Street Drugs

The complications described in the preceding sections are most commonly associated with pure, unadulterated opioids. When street drugs are used, which are typically diluted by the seller with quinine, lactose, or other powdered materials—and injected by the user in an unhygienic manner, in doses that vary significantly—the range of complications widens. These are described fully in the entry on neurological complications, but among the complications of heroin use reported in the medical literature are strokes, inflammation of cerebral (brain) blood vessels, toxic amblyopia, bacterial meningitis, aneurysms and brain abscesses, disorders of peripheral nerves, impairment of segments of the spinal cord, and widespread injury to muscle tissue (rhabdomyolysis)—which by releasing muscle protein can denote damage to the kidneys.

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