I just read The Heroin User’s Handbook, and he points out something that I know to be true because I’ve seen it so many times in my life. Even when syringes are readily available and free for the taking, many IV drug users still reuse old needles – even when they’ve been made aware of the free service! Worse yet, many people still choose to share needles! Even in this day and age, when AIDS and Hep C still run rampant in drug using societies, people intentionally share needles when free ones are readily available and within walking distance. I met a girl in the skid row area a while back and she asked if she could have my old needle. I told her there was a needle exchange not even four blocks away. She had no idea it was even there! And then when she did know, she still had no interest in using it. Opting instead to buy a rig from a dealer for $1. Where do you think he got all those needles? The FREE needle exchange down the street!
Needle Exchanges offer such a valuable service to IV drug users. I just wish that everybody would take advantage of what they have to offer. Not only does it prevent life-threatening diseases, but it helps to keep your veins in top shooting shape. Even if you don’t share needles but just reuse your old needles, it’s still very damaging and dangerous. Besides tearing your veins up, bacteria can form, causing abscesses and being responsible for its own variety of diseases. We currently have about 800 needles in the house. Yeah, obviously I worked up to that. But you know? The needle exchange offers anyone 10 rigs plus all the equipment you need to prep your shot – even if you don’t bring anything in to exchange. So if you don’t want to spend the $3.19 at Walgreens for a 10-pack, go pick up 10 free needles. Then bring them into exchange when you are done with them, preferably on a Wednesday when they offer a 2-for-1 deal, and pick up 20 new ones. Keep doing that and soon enough you’ll have a sizable stash of your own that will last you for a couple weeks or more and you never have to use the same needle twice!
The book also contains a large section on how to prep a shot. The emphasis was on cleanliness and hygiene. It surprised me a little, especially when he talked so much about keeping your needle clean, that he didn’t mention using a suck-up needle. I always suck up the liquid in one needle and then transfer the contents by back-filling a fresh needle. That way there are zero sanitation concerns, but more importantly, it doesn’t damage the tip of the needle at all. I’ve posted this picture before, but I just want to refresh everyone’s memory, because it is so important to use a fresh needles every single time. This is a comparison of the tip of a syringe before its first use and the subsequent uses after that, up to six times.
Does that look like something that you want to put in your veins?? Hell no! Even if I’m having trouble finding a good vein, if I’ve made too many attempts I switch needles. It will help keep your veins usable for longer. And I think that’s important to every IV drug user (unless you just slam occasionally. In which case… good for you! I envy your ability to use in moderation!)
So that’s all. I’m done my little soap-box rant. But I do care about the health of my IV drug using peers. And I want the community to be as safe as possible. Firstly, for your own personal health. Secondly, to reduce the number of IV drug related health problems. So that society will have one less reason to stereotype us all as lazy, irresponsible, good for nothing junkies who pose a health threat and a danger to society. Harm reduction is important. I hope everybody who decides to “play” with the IV ROA takes this seriously. At best, it will save your life. At worst, it will save you a couple of abscesses.
☮ ❤ & ♪♬