Safer Injecting **
Safer injecting is vitally important to keep you as safe as possible from blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV. But there are other reasons for learning and practicing safer injecting techniques, including avoiding other infections such as endocarditis as well as taking care of your veins.
The basic principles of safer injecting include:
Recommended injecting procedures
If you choose to inject it is important to do so safely. If your injecting practices are sloppy or unsafe you may be at risk, not only of contracting HIV and hepatitis C, but from dirty hits, blood poisoning and abscesses.
Before you begin, wipe down the surface on which you're preparing your hit and make sure you have everything you need within reach, including:
Wash your hands with soap and water. If clean water is unavailable to wash your hands, give them a good wipe with a couple of clean swabs.
Give your spoon a good clean with a swab and place in the drugs.
Use your new fit to draw up the water from the water ampoule or glass of sterile water.
Add water to the spoon and mix (you can use the end of the syringe which you have swabbed clean).
Add the filter to the spoon. Never use a cigarette filter as they may contain tiny glass fibres which can damage your veins and heart. Use a tampon or cotton buds instead.
If you are injecting pills, filter at least three times.
Draw the solution up through the filter to remove impurities.
Remove air bubbles by pointing the needle towards the sky and flicking the side of the syringe.
Push the plunger up slowly until the air bubble escapes through the eye of the needle.
Wipe the injection site once with a swab. Swabbing will clean the area and lessen the risk of bacterial infection and abscesses. Only wipe the swab in one direction — away from the injecting site. Wiping the swab back and forth simply spreads any germs onto the injecting site.
If you can find a vein without a torniquet then don't use one. However, using a torniquet can help you locate a vein. Place the tourniquet around the upper arm (if injecting on the inside of the elbow). Don't leave it on too long. If you're having trouble finding a vein release the tourniquet and try again. Running warm water over the injection site will help raise a vein.
If you are injecting into the lower arm (such as the back of the hand, which is not recommended) still put the tourniquet around the upper arm.
Put the needle into the vein at a 45 degree angle with needle bevel facing out. Blood will sometimes appear in the top of the syringe barrel when the needle is inserted in the vein properly.
Pull back (jack back) the plunger and blood should appear. If it doesn't, remove the needle and tourniquet from your arm, take a deep breath and start again.
When you think the needle is in the vein, loosen the tourniquet and slowly depress the plunger of the syringe. If there is any resistance or pain you may have missed the vein. If so, start again.
Remove the needle, keep your arm straight, and apply pressure to the injection site for a couple of minutes.
Dispose of all equipment in a safe disposal bin.
Check out the User's News article Tourniquets - a user's guide [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 428.31 KB]
Check out the User’s News article OxyContin — Ways to Reduce Damage for information on injecting pills.
The User’s News article Safer Using in Everyday Life [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 1.68 MB] outlines some real-world scenarios and gives tips on safer injecting in difficult circumstances.
For a personal account of injecting safely, check out the User’s News story Injecting Tips [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 181.58 KB]
Contact NUAA if you wish to receive the AIVL resources A guide to safer injecting or A guide to cleaning fits.
Shakes and tremors
If you or the person injecting you has shaky hands, try to stop and take a breather as the shakiness may cause you to miss or have a painful shot. Take a few minutes to breath and relax before trying again.
Injecting methamphetamines (crystal, ICE) and cocaine
Have extra equipment — multiple injections in meth or coke sessions are not uncommon.
If injecting in a group, try and have your own preparation and injecting area. Your injecting equipment can very easily get mixed up with someone else’s.
Injecting crystal involves the same method as injecting speed or heroin. Crystal should easily dissolve in water, with little or no residue left in the spoon. The mix is usually clear. If you want more information on this safe injecting method see AIVL’s Safer injecting pamphlet (available from NUAA’s NSP).
Check out Tips for using crystal [Adobe Acrobat PDF - 1.57 MB] in User’s News