A Guide To Good Vein Care

First and Foremost

It is safer to use alternative methods instead of injecting your drugs. Other methods include snorting, smoking, swallowing and plugging (up your bum).

If you are injecting pills, use a wheel filter which removes the particles that cause damage to veins. Directions also have a pamphlet that explains how to use wheel filters. (Or see my blog post: Ask a Junky: Micron Wheels!) Don’t re-use a wheel filter as they cannot be effectively cleaned to remove harmful bacteria.

Use NEW needles/equipment each time you inject. After several uses, a needle becomes blunt and causes damage to your vein. Use the finest gauge possible for the drug you are using. The pictures below show how damaged the tips become after a few uses. Should you have trouble finding a vein and have pushed the needle through a few times, put your mix into a new needle and try again, in a different site if possible. (Check out my post: Making Veins POP!)

Harm Reduction-Bad Needle

Safe Injection Instructions

Have all your injecting equipment ready: new fits, alcohol swabs, sterile water, wheel filters, tourniquet and sharps container. Make sure each person has new injecting equipment if you’re doing a group mix. 

Wash your hands well with soap and water. If you don’t have access to water use alcohol swabs to clean your hands. Clean down your work area with soap and water, detergents or swabs. If this is not possible, then lay down clean paper to work on. 

If the equipment is new, then it is sterile. Clean your spoon well by wiping with alcohol swabs. 

Wheel filters are available in lots of sizes, if the pills are very chalky then you will need a large size filter to filter out large size particles. Then use a smaller filter. A wheel filter pamphlet is available that outlines which wheel filters work the best for different drugs. Refer to the pamphlet for further info. 

Sterile water is provided in the fit packs. If this is not available, use bottled water that doesn’t contain additives. 

Clean the injecting site with an alcohol swab or soap and water. Wipe in one direction only as rubbing back and forth contaminates the injecting site. You may need more than one alcohol swab to ensure the site is properly cleaned prior to injecting. 

If you have a group mix, make sure all the syringes are new. A used syringe will contaminate the mix in the spoon. 

Clean your spoon between every shot, even if you are the only one who has used it. This will ensure that your mix is free from bacteria and germs. Or use fresh cookers, which can usually be found at your local needle exchange.

Dispose of all injecting equipment in a disposal container provided with your fit pack. Or use a strong puncture proof container. Return all used equipment to your local needle exchange, or any haz mat recycling center.

Harm Reduction-Meth Veins

Good Injecting Technique

Practicing a good injection technique will minimize damage to your veins and help avoid infections and scarring. If you think that you may have an infection in a vein it is important to seek medical advice.

Tourniquets – Only use a tourniquet if you need to, many people don’t need to use them at all. Placing your tourniquet at the correct place on your arm, usually ‘on the bone’ between the shoulder and bicep muscle will assist injecting. Some people like using ‘hospital style’ tourniquets in preference to the disposable ones found  at local needle exchanges for free, these are available for sale at online medical supply stores. Which ever type you use, don’t share your tourniquet. Release tourniquets when you are sure the needle has found the vein.

Rotate Injecting Sites – Every time you inject into a vein, that vein is damaged. Rotate your sites for injecting and allow them to heal before using the same vein again. And avoid injecting into a vein which is red, painful, infected or swollen. Seek medical advice if your vein has any of these symptoms.

The Angle – When injecting, place the needle at a 45 degree angle with the hole of the needle (bevel edge) facing upwards. The needle should be inserted into the vein following the flow of blood. For instance, if injecting into the arm the needle is inserted upward towards the shoulder. Sometimes blood will appear in the barrel if the needle is in a vein. Jack back Pulling back the plunger when you think you are in the vein should result in a little blood seeping into the fit, this will let you know if the needle is successfully in the vein.

Infections

ABSCESSES: Are caused by an infection which you can get from using dirty or shared equipment, or not filtering your mix before injecting. If you develop an abscess, it’s important to see a doctor to have it treated. If you attempt to treat it yourself by squeezing or lancing, there’s a risk of spreading the infection through your body and affecting vital organs. This may become very serious or even life threatening. Ignoring it may lead to the abscess eventually bursting and leaving a crater of dead, infected tissue. Let the infection heal first before using the arm to inject.

ULCERS: Can be caused by over use of an injecting site where the skin tissue and/or vein has been given little chance to heal between shots. That is when infection sets in and an ulcer develops. If you develop an ulcer, see your doctor or go to a medical center for treatment. Ulcers left untreated can grow, spread and become very painful and quite often lead to secondary infections such as blood poisoning. Let abscesses and ulcers heal before injecting into that site again. Always rotate injecting sites.

Programs: Smart Recovery, Compass, Mindful Art Therapy Externally, Alcoholics Anonymous,  Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous

 

Information provided by: Level 6 Cosmopolitan Center -www.directionsact.com, www.facebook.com/directionsaod, www.twitter.com/directionsaod

 

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