INTRODUCTION TO SAFER INJECTING
While injecting illicit drugs gives the greatest rush and most intense high, it is also by far the riskiest way to take drugs. This information is strictly for users who insist on injecting their drugs.
There will always be much less risk of overdose, infections and health problems with alternatives to injecting, such as smoking, snorting, shafting and swallowing. If you do insist on injecting, we recommend you follow this guide to minimize the chances of HIV, hepatitis C, dirty hits and vein problems.
Your preparation area
This should be a nice private area. Clean your preparation area, hands and spoon with soap or detergent in warm water. If the preparation area is very dirty, one alternative could be to lay down fresh sheets of newspaper.
Hopefully you have access to new fits, swabs, sterile or boiled water, filter and your own tourniquet. If you don't have access to warm soapy water, you can also swab your spoon, fingers and preparation area. Remember to only wipe once, in one direction only! Otherwise you just move nasties like bacteria around with the spoon. Then let the alcohol dry as it is the drying that kills the bacteria.
Mixing up before injecting
Don’t share any of your equipment with others, including your tourniquet. Now you are ready to draw some sterile or boiled water into your fit. Put this water on the spoon with your mix. Remember to swab the implement you use to mix with. Take the filter that came in your sharps kit and place it in the spoon. The ideal is a wheel filter, especially if you are injecting pills.
Should you heat your mix?
Some users still heat their mix before injection, although there a few health issues and it is simply better to avoid heating your mix.
Why do people do it? Usually it is to help dissolve the mix. But if it isn’t dissolving properly without heat, then it shouldn’t really be going into your body! Some users think heating the mix will kill bacteria, but you actually need to boil them for five minutes at high temperature to kill most of them, something you don’t want to do to your mix!
So why is heating your mix bad for you? Heating your mix helps to dissolve impurities in your mix so that they can do more harm to your body. If you are injecting pills, heat will melt the wax which may reform inside your veins. Also, a heated mix can do extra damage to your veins.
Your options? If your mix doesn’t dissolve well, then filter it through a 0.2 micron wheel filter and inject away. Otherwise, consider alternatives to injecting such as swallowing the mix, or shafting it. Shafting means taking the needle off the syringe and putting the mix up your arse. Unlike swallowing, it can give a fairly good rush as the anus is lined with many blood vessels to absorb the drug rapidly.
Draw the mix into your fit and remove any air bubbles by flicking the barrel with the needle pointed upwards. At the same time, gently push the plunger to expel any air.
Wipe across your injection site once with a clean swab, then place your tourniquet on above the injection site. Remember not to overtighten or leave it on for too long.
Make sure the needle’s hole is facing upward then ease the needle into the vein at a gentle 30 degree angle. Make sure the needle is going in the same direction as the blood flow.
Pull the plunger back a little (‘jack back’) to see if you are in the vein. Blood should appear in the barrel of the syringe if you have.
Finishing up after injecting
Take the tourniquet off and gently press the plunger. If it hurts or there is pressure against the plunger, stop immediately as you have missed the vein or possibly gone through the vein completely.
Once done, remove the fit and keep a clean tissue or cotton wool against the injection site for as long as possible, to prevent bleeding. Don't use a swab, as alcohol prevents the blood from clotting.
Dispose of injecting gear using your sharps bin.
Some common injection myths
Don't lick the needle tip. You might save a tiny part of your shot but pick up heaps of bacteria that could really mess you up. If injecting heroin, you hardly save anything as the stomach breaks most of it down anyway.
Don't lick the injection site. Your saliva will not clean the site, but only lay down a heap of bacteria that may get into your bloodstream. Use swabs!
Don't flush. ‘Flushing,’ ‘booting,’ and ‘kicking’ are terms which refer to drawing blood back into the syringe after injection, in an attempt to ensure that no drugs are wasted by being left in the hub of the syringe. The tiny amount you might save has to be weighed against the extra damage to the vein it can cause.