A series of images posted to Reddit four years ago, but which recently resurfaced, show the horrific reality of drug abuse: the images show X-rays that reveal numerous needles that have broken off in a patient’s neck after the person dozed off while shooting up. According to UBM Patient Care, this occurrence is fairly common, and occurs in up to 20 percent of people who abuse drugs intravenously.

According to the original post, which appeared on Reddit in December 2015, the X-rays are of a patient who came to the hospital for a serious case of pneumonia. After the patient was examined, X-ray images showed a number of broken needles that had become embedded in the patient's neck after years of heroin misuse. According to the Reddit user, the patient got the needle lodged in their neck after falling asleep following intravenously injecting their drug.

Read: Heroin Vs. Prescription Opioids: What You Need To Know About Drugs' Similar Effects And Risks

When it comes to heroin use, most people think the drug is injected in veins in the arms. However, many years of drug abuse can cause these veins to collapse due to repeated trauma at the injection site. A collapsed vein is extremely common in drug addicts who use their drugs intravenously. After injecting into the same vein for an extended period of time, the inside lining of the vein becomes damaged, and eventually a blood clot develops. What’s more, if vein abuse continues, the clots block the vein completely. In this case, the sides of the veins heal together and the vein collapses completely. At this point, the vein can never be used again and users are forced to inject into a new vein. The most common signs of a collapsed vein may be cold hands and feet due to lost circulation, pain and itching at the site of the injection, and skin discoloration, Rehabs.com reported.

These needles can cause dangerous internal bleeding. Photo Courtesy of Reddit

Over the course of many years, users can collapse the veins in their arms, legs, chest, and abdomen before moving on to the veins in their neck.

According to the UBM Patient Care article, complications from broken needles left inside the body include abscess formation, laceration of a major artery, and lethal internal bleeding. In addition, the report pointed out that doctors should be extra careful when examining patients with a history of drug use as they may have broken needles buried beneath their skin.

Broken needles in the body are just one of many serious possible side effects of heroin abuse. For example, heroin abuse can also increase risk of contracting certain infections spread through bodily fluids, such as HIV and hepatitis, due to needle sharing, Drug Abuse.com reported. Heroin abuse can also lead to mental health issues such as depression and personality changes, as well as a high risk of death from overdose.

That tickle in his throat

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