There are ways to reduce the harms related to injecting drugs. Of all the ways to use or consume drugs, injecting is oftentimes the most “risky” in terms of infection, disease transmission and overdose. Viruses like HIV and hepatitis C can be transmitted from injecting, and skin infections can be common. When you inject, overdose can happen quickly, especially if your drugs are tainted.
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR SAFER INJECTION & USE
Use sterile supplies especially new needles or syringes. Viruses like hepatitis C and infection-causing bacteria can live on used cookers, cottons and in water, so it’s important to use sterile works when you inject.
Prevent skin abscesses by using clean, sterile supplies and washing your hands with warm, soapy water before you inject. Use an alcohol pad to wipe your injection spot before injecting.
Take care of your skin and let your veins heal. Rotate injection sites, and if you do use the same vein choose a different spot along the vein to inject. If you notice track marks forming, clean the area with warm soapy water and break open a Vitamin E gel cap and rub the oil onto your skin.
Don’t “skin pop” meth. Skin popping is when you inject your drug under the skin instead of in a vein. When you skin pop meth, the drug isn’t absorbed into the body and you can get an abscess. Find additional info about using crystal meth at Tweaker.org.
Start with a lower dosage, and go slowly when you first start using. You can always take more later.
Test your drugs if possible. You never know what might be mixed in your supply.
Get trained to prevent overdose and make sure others you use with are as well. Keep Narcan (naloxone) with you if you or others around you are using heroin or other opioids.
Have a sober friend with you when you use (especially for the first time using a drug).
Find a safe space to use, if possible.
Don’t mix your drugs. Mixing things like opioids, alcohol, benzodiazepines or other downers with other drugs can be dangerous.
Eat before you use and hydrate with water, juice or other liquids.
Plan for safer sex, if you like to have sex while during or after you use. Consider PrEP for yourself. PrEP is an effective way to prevent HIV infection, as are condoms and other safer sex supplies if you use them properly.
Syringe Access & Safer Drug Use
We provide safer drug use supplies to people who inject or use other substances in order to prevent the transmission of HIV, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases.
Drug & Alcohol Counseling
We provide non-judgmental, harm reduction-based drug and alcohol counseling and drop-in services for people interested in addressing their substance use. Treatment is a partnership, individually tailored to address each participant’s goals and needs wherever they are in their experience with alcohol and drugs.
Harm Reduction Center
The Harm Reduction Center is a place of welcome and a pathway to improved health and healing. Located in the Tenderloin/SoMa neighborhood, the Harm Reduction Center provides health services and supplies that help people who inject drugs manage their health, prevent overdose, and stop HIV and hepatitis C transmission.