What Happens When Veins Are Damaged?

by | Last updated Sep 8, 2021 | Published on Jul 29, 2021 | Addiction | 0 comments

What Happens When Veins Are Damaged?

Home » Addiction » What Happens When Veins Are Damaged?

The human body has a remarkable ability to heal itself. The skin, liver, and even your brain can bounce back from major damage and injury. Although our regenerative powers are considerable, it does have its limits. Veins, the delicate tissues that circulate blood from the body back to the heart, are one of them. To get a better appreciation for what happens when veins are damaged, take a moment to consider the important role that veins play in your cardiovascular function and the importance of that system in your overall health. 

 

What Are Veins & What Do They Do?

Blood is the body’s ultra-efficient transport system that provides everything organs, tissues, and cells need to live. Its main function is to transport oxygen. This element is essential for cellular respiration, a process that allows cells to metabolize the energy from our food and, simply put, to do their jobs. Without oxygen, our cells—and thus, ourselves—would die. 

However, this is just half of the cardiovascular process. Once all vital nutrients have been deposited, blood also acts as the cleanup crew taking with it waste materials like carbon dioxide. This important function is carried out by veins, blood vessels dedicated to moving oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. There, blood can get a fresh infusion of oxygen and other cellular necessities, and equally importantly, dump the CO2 byproduct. 

The removal of this gas waste is crucial. Otherwise, carbon dioxide buildup (known as hypercapnia), can damage organs and tissues and lead to a number of complications. When veins are damaged, not only does the body become less efficient at this process, but the blood itself that fails to reach the heart ends up pooling in the direction of gravity: down. For this reason, many of the consequences of damaged veins end up involving the legs. 

 

Can Veins Heal Themselves?

The good news is that yes, veins can heal themselves, however, only to a certain degree. When veins are damaged they can take years to repair. Even when this occurs, healed veins never recover completely. At most, a damaged vein will only ever regain a portion of its previous blood-circulating capabilities. 

If vein damage is too extensive your body will abandon that vein altogether and rather than try and salvage the blood vessel it will create a new one by a process called angiogenesis. This is much more common in instances of intravenous drug use, where frequent and improper needle insertion methods are coupled with inadequate tools or sterilization.

Although veins are numerous, if enough of them are damaged, there can be lasting impacts on the individual’s overall health. In addition to the negative impact of impaired blood flow, vein damage can also incur respiratory damage as well. 

 

Types of Vein Damage

The ultimate determinant of whether damaged veins will heal—or not—is the type of damage they’ve incurred. 

Blown veins are one of the most common types of damage. Also known as a ruptured vein, this injury can be relatively harmless resulting in simply bruising or discoloration. However, complications can develop and are much more common with illicit drug use injection. The high acidity of injectable drugs such as meth, heroin, cocaine, prescription stimulants, and prescription opioids can cause decay of tissues near the injection site. 

Sometimes mistaken for a blown vein is a collapsed vein. This is a condition when the vein lining is swollen or collapsed and results in impeded blood flow. Usually, this type of vein damage is temporary. However, continued use can result in more permanent damage.

Scarred veins are the most severe of vein injuries and are always permanent. It is often the result of previous vein damage that resulted in impaired or completely blocked blood flow. These incidences can cause blood clots which, if unresolved, will turn into scar tissue that causes veins to narrow and overall circulation to slow.

 

Side Effects of Vein Damage

The consequences of damaged veins from IV use can result in several conditions ranging from superficial to potentially dangerous and life-threatening: 

  • Swelling of the legs or ankles
  • Leg pain when standing (aching, throbbing, heaviness)
  • Leg cramps
  • Tightness in calves
  • Leg weakness
  • Itchy legs
  • Leathery-looking skin around legs or ankles
  • Leg ulcers
  • Varicose veins
  • Discoloration around the ankles (caused by broken blood vessels)
  • Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots)
  • Vein rupturing
  • Secondary lymphedema
  • Pulmonary embolism

Despite how tiny and numerous they are (there are about 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the body) even one tiny kink in the vital role they play in circulation, can cripple the entire system. When IV drug use is involved, the damage is often permanent and widespread. These consequences are just a few of the complications that can arise from drug addiction. Learn more about the effects of different addictive substances and the long-term impact they can have on your health.

Written by: Tyler Fordham

Written by: Tyler Fordham

Tyler is a writer with dual degrees from the University of South Florida. Having grown up with an alcoholic father, she understands both the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that addiction can affect the family unit. This Miami native has become a champion of mental health and an active believer in the power of positive thinking. When she isn't at the beach, Tyler enjoys running, jigsaw puzzles, and snuggling with her cat, Poof.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Articles

5 Factors That Impact Addiction Recovery Success Rates

There is no standard definition of rehab. Consequently, there is no standardized way to measure the success of addiction treatments. However, this is also common for other chronic conditions. Estimates believe anywhere between 40 to 60 percent of patients who attend...

Is Addiction a Moral Failing or Not?

Beginning with no understanding of addiction, scientists have understood more and more about it over time. In the early 20th century, some doctors believed that people with addictions were morally weak and needed to learn self-control—they lacked the willpower...

5 Reasons Why Drugs Are a Problem in Society

Almost 92,000 people in the United States died from a drug-involved overdose in 2020. Accidental drug overdose is one of the leading causes of death among people under 45. Synthetic opioids, psychostimulants, cocaine, and prescription opioids were the most common...

Follow Us

24/7 Help for Drug & Alcohol Use

If you or someone you love is suffering from the addiction, there is no reason to delay. Start working on a solution today. Our phones are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our staff are trained to deal with drug and alcohol problems of any kind, and will recommend the right treatment for you based on your situation. Call now!

(888) 447-7724

Related Articles

5 Factors That Impact Addiction Recovery Success Rates
5 Factors That Impact Addiction Recovery Success Rates

There is no standard definition of rehab. Consequently, there is no standardized way to measure the success of addiction treatments. However, this is also common for other chronic conditions. Estimates believe anywhere between 40 to 60 percent of patients who attend...

read more
Is Addiction a Moral Failing or Not?
Is Addiction a Moral Failing or Not?

Beginning with no understanding of addiction, scientists have understood more and more about it over time. In the early 20th century, some doctors believed that people with addictions were morally weak and needed to learn self-control—they lacked the willpower...

read more
5 Reasons Why Drugs Are a Problem in Society
5 Reasons Why Drugs Are a Problem in Society

Almost 92,000 people in the United States died from a drug-involved overdose in 2020. Accidental drug overdose is one of the leading causes of death among people under 45. Synthetic opioids, psychostimulants, cocaine, and prescription opioids were the most common...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Amethyst Recovery Center