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Addiction Wound Care in Nashville

It is no secret that drug addiction causes serious problems with your overall health and even damages organs. It may surprise people to learn the area of the body most prone to damage from drug use is the skin. The skin is the body’s largest organ and often the first place that addiction-related injuries appear. Thus, making it important to get quick medical attention for any addiction-related wounds. Brentwood Springs Detox offers comprehensive addiction wound care in Nashville, TN tailored to meet the unique needs of each client.

Most Common Addiction Wounds

An estimated one-third of those addicted to substances develop drug-related wounds each year. These wounds can result from the type of drugs someone uses, how they are using them, and the impurities that they may contain. The most common drugs that cause wounds include:


Cocaine and crack cocaine can cause several types of skin wounds. Often, they happen as a result of injecting drugs. But, also result from smoking or snorting them. The most common addiction-related wounds seen in cocaine users include:

  • Necrosis or the death of skin cells
  • Fibrous tissue formation just under the skin
  • Blackening of the palms, also called “crack hands”, from smoking crack
  • Skin ulcers and abscesses
  • Loss of cartilage in the nose
  • Pustulosis, which are small, pimple-like raised areas of the skin that are filled with pus
  • Inflamed blood vessels within the skin, leading to red spots that can bleed
  • Inflamed veins just under the skin, which swell and turn red

The main reason why cocaine use leads to a need for addiction wound care is that it’s often cut with toxic substances. The most common substance is levamisole, a cow and horse dewormer. When this medication is taken by a human for a long time, it builds up in their tissues. This leads to open skin sores and even rotting of the skin.


Another drug with the potential for needing our addiction wound care in Nashville, TN is heroin. This usually happens when people inject heroin. This can lead to scarring of the veins. Also known as “track marks”. Left untreated, this can cause other problems like skin lesions, abscesses, skin infections, cellulitis, an infection of the soft tissue under the skin, and sepsis, a potentially deadly infection in the blood. 

Much like cocaine, heroin is also cut with dangerous chemicals, most commonly citric acid. When injected, this causes acid burns in the blood vessels, veins, and other tissues. Consequently, this leads to necrotic or dead tissue. If not treated as soon as possible, necrotic tissue can lead to amputation.


Perhaps one of the most commonly recognized addiction wounds and skin reactions comes from using methamphetamine or crystal meth. People who are addicted to meth often have small open sores on their faces or arms. These are the result of “meth mites”. Meth mites are hallucinations that people have while high on meth. Thus, making them think tiny bugs are under their skin. This leads users to pick at their skin to try and dig the imaginary bugs out. 

These open sores present a huge risk of infection. Especially, if someone isn’t paying attention to their hygiene. Failing to care for infected skin sores can lead to abscesses, tissue death, sepsis, and amputation.


One of the lesser-known drugs when it comes to addiction wound care, krokodil is a drug that is a type of desomorphine, an illegal semi-synthetic opioid. It gets its name from the gray-green scaly gangrene skin ulcers it causes, which look similar to crocodile skin. Krokodil has been gaining popularity in Russia for over a decade. While still uncommon in the U.S., it has been found in several different states.

This drug is illicitly made using a mixture of codeine and toxic chemicals like gasoline, paint thinner, and battery acid, which is what makes it so dangerous. When this drug is injected, users have a high risk of developing wounds like skin and bone infections, abscesses, skin and tissue death, and sepsis.

How are Addiction Wounds Treated?

At Brentwood Springs Detox, our addiction wound care in Nashville, TN addresses the specific needs and challenges of treating wounds in individuals who struggle with addiction. Particularly, to substances that impair healing or increase the risk of infections. This aspect of medical care is crucial because people with addiction may have wounds resulting from various causes, including injection drug use, reduced immunity, poor hygiene, and neglect of health due to substance use. Here’s a detailed look at the key components of addiction wound care:

Challenges in Wound Care 

  • Infection risk: Due to compromised immune systems and possibly unsanitary living conditions, individuals with addiction are at a higher risk for infection.
  • Non-compliance: Motivational issues or cognitive impairment due to substance use can lead to poor adherence to treatment regimens.
  • Access to care: Stigma, lack of insurance, and other barriers can prevent access to necessary healthcare services.

Principles of Care

Effective addiction wound care involves several key strategies:

  • Hygienic practices: Ensuring wounds are regularly cleaned and dressed using sterile techniques to prevent infection.
  • Comprehensive assessment: Evaluating not just the wound itself but also underlying factors such as nutritional status, mental health, and risk behaviors that could impede healing.
  • Pain management: Managing pain with methods that are safe and appropriate for individuals with a history of substance use, avoiding potentially addictive pain medications unless necessary, and then only under strict supervision.
  • Collaborative approaches: Integrating services across disciplines, including addiction specialists, psychiatrists, social workers, and wound care nurses.
  • Patient education: Teaching patients about proper wound care, signs of infection, and when to seek help can empower them and promote better outcomes.
  • Harm reduction: For those not ready to stop substance use, providing advice and resources to minimize harm, such as clean needles, safe injection practices, and information about safer drug use.

Comprehensive Services

Given the complex needs of individuals with addiction, effective wound care often requires a holistic approach. This might include:

  • Mental health support: Addressing underlying issues such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD, which are common in individuals struggling with addiction.
  • Social support: Assistance with housing, employment, and social reintegration can help improve overall well-being and reduce the risk of wound complications.
  • Regular follow-up: Ensuring continuity of care through regular appointments to monitor wound healing and adapt care plans as necessary.

Addiction wound care is not just about treating wounds but also addressing the broader health and psychosocial issues faced by individuals with addiction. This comprehensive approach helps improve not only wound healing but also the overall quality of life for these patients, ultimately supporting their recovery journey.

Addiction Wound Self-Care Tips

If you are addicted to a drug that is causing wounds on or under the skin, you need to make an effort to take care of these wounds. It is almost impossible for these wounds to heal themselves if you are still in the grip of addiction. Most rehab and detox facilities have a lot of experience in addiction wound care and can help both heal your body and help you overcome your addiction. 

If you aren’t ready to seek help at a drug and alcohol rehab, you still need to receive addiction wound care. Here is what you need to do to keep your wounds from becoming life-threatening:

  • Keep the wound free of dirt or debris. Wash or disinfect the area at least twice a day, and dry it carefully by patting it with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • If the wound is deep or infected, seek help from a medical professional. Emergency rooms frequently help people with addiction wound care needs and can recommend ways for you to help the wound heal at home.
  • Your body uses fat and protein to heal, so make an effort to eat both regularly to speed up the healing process.
  • If at any point you have a fever, chills, pain around the wound, or soreness in your armpits or groin, go to the emergency room immediately. These can all be signs of a serious infection such as sepsis, which needs to be treated as soon as possible.

While asking for help can be difficult, it is necessary to prevent long-term health risks. Always remember that you aren’t alone and that medical professionals are there to help you. Wound care could be the first step to getting the help you need to quit drugs for good.

Addiction Wound Care in Nashville, TN

When addiction is accompanied by wounds related to it, this can make a person embarrassed to reach out for help. We understand exactly how to treat both the addiction and the wounds and provide compassionate medical and psychological support. Additionally, we accept Aetna insurance for those who qualify.

Contact Brentwood Springs Detox today with questions about addiction wound care in Nashville, TN.

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