Safer injecting


be well

Injecting drugs is common because the effects are felt within seconds. Commonly injected drugs include: heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine.

Injecting drug users are at a higher risk of:

  • contracting HIV, hepatitis and other infections
  • overdosing
  • causing vein damage

They’re also more likely to increase their level of drug dependence.

Reduce the risks

Use a different way

There are many different ways to take drugs – eating, smoking and sniffing are just a few. Each have their own risks, but are safer than injecting.

Take care of your equipment

If you’re going to inject, make sure all your equipment is clean and hasn’t been contaminated by someone else’s blood. Wash your spoon and mixing cup in cooled boiled water before and after you use them and use new needles every time you inject.

Use your own equipment

Don’t share equipment with others as this is how viruses and infections can be passed. Never use someone else’s filter - they often come into direct contact with used needles and are an ideal environment for viruses and bacteria.

Don’t mix

Never mix two drugs together, including alcohol, as they could increase each other’s effects (increasing the likelihood of overdose) or react in an unexpected way.

Don’t use it all in one go

Only inject half the barrel and wait until you feel the effects, this will reduce the chances of overdose and give you an idea of how strong or ‘pure’ the drug is.

Go slow

Take your time when injecting to avoid damaging your veins.

Don’t do it alone

Have others around when you inject in case something goes wrong.

Learn the signs

Learn how to recognise the signs of an overdose, what to do if someone overdoses and how to put someone in the recovery position.

Injecting safely

As well as the risk of infection, there’s the risk of causing damage to your veins if you don’t inject carefully.

  1. Use the smallest needle you can to reduce damage to the vein
  2. Put the needle into the skin, parallel to the vein and pointing in the same direction as the blood flow, then slide it into the vein
  3. If you’re using a tourniquet, release it
  4. Inject slowly. Pulling blood back into the syringe and ‘flushing’ it back doesn't work and it can cause extra damage to the vein
  5. Once you’ve finished, slide the needle out of the vein straight away and apply pressure to the site

Clean your needles

Using new needles every time you inject is the best way to prevent infection, however if you’re going to use a needle more than once, make sure you wash it between each use.

  1. Draw cool boiled water into the syringe and then flush it into a sink or different cup. Do this twice
  2. Slowly draw household bleach into the syringe and - for 30 seconds or more - flush it out into a sink or different cup. Do this twice
  3. Draw cool boiled water into the syringe and then flush it into a sink or different cup. Do this twice


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