There is one post that brings more people to my blog than any other by a landslide. Actually, there are three… but one seems to reign supreme in attracting new readers – Making Veins POP! (Rounding out the top three are Black Tar vs. China White: The Final Showdown! and the Opiate Bioavailability Chart, in case you were curious.) It’s no coincidence that that particular blog post gets so much traction. Finding good veins is arguably the number one plight that all injection drug users face. How to find useable veins and how to make veins more accessible is bar none the single most frequently asked question posed to me by my readers. It also tops the list of questions I’m asked by people in my real life as well. And for a very good reason. With very little exception, all injection drug users are going to struggle with finding usable veins at some point in their injecting career. Overuse, repetition, poor injection technique and dirty equipment will all wreak havoc on your veins and eventually if, bad practices are continued, every junky’s worst nightmare will be realized – no veins to inject in at all. They will collapse, re-route, sink deep under the skin and generally hide from you in order to heal themselves. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate these effects and prolong the life of your veins. I cover these techniques in-depth in Making Veins POP!, so I’m not going to re-address any of those topics. I’ll let you re-read that for yourself if you’re interested.
Even if you practice very good injection techniques, if you shoot dope for any extended amount of time, it won’t matter how much water you drink, push-ups you do or hot showers you take, only one thing will ensure you keep your veins long into the future. It’s the one thing that most people don’t even consider an option, but it’s the single best thing you can do for the health and longevity of your veins – giving them a rest!! Based on experience both personal and witnessed, having trouble injecting is the number one plight of all injection drug users. Users will put themselves through tremendous mental and physical anguish for that much-anticipated shot, despite the fact that there are many other methods of taking heroin. Those who smoke or blow their dope must sit back and laugh at our outrageous behavior; the fits we throw and wasted hours we spend jamming needle after needle into our withered arms and track marked legs. Many injectors seem to have forgotten that other methods even exist, lauding intravenous injection as the only true method. And I have to agree, it’s hands-down the best. But it’s certainly not the only. It’s not even the only effective or the only one that will get you high, or well. After revisiting smoking, I was surprised to find how effective and enjoyable it was. But if you’re dead set on injecting, yet can’t find a vein, there is one underrated method that is oft overlooked and frequently dismissed: Intramuscular Injecting.
I’ve talked about intramuscular injection quite a bit throughout this blog. I talk about it a lot in my real life as well. That’s because people tend to dismiss it, pushing it out of their minds as something not really worth considering. But there is going to come a time where you’re going to be faced with a decision; spend hours at a time digging around and destroying your veins for current and future use, or forgo the almighty rush and choose a method that isn’t as damaging, yet still provides a considerable and noteworthy high – and comes with a very strong bioavailability of 87% – at least 20% higher than the next closest method. You’ll find that after the first 15 seconds of a shot, muscling (otherwise called IM’ing) will prove to be equally enjoyable as an IV injection. And the procedure is much easier to do. That’s not to say that it’s fool-proof. There is some finesse required to achieve the maximum effect. You can’t just stick a needle in your muscle and push down. Where you inject, the speed of injection and even how you prepare the shot will all affect the strength of your high.
I outline the steps of how to administer an intramuscular injection in Ask a Junky: Routes of Administration Pt 1. But there are a few details that I want to reiterate. For one, you want your heroin to be much more liquid than usual. Use enough water to fill up to 1 full cc syringe. If it’s too concentrated then it won’t disperse properly throughout your muscle, preventing you from getting as high as possible. To ensure even and thorough disbursement, you also want to inject as slowly as you can, spending up to a minute pushing the plunger all the way down. Taking your time and going slow also doesn’t hurt as bad. It hurts like hell to push the plunger down as fast as you can just to get it over with. It also doesn’t allow time for the heroin to move through your muscle, causing it to pool in one spot. This isn’t good for your muscle either. It causes more traumatic damage than necessary which will leave you with unsightly, painful bumps and bruises. The idea behind muscling is to get the needle as deep in your muscle as possible. For this reason, the longer the needle the better. You might be used to using shorties when you IV, but try to opt for 1″ for muscling. This helps against infection as well, so take it seriously. A muscle infection, although extremely rare when using clean equipment, can be extremely bad news and very, very nasty. A larger gauge is also more comfortable and a prevents the needle tip from stopping up. Choose a 27 gauge, versus a small gauge like a 31 or even a 29 gauge.
I prefer to avoid my backside altogether because it’s hard to differentiate between where the fatty tissue is and the actual muscle, but that will be a problem more common for women than for men. The thigh, while unavoidable at times, is hands-down the most painful spot to muscle. The upper arm, or bicep, is the prime spot for muscling. But unfortunately you can’t go there forever, you need to rotate just like an IV shot. You’ll quickly find out why after a short while of repetitive use when you have to sleep on your back and can’t even shift from side to side without throbbing pain in your lumpy, swollen arms. So take my advice on this one and don’t put yourself through it. You’ll also wind up with arms like a linebacker, except constantly painful, if you don’t let up. There are plenty of places to IM, so rotate frequently. However, if the bumps and bruises do start to accumulate, I found a great treatment. They sell patches at any major pharmacy these days that are made with capsaicin peppers, typically labeled Caspian patches. Salon Pas makes a version, and there are generics from every major drug store, CVS, Walgreen, RiteAid and I’m sure Duane Reed, etc. They work miracles. Go to bed with painful, lumpy arms and wake up with smooth, pain-free arms. Otherwise, there are very few health risks posed by IM’ing, even abscesses are rare, much rarer than with IV’ing.
I can’t count how many times I’ve had someone say to me “But muscling doesn’t work for me.” They might not think that there is skill required to administer an intramuscular injection, but it’s all in the subtle details and choices you make. I’ve had many people convert to muscling once I’ve given them these “secret tips” and they are able to see for themselves how effective it can be when done right, with patience (since a slow injection is critical for the success of this delivery). I want to re-emphasize that this is still not going to be an IV shot with a rush. Some people think it doesn’t work because they don’t feel the rush. But if you look past that first 15-30 seconds you can frequently feel the shot before you even finish pushing in the plunger. When you first start doing them they are going to feel weaker than you’re used to. But if you keep it up as your regular route of administration then you’ll find you start feeling them more intensely each time. When I’m IM’ing regularly, I find I’m just as satisfied with an IM shot as I am with an IV shot. So have some patience and give it a chance. It will give your body some time to heal and when you get the nuances down, I promise you can find it an extremely satisfying route of administration!