Avoid ever re-using or sharing equipment
If this booklet is included in a PIP PAC pack you should notice colour-coded syringes, spoons and straws to reduce the risks of sharing (yellow/ green or red/ blue).
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to re-use, make sure you only use your own and no one else's. Get into the habit of marking your own syringes (scratch a letter/ number on the side) to ensure you know which is yours. You should also flush it through with clean fresh water after use so that it doesn't clog with congealed blood.
To reduce possible damage to the veins use short thin needles. Short needles meant for injecting insulin are the most suitable.
Sterile cups, spoons and filters
Sterile packaged cups or spoons with filters are the best choice for dissolving chems in water, but avoid torn filters or exposed fibres as they can end up being injected and can cause problems. Dissolving chems in a regular teaspoon is the best alternative but, before use, disinfect the spoon in boiling water or soak in 1 part thin bleach to 10 parts water remembering to rinse off thoroughly.
Sterile water, available in small ampoules, is best for dissolving and injecting. The best alternative is freshly boiled tap water, letting the water cool down before use. Use sufficient water to completely dissolve the drugs. If you are re-using syringes do not share water. Whether you are using ampoules or boiled water, throw away leftovers after use as bacteria build up quickly.
Washing your hands and cleaning the site
Wash your hands before you inject and clean the injection site with an alcohol pad. Alternatively, clean the site with a cotton ball and alcohol, or by washing it with soap and water, drying with a clean paper towel or tissue.
Choose a quiet place
Choose a quiet, safe and clutter-free place to slam, ensuring surfaces are clean.
Alcohol pads/ swabs
Alcohol pads are sterile-packed and suitable for single use only. By wiping the slam site firmly once with a pad, you disinfect the needle’s point of entry. You can also disinfect the site by washing it thoroughly with soap and water or use a cotton ball and alcohol.
Where to inject
The inside of the elbow and lower arms. Try not to inject below a recent hit on the same vein: go above it (towards the heart) so the previous site is not irritated twice. Aim to slam at least 1cm away from your last slam location and rest injecting sites to allow them to heal and reduce scarring. If possible, learn to swap arms. Injecting elsewhere else (neck, cock or groin) is potentially very dangerous. If you have done this we advise to seek advice from a drugs service.
The inside of the elbow is by far and away the safest place to inject. Injecting anywhere else (eg: the neck, cock or groin) is potentially very dangerous and we advice you to seek advice from a drugs service. Aim to slam at least 1cm away from your last slam location and rest injecting sites by not injecting in the same place. If possible, learn to swap arms.
Tourniquet (pronounced turn-e-kay)
Used properly, tourniquets raise veins and can be helpful for some when injecting. However, a badly used tourniquet introduces many new risks and it would be safer not to use one at all rather than to use a tourniquet badly.
For example, some guys don’t like a needle and syringe ‘flapping around’ while they release the tourniquet which is why they release it after injecting. This is not advisable as it puts pressure on the veins (which can burst) and can cause serious circulation problems if you pass out with the tourniquet tight around your arm. The ideal tourniquet should be:
- Wide enough to not cut into the skin
- Long enough to tie in a way that
- You can loosen with your mouth
- Have some give in it
- Medical tourniquets
You need to be able to release the tourniquet without removing a hand from the needle once it’s sited. Medical tourniquets are designed to be used by another person and not the person being injected.
Tourniquets and the law
Here we have a problem (at least in the UK) as Section 9a of the Misuse of Drugs act specifically stops being able to legally supply tourniquets of any kind to injecting drug users. It should be noted however that in the history of the act there hasn't been a single prosecution of a drug service giving out ANY form of harm reduction equipment.
Cotton wool swabs/ kitchen roll/ tissue
Immediately after slamming, press on the injection site with a cotton wool swab, folded kitchen roll or tissue to help the site close quickly. This also helps reduce bruising and helps the veins heal faster. Don’t use alcohol pads for this as it slows down the healing of the wound.
Needle (sharps) disposal
Use a sharps bin or sharps disposal unit whenever possible. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes and don’t have to be bulky. Only recap a needle if it’s your own. Some guys improvise by sealing used equipment in plastic drinks bottles with screw caps then throw them away as domestic waste. Be aware this could present a risk to refuse collectors so it’s important to dispose of equipment as safely as possible.
So, at the risk of repeating ourselves: use a sharps bin or disposal unit whenever possible and take it to a needle exchange for safe disposal.
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