Miscellaneous Complications

Blood-vessel changes caused by necrotizing angiitis (polyarteritis—the inflammation of a number of arteries) or a swelling that leads to tissue loss have been demonstrated in intravenous amphetamine abusers, resulting in cerebrovascular occlusion (blockage in brain blood vessels) and intracra-nial hemorrhage or stroke.

Problems in the lungs often develop from inert materials that are included as cutting agents or as buffers and binding agents in drugs that come in pill form but are liquified and injected. These substances do not dissolve, so their particles may become lodged in the lungs, causing chronic pulmonary fibrosis and foreign-body granulomas. These same buffers and binding agents may as well become lodged in various capillary systems, including the tiny blood vessels in the eye.

Finally, injection-induced infections reaching the skeleton can be responsible for such bone diseases as septic arthritides and osteomyelitis. Gan grene can develop from cutting off circulation to the extremities and may necessitate amputation or be fatal.

(SEE ALSO: Inhalant Abuse and Its Dangers; Needle and Syringe Exchange and HIV/AIDS)


Cohen, S., & Gallant, D. M. (1981). Diagnosis of drug and alcohol abuse. Brooklyn: Career Teacher Center, State University of New York. Senay, E. C., & RAYNES, A. E. (1977). Treatment of the drug abusing patient for treatment staff physicians. Arlington, VA: National Drug Abuse Center. SEYMOUR, R. B., & SMITH, D. E. (1990). Identifying and responding to drug abuse in the workplace. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 22 (4), 383-406. SEYMOUR, R. B., & SMITH, D. E. (1987). The physician's guide to psychoactive drugs. New York: Hayworth. Wilford, B. B. (1981). Drug abuse: A guide for the primary care physician. Chicago: American Medical Association.

David E. Smith Richard B. Seymour Revised by Ralph Myerson

COMPULSIONS A compulsion is a persistent, irresistible impulse to perform a repetitive, irrational behavior or mental act. Common behavioral compulsions include hand-washing, cleaning, checking, ordering, and touching. Common mental act compulsions include counting, praying, and repeating words silently. Compulsive acts may need to be performed to exacting specifications. The goal of compulsive behaviors or mental acts is to prevent or reduce anxiety. There is no pleasure or gratification derived from performing the compulsive behavior or mental act. Often, the person feels compelled to perform the compulsive act in order to reduce the anxiety associated with an obsessive thought. Alternatively, compulsive acts are performed as a way to prevent a feared event or situation. Compulsions are excessive (e.g. washing the hands until the skin is raw in order to relieve obsessive fears of contamination) or they are unrelated to the obsessive thought they were designed to negate or prevent.


American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

SADOCK, B. J., & SADOCK, V. A. (2000). Kaplan & Sadock's comprehensive textbook of psychiatry. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Belinda Rowland

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