You’ve only got one set of veins. If you take care of them, they’ll last longer. Once veins collapse they are gone for good.
Improving your injecting skill can really reduce vein damage and stop some of the serious conditions that affect people with lots of collapsed veins. It can also prevent you from having to move to riskier and more unsafe sites to inject.
Go slow. Be gentle.
Rotate sites to let your veins heal.
Use the smallest needle possible.
You've only got one set of veins. If you give them a break when they have been damaged by injecting, they have a better chance to recover. If you treat your veins good it will be easier to get your hit!
Wash your hands and the injection site before and after every injection.
Use a new sterile or cleaned cooker (spoon)
Use a new sterile needle and syringe every time.
If using acid to break down your drug use as little as possible. Vitamin C packets are the safest option, you can get them from SWAP!
Consider smoking or snorting when you need to rest your veins.
Never go back and inject where there is redness, pain, swelling or infection.
Never ‘flush’ the syringe after your hit - this doesn’t get more drugs into your system, but it does cause vein damage.
Always use a latex or non-latex tourniquet (tie off), release it before injecting.
Never inject cocaine into the same area more than once every few hours - the local anaesthetic effect means you can easily cause serious damage.
Never share injecting equipment including spoons, filters and mixing water.
How veins collapse
Damage to the lining of the vein upsets the flow of blood.
This upset causes clots to form on the inside of the vein.
These clots make the vein narrower, causing more clots to form, making the vein narrower still.
Eventually the vein blocks, and the clots turn into scar tissue which shrinks and pulls the sides of the vein together, causing it to collapse.
Injecting into both arms and varying the places that you inject will give your veins a chance to recover between injections.
It is always easier to inject with the hand you write with. Learning to inject with the other hand will help save your veins.
It is better to learn this skill sooner rather than later - because you don’t want to start learning to inject with your other hand when you need a hit, but can’t find a vein.
Needle and syringe size
Use the smallest size needle that you can – this will cause the least damage
images used with permission from exchangesupplies.org