Injecting drugs substantially increases the risks of drug use.
Overdose or Heart Attack
By introducing substances directly into the body, either by injecting intravenously (into a vein) or intramuscularly (into a muscle) the body's natural defenses are bypassed. The effects of the drugs are increased and therefore the risk of overdosing (opiates or slow drugs), or having a heart attack (stimulants) are increased.
Since you have bypassed your natural defense systems you run the risk of infecting yourself with bacteria and viruses that would not normally enter the body. These infections can range from minor injection site inflammations through to diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C which will have a more permanent detrimental effect on your health and may kill you.
Many illicit drugs contain high levels of impurities or may be contaminated with dangerous by products of the manufacturing process. This can lead to systemic problems if you inject them straight into your body. This can range from phlebitis through to allergic seizures.
Injecting drug straight into your body requires good technique and a knowledge of risks. Such as the positions of nerves, the difference between a vein and an artery, and the effects of different substances on body tissue. For example injecting into nerves can cause paralysis, injecting into arteries can cause blockages which may lead to limb amputation. Some substances are very alkaline and may burn body tissues.
There are ways of reducing these risks. For more information about the philosophy of harm reduction
Safer Injection Techniques
To reduce this risk of overdose or heart attack use half of your intended dose first, then wait for the drugs to take effect and top up if you need to. Since many illicit drugs are concentrated in order to be smuggled or of an unknown strength a low dose can allow you to gauge the strength of the gear first.
Bacteria and viruses are all around us and your body has natural defenses to them. If you are going to inject into your body you should endeavour to try to minimise the risk of injecting these organisms.
Clean you hands thoroughly before starting by washing them with soap and water. Use a clean towel to dry them.
In preparing your drugs for injection heat the liquid until it boils briefly. This will kill many bacteria.Filter your drugs; having made a solution to inject you should filter your drugs to remove as many impurities as possible CLICK HERE for more information about filtering drugs.
Don't share drug preparation equipment such as spoons, tourniquets, filters, rinsing water. Viruses particularly Hepatitis C virus require only tiny amounts of viral material to enter your body to infect you. The amount of virus needed is not visible to the human eye.
Separate injection equipment for each person using. Use a new fit every time and don't share needles and syringes.Do not allow other people to inject you. Cross contamination with blood is highly probable. If possible inject yourself.