Treatment & Education Drug Services
Telephone: 01685 880 090

Needle Exchange

NEEDLE EXCHANGE

 

As an agency working within a harm reduction ethos needle and syringe exchange is a vital part of our work. Needle exchanges are a fundamental and vital aspect of harm reduction intervention.

Through our needle exchange we offer:

  • A place to access new sterile injecting equipment and paraphernalia and dispose of used injecting equipment.
  • Safer injecting advice and information provided by confident and knowledgeable staff.
  • The opportunity to discuss other harm reduction issues such as overdose prevention, recovery position, HBV and tetanus vaccinations, wound care, safer sex and so on.

SAFER INJECTING

INJECTING INTO A VEIN

  1. Don’t share anything – make sure you’ve got your own works, spoon, filters and water. Sharing any injecting equipment increases your chance of getting infections like hepatitis and HIV.
  2. Wash your hands and the injection site before you start, to reduce the risks of abscesses (soap and water do as good a job as swabs).
  3. Make sure you’ve got the correct size and type of needle for where you are injecting – there are different size needles for different types of injecting. Ask at the needle exchange or your drug worker will be able to help.
  4. Spend time trying to get a vein up. Clenching your fist, ‘wind milling’ your arm, or putting your hands in warm water will all help. It is best to avoid using a tourniquet (if you do, remember to release it before injecting). You should always change your injecting site regularly – don’t go in one vein all the time.
  5. Inject slowly, at a shallow angle, leaving about 1/2 cm of the needle out. Remember to check that you are in the vein by pulling back – dark red blood should trickle into the barrel. You should be injecting with the flow of blood (needle pointing in the direction of your heart).
  6. At the end of the injecting, don’t ‘flush out’ your works (draw blood back into the barrel then re-inject it). This can shorten the injecting life of your vein and lead to injecting injuries.
  7. You should only use injecting equipment once – otherwise you’re more likely to get local infections and injecting injuries.
  8. Dispose of your works carefully. Once you’ve finished with them put them in a sharps bin and take them back to your needle exchange or chemist.

INJECTING INTO A MUSCLE

  • Make sure you’ve got the correct size and type of needle for where you are injecting – there are different size needles for different types of injecting. Ask at the needle exchange or your drug worker will be able to help.
  • Relax and straighten the leg or arm.
  • Clean the site and wash your hands.
  • Hold the barrel and with one quick stab make sure most of the needle goes in (leave about 1/2 cm out).
  • Draw back – there shouldn’t be any blood present.
  • If there is blood present, take needle out and try again.
  • If there’s no blood it’s OK to inject.
  • Inject slowly.

Main injection sites for muscles

  • Thighs/arms – use blue needles.
  • Buttocks – use green needles.

Never inject more than 2ml in one site at any one time.

Arteries

As well as the pain, you’ll know you’ve hit one if:

  • The plunger is forced back by the pressure of the blood.
  • The blood is red and frothy.

If you do hit one:

  • Remove the needle.
  • Raise the limb.
  • Apply pressure and get help.

First time injecting

If you are injecting for the first time, be careful of the strength and amount of drugs you are using and don’t fix alone. Take small amounts in small fixes especially if it’s a new supply from a new source.

There is no safe way of injecting tablets that should be swallowed.

REMEMBER ALL INJECTING CAN BE RISKY. HOWEVER, IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO IT, SPEAK TO YOUR DRUG WORKER & READ THIS.

 

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