Ask a Junky – Needle Exchanges

Question:  “Do you know where I can get any syringes? I can get them through my dealer, but he charges too much for them.”

Answer: This is such an important question because it’s critical for IV drug users to use a fresh needle each time they never_share_syringesinject. The best resource for needles is your local needle exchange. Don’t be afraid to go! It won’t be all creeps and low-life junky scum. Well, they’ll mostly be junkies, but definitely not all scum! Most Needle Exchanges usually have lots of extra resources that I would highly recommend taking advantage of. The one closest to me prints out a schedule every month and includes activities like yoga, acupuncture, overdose prevention courses, safe shooting courses and a slew of groups for people interested in recovery, as well as Suboxone and Methadone treatment programs – all free to IV drug users! The user who directly asked me this question did live close to a needle exchange but didn’t think she could get any without turning some in. Most needle exchange will offer anyone who comes in at least a few needles for free. Mine gives 10 needles – including all the supplies you could need to inject – to anyone who walks in the door, whether you exchange some or not. Most usually have special deal days as well. Like turn in 10, get 15, or even double exchange days – 2-for-1! I started by turning in a few needles at a time, now I turn in 700 at a time. (I don’t take advantage of the special deal days anymore. I figure I have enough).

I know that unfortunately many people don’t live close to a needle exchange. And in some places merely being in possession of syringes is a crime that can get you locked up. It’s a sin, if you ask me, but it’s the way the world is. So instead of sticking it to the man and risk getting locked up by openly trading syringes, I would suggest using a more discrete method like mail order. If you buy in bulk, I’ve seen them as cheap as .17 cents online. Here are a couple of cheap places that I found.

Affordable Diabetes

Bulk Syringes

Vitality Medical 

Many states allow anyone to purchase syringes as well. It’s up to the local pharmacies to decide whether or not to sell to the public. In California, Walgreens is only magor pharmacy that sells them.  It is $3.19 out the door for a pack of ten. Even though it’s illegal to be in possession of syringes for drug purposes in New York, I personally know that Duane Reade also sells syringes to the public, I’ve bought them there before. It’s more costly than a Needle Exchange or even online in bulk, but in a pinch these pharmacies can be a life saver. Do some research on your home state and see if any pharmacy sells syringes without question!

Using clean needles is so important. It’s literally a life or death matter. If my readers get nothing out of my blog but this, HepCComicI’d be happy. I use clean syringes all time, I slipped up a couple of times, only with my bf and now I have Hepatitis C. Years of safe shooting practice wasted by my one little indiscretion. I’m being proactive about it and it’s something that can be cured these days, but what a terrible thing to put your body through just for a quick high. If it means putting off getting high until you get home, or even until the next day, wait! It will always be worth it! Even Hepatitis C is a lot better than other diseases you could contract, like AIDS.

Communicable diseases are only one of the reasons to use a fresh needle every time. Using dirty syringes can lead to abscesses or other type of infections. In addition, the damage you do to your body by injecting with dull needles is sizable. It takes me a while to hit a vein. So, it’s not uncommon for me to go through four or five syringes during the course of one injection. When one gets too dull after trying a few different spots, then I swap it out for a fresh one. Keeping your veins fresh isn’t just important so that you can keep shooting for years to come (if you choose to). It’s also important for medical situations. I’ve often thought about what would happen if I was in some kind of accident and needed an IV drip or blood. Where would they go? Not to mention that phlebotomists have only been successful one out of the last eight times I’ve tried to get blood drawn. When I needed to get my Hep C results, it took over a month and a half. And I always use a fresh needle and always have. This is just wear and tear after years of injecting. It will happen a lot sooner to you if you don’t take safe shooting practices seriously. Don’t let these types of medical situations arise. Keep your veins in good shape by using a fresh needle each time.

So show society wrong and be a smart drug user. Just because you use junk doesn’t mean you have to treat your body like junk!


5 thoughts on “Ask a Junky – Needle Exchanges

  1. FYI I’ve also bought at Safeway in CA and CVS in Philadelphia.

    I’ve never seen them actually count your spent pins at an exchange in Philadelphia or San Francisco. As long as you return more than zero they give you at least twenty in return. I know in Philly though, they won’t give you anything if you have nothing to return. Though they will give you IM needles if you do naloxone training. So you could probably do that then return one of those.

    I’m always blown away by how friendly the exchange volunteers are. That’s certainly not the case at pharmacies. That’s why (one reason) I donate to SF AIDS foundation once a year and get all my suppliers there even though I could afford to go to the pharmacy.


  2. Phoenix, AZ area and Las Vegas, NV area – Walmart. (although for me, one Walmart Neighborhood Market – which is mostly groceries, seems to do it upon a discretionary basis. Didn’t look “junkie” at the time, but definitely not Type I Diabetic either – am quite plump.) $13.63 for a box of 100. Some do 10 packs for $5. Could be the entire states of Nevada and Arizona, however no personal experience with outside of these two areas.

    Liked by 1 person

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