There are many things that we can do to take care of ourselves and reduce the risks associated with using drugs.
- Don’t use alone if you can. If you are using alone, try a test shot or call someone—like Never Use Alone or the BRAVE app to connect, by voice, to a person who will stay on the call with you until you’re safe.
- Test your drugs for fentanyl. Learn how to use a fentanyl test strip
- Remember the 4 S’s: SNORT, SMOKE or SLOWLY inject to SAMPLE a new batch.
- Carry naloxone and know how to use naloxone
- Know where to inject—check out our Safer Injection quick guide below.
- Use new needles or clean them. Remember that insulin syringes develop a burr after a single use. New needles pierce, while old needles tear, which increases the risk of infection.
- Use sterile water if possible to mix your drugs.
Avoid HIV and Hepatitis C
- Have your own rigs and gear.
- Use a new needle for splitting drugs.
- Use condoms and practice safe sex.
Also, we can take a close look at all the steps we engage in when preparing and using drugs in order to figure out if that process can be made safer anywhere along the way.
Safer Smoking Tips
- Pipe covers can reduce disease transmission if each person smoking from the same pipe uses their own cover.
- Disposable pipe covers can also protect your mouth from contact with hot metal, glass, chips and sharp edges.
- Fentanyl has poisoned the drug supply and deadly overdose is a real risk. Use fentanyl test strips to identify the presence of fentanyl in your drug supply.
- Avoid overamping. Don’t mix your drug with other uppers or drugs like Viagra.
Safer Injection Tips
- Help reduce your risk of infections by washing your hands before prepping your drugs. Germs and bacteria on your hands can contaminate anything you touch.
- Viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B and C can be spread through sharing not only needles but also cottons, cookers and rinse water. Mark your works so that they don’t get mixed up with someone else’s.
- Cotton is used to help filter out particles that don’t dissolve in water. It also helps to protect the tip of the needle. A new cotton for each shot for each person is best. Cotton fever is a result of bacteria growth on used cottons. If you reuse your cottons, try freezing them to kill bacteria.
- Cookers (caps) are used for mixing and cooking your shot. Keep your cooker as level as possible and pay attention to where your cooker is in the process to avoid spilling your shot.
- Sometimes searching for a vein, especially if you’re in withdrawal, makes the process more stressful. Snort a small amount of your drug to take the edge off.
- Tying off the vein restricts the flow of blood and helps to make the vein more visible. Try not to leave the tie on too long. If you notice the loss of sensation in your limb or your skin turning blue/gray, remove the tie immediately.
- Cleaning the injection site before injecting will reduce the risk of infection. Wash the area with soap and water then wipe with an alcohol pad moving outwards from the center. Allow the area to dry before injecting.
- The fentanyl test strips are moisture sensitive: do not open the package until ready to test your shot.
- Use bleach to clean needles, syringes, cookers and surfaces where drugs are prepared. This may reduce the risk of HIV and hepatitis C but doesn’t eliminate it. When using bleach to clean your syringes, make sure that the outside of the needle is submerged into the bleach and rinsed off as well.
- Dispose of syringes safely after one use. Place them in a sharps container or another container like an empty bleach or laundry detergent bottle. Keep all used syringes and needles away from other people.
Our Safer Injection Quick Guide below shows you how to choose a safer injection area. Remember to rotate sites regularly.
You deserve to be healthy. Contact us at 513.399.6969 to learn more.