Track Marks: What to Do if You Spot This Sign of Addiction

Track marks

If you have noticed that your loved one has track marks or any other signs of addiction, you might feel overwhelmed, frightened, and unsure of where to start when it comes to getting them help. This guide will help you learn more about how to identify track marks, the dangers that they pose, and how the right type of treatment can help.

What Are Track Marks?

What Are Track Marks

Track marks is a term that’s used to describe small scars that may line the insides of a person’s arms. Track marks are one of the telltale signs of drug addiction. Specifically, track marks usually indicate that someone is using intravenous (IV) drugs. This would include drugs like heroin.

As somebody first begins to use IV drugs, the track marks on their arms may look more like fresh wounds or like scabs at the injection site. What this shows is that the skin still has time to heal when the person is not using drugs. It’s often the first clue into the beginning of an addiction.

After some time, track marks become scars. These can look like lightish colored spots. In many cases, these marks can be found on the person’s non-dominant arm, as they will use their dominant hand to inject the drug into their veins.


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Wearing long sleeves at strange times, like when it’s warm out, can be a sign that somebody is trying to hide their track marks. Other signs of drug abuse could look like:

  • Mood swings
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Going through withdrawal when not using
  • Worsened mental health symptoms

What Are the Risks Behind Track Marks?

There are many different risks associated with someone having track marks. To begin, someone who has track marks, especially fresh wounds, often has an addiction. This type of addiction is particularly dangerous and has resulted in approximately 150,000 deaths in the United States.

IV drugs pose a deadly threat. Many times, the drugs that people buy to inject, such as heroin, are mixed with other drugs. Fentanyl-laced drugs are becoming more and more common—often without users’ knowledge. The high that comes from this is much more intense, addictive, and dangerous.

Not only do track marks indicate a drug addiction, but using IV drugs comes with other serious risks as well, including:

  • Infection
  • Collapsed veins
  • Blood diseases
  • Blood clots

This is why it’s so important to get treatment for addictions that result in track marks. There can be serious health consequences that come from an untreated substance use disorder. Moreover, having a substance use disorder can negatively impact one’s ability to work, do hobbies, and build healthy relationships with loved ones. So, if someone you care about has track marks, the next step is to look into treatment.

How Does Treatment for Drug Addiction Help?

How Does Treatment for Drug Addiction Help

Getting professional treatment for a drug addiction is the best way to ensure that your loved one can recover safely and effectively. Usually, treatment for heroin addiction or other IV drug use begins with safe, supervised detox.

Now, detox should always be done at an accredited detox facility. People who detox at home on their own are more likely to face serious health concerns such as seizures, vomiting, and even heart failure. Additionally, people who do not go to a center to detox often relapse because they are not getting the care that they need to actually treat the addiction.

If you are talking to your loved one about getting help for their track marks and the addiction that comes with them, be sure to let them know that detoxing safely is possible with the right care. After their physical health is secured through safe and monitored detox, they can begin to work on the emotional and mental aspects of recovery.

Many times, people are unable to recover fully from a drug addiction because they are not addressing the underlying mental health conditions that lead to using drugs in the first place. After all, having unmanaged anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders can cause a lot of distress. This is especially true for vulnerable populations, such as veterans. This can make people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope or temporarily numb the pain because they aren’t sure what else to do.

However, this only makes the mental health symptoms worse in the long run. Thus, when on the path toward recovery, participating in a dual diagnosis program for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders can be much more beneficial than just a typical recovery program. This program is helpful for people who have track marks, signs of addiction, and also struggle with one or more of the following:

In dual diagnosis treatment, your loved one will have the opportunity to heal through intensive and effective therapies. These therapies include:

  • Integrated group therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Recreational therapy
  • Relapse prevention
  • Discharge planning

Furthermore, at the right treatment facilities, recovery also includes family therapy and relationship building. This means that you will have the chance to work with your loved one throughout their recovery journey to learn more about addiction as well as everything you can do to support your loved one after their time at the facility.

If you have spotted track marks or any of the other signs of addiction on your loved one, you may consider having a conversation with them about how treatment can help. Giving them all of this information takes some of the pressure off of them to take the next steps that are needed for recovery. Rather than worrying about what to do, they can move forward with getting in touch with the right treatment facility to begin recovery right away.

Get Help for Track Marks and Other Signs of Addiction

Georgetown Behavioral Hospital offers all of the services above and so much more. We’re here to give you all the information you and your loved one need to make the decision to join a recovery program. If you’re concerned about track marks or other signs of addiction in someone you love, don’t wait—reach out to us at 937-483-4930 or submit a confidential contact form with your worries. From there, it only gets easier with each step toward long-lasting recovery.

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