaged veins already.
- No longer needing to use needle exchange programs as syringes and dressings are given by the PICC provider. Also reduces the cost of incinerating and disposing of used injecting equipment.
- Reduces the risk of sharing injecting equipment.
- Provides quick, easy access.
- Reduces time and money spent in hospitals, or with doctors and nurses in GP practices to treat injecting site infections and chronic wound ulcers.
- Quick and easy to install by trained, experienced healthcare professionals.
- Can be used to inject medications in an emergency such as an overdose where naloxone may be required, as well as quick and easy blood taking for tests/monitoring for drug tests, medical tests and health condition diagnosis.
- Costs approximately £233.09 ($286.00) per PICC line which could last up to 6 months, compared to an annual cost per patient who use a needle exchange program of between £570.00-£1,630.00 ($700-$2000) depending on their usage, equipment used and the supplementary costs associated with running the program.
- Same risks of blood clots and infections as conventional injecting practices.
- May need expensive equipment to find and verify correct placement.
- Can slip out naturally, get caught on clothing, or be pulled out accidentally.
- May enhance the risk of the person’s substance use increasing because it’s so quick and easy to use in order to take their substance(s).
- Requires trained, expensive healthcare professionals to install, maintain and remove them.
- May increase the risk of overdose or increasing amount/dosage toleration.
- The person may have an allergic reaction to the sticky dressings or materials the PICC line is made from.
- Increased risk of blood-borne infections due to having the PICC line in place 24/7.
- Risk of blockages or clot formation in the PICC line.
What The Research Says
Research in this area, like many others in addiction studies is severely lacking to say the least! However we found 3 research articles that may be relevant to this discussion.
Research 1 – Oxford Academic
Research 2 – Science Direct
Research 3 – Harm Reduction Journal
Other External Debate/Case Study
Questions We Need To Ask Ourselves
We need to be honest with ourselves, addicts will use, even with the criminal sanctions that most governments around the world currently impose on addicts, and also still knowing the negative consequences that active substance use has on their physical/mental health and their world around them. The fact that addiction, overdose and death rates are continuing to grow yearly is evidence that most (though not all!) of what we currently do, just isn’t working. We all need to think creatively about how we manage addiction and the routes we have to access recovery.
We Want To Know What You Think!
Could this be another possible tool in our recovery toolbox by reducing the risk of infections, ulcers and unnecessary stays in hospitals? Or are the risks just too great by promoting further substance use? Comment below this blog post or join us on social media to share your views and see what others think too!…
Want More Like This!?…
- ING Activities In Addiction RecoveryING activities are any task, activity or hobby that ends in ing, for example running, cycling, painting, walking, exercising, travelling, flying and others. They’re vital in addiction recovery if we’re going to gain the most from our recovery efforts and put us on a healthy, positive road that’s sustainable, but just as importantly, ENJOYABLE!
- Suicide: One Of Addiction’s Many Associated RisksIf you’ve ever considered suicide, you may be able to understand what it feels like to find yourself feeling depressed and helpless and are desperate for relief, unfortunately this is when suicide becomes an appealing option to get that relief. Similarly, if you’ve lost someone to suicide, you understand the anguish and confusion people experience when a loved one takes their own life. Unfortunately when drug or alcohol addiction become involved as well, the whole situation becomes more complicated and will require professional help to overcome these horrible, unbearable and crippling symptoms that those who experience suicidal thoughts often feel.
- The Scale Of The Alcohol Problem In The UKStatistics like this show the real scale of the problem the UK faces when it comes to alcohol abuse and addiction.
- Substance Use In HouseholdsGrowing up in a household where parents or siblings use, abuse, misuse or are addicted to drugs or alcohol means an increased risk of our children also developing a drug and alcohol addiction in the future. The only way to break this cycle is to seek help today from our sister site Thinking Therapies orContinue reading “Substance Use In Households”
- Should IV Illicit Drug Users Be Offered PICC Lines Or Venous Access DevicesShould patients who have known IV addictions be offered a PICC line or similar in order to reduce their risks of infections, blood clots, scarring, circulatory damage/ impairment, injecting into arteries or damaging nerves in the surrounding structures, or should these types of device be avoided in order to reduce the temptation the other associated risks of having a VAD in place for any length of time? This is the topic of todays blog post and we want to know what you think!
- How To Help Addicts Stay Safe During This Unprecedented Heatwave And Our Top Hot Weather Life Hacks!Most of us welcome some warm, sunny weather, it can be nice to enjoy the sunshine and science even provides us with evidence that it can improve our mood, energy levels, motivation to make and maintain change, as well as improving our physical bodily functions as well as our general mental well-being. However, when it’s too hot for too long, there are serious possible health risks that we need to keep in mind. In England alone, there are on average 2000 heat related deaths every single year, and that’s not even taking into consideration the current unprecedented level 3 heatwave we’re all experiencing! Keep reading to find out how you can stay safe in this weather, how it can negatively impact those with active substance addictions (both drugs and alcohol) and those in recovery, what to watch out for, how you can help yourself and others, and finally but by no means least, our top tips and heatwave heat hacks to keep you cool and comfortable.
One thought on “Should IV Illicit Drug Users Be Offered PICC Lines Or Venous Access Devices”