Harm Reduction: Fits - How to Get Them, How to Get Rid of Them
One of the realities facing people who inject drugs is that you need to carry a lot of equipment. For many drug users this poses logistical problems, such as where to get equipment, how to get rid of it and how to manage the law when carrying injecting equipment. The advantages for always having new equipment are well known to many users – prevention of blood-borne viruses, healthy vein care, and so on. However there are also benefits to users for disposing of equipment in a proper way, and with a bit of information users need not fear the law and the police nearly as much as they might think.
Where can I get new fits and injecting equipment?
You can get new fits wherever you see this sign:
At NUAA we have a needle and syringe program (NSP) where you can get free injecting equipment such as fits, barrels, tips, swabs, water, spoons, tourniquets and disposal containers, as well as safer using information and (not to mention condoms and other safe sex goodies).
There are many more NSPs around NSW. Click here a list of NSPs or call ADIS for you nearest exchange on (02) 9361 8000 or 1800 422 599. Fit-packs are available at some Community health centres, chemists and hospitals. (ADIS also has a list of chemists that provide fits packs.)
Some centres have needle vending machines, which can be accessed at all hours of the day. While some of them dispense fit packs for free, the average cost is around $2 and can be as much as $4. Some chemists also sell swabs, water and spoons.
How should I dispose of my fits?
The best place to dispose of your used fits is at an NSP – that way the fits are destroyed safely. You can put your used fits in a sharps disposal container and return it to your local NSP (some chemists and most hospitals will also accept your used equipment).
Other ways to dispose of used fits
Use the yellow metal fit bins in public toilets.
Some NSPs have a metal fit disposal bin located outside their building – NUAA has one, check it out!
If you can’t get to an NSP or public fit bin, the next best option is to put your used fit in a screw-top plastic container (like an empty drink bottle) and put it in a rubbish bin.
It is not illegal to place used fits in the garbage; however it is our duty at NUAA to encourage users to use other disposal facilities first, such as returning used fits to NSPs, and by using public fit bins.
You should never put your used fits in household recycling bins. It is dangerous for recycling plant workers.
Shitting in your own backyard
Dumping your fits on the ground or leaving them in some other public place can actually increase police activity around your favourite using places. Have you found that special using space, out of rain, wind and sight? By dumping your fits, spoons, swabs, balloons and wrappers it could soon become the copper’s favourite arresting place. Don’t red-light yourself, your friends and your dealers.
Leaving fits, syringe wrappers, spoons, swabs, balloons etc. near your NSP can also make for bad publicity.
Yes, you know that and we know that, but sometimes members of the non-using public get freaked out by seeing anything to do with drugs or injecting. In addition, littering has been uncool ever since Abba said “Keep Australia Beautiful” in the 1970s. Chocolate wrappers, chewing gum, drink cans, syringe wrappers – it’s all litter. Shoot up, then pick up.
But what if the police search me and find my fits?
Users are often worried about carrying their used fits around with them as they are frightened of being searched by the police and being found with evidence.
The best thing is to never admit to using, or that they are your fits. It is not illegal to carry either new or used needles and syringes. (It is illegal to possess injecting equipment with the intention of using illegal drugs. So don’t admit to using!) Technically it is an offence to possess other injecting equipment (spoons, swabs, tourniquets, etc.) but in reality this is never prosecuted.
So if you are asked why you have the equipment on you, you can say you are a concerned citizen transporting needle/syringes to a safe disposal point – your local NSP!
Is it legal to give my friends new fits?
Obviously many users will give their friends and acquaintances new equipment if they have it. This is because they understand that it is far preferable for their friends to use new equipment rather than risk hepatitis C or other infections by using old, used equipment. However, technically this is illegal (although many people think it’s time for this to change - see article on page 31). Only authorised people (such as NSP workers) are legally able to distribute injecting equipment.
The Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 makes it illegal to supply or possess needles and syringes for the use in the administration of illegal drugs (Section 11), and also aiding and abetting the administration of a prohibited drug (Sections 19 and 20).
Did you know that the police do not deliberately hang around needle exchanges?
Since 1988 is has been police policy to stay away from the areas surrounding NSPs. The policy state that “without restricting their day to day duties and obligations, police should be mindful not to carry out unwarranted patrols in the vicinity of NSPs that might discourage people who inject drugs from attending”.
Cat is an Information, Support and Referral officer at NUAA
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