Working with injectors isn’t just about giving out clean equipment, you should also be aware of some of the more practical issues faced by people on a daily basis. And of course one of the major ones is getting a vein to inject into in the first place.
This is the first in a short series of articles aimed at increasing access to veins.
Of course I’ve covered issues around raising a vein before on this blog, mainly when I’ve written about the best way to use a tourniquet, so I’m not going to cover that again here. Instead I’d like to talk about one of the easiest things you can do to help get a vein standing up and saying hello
Warmth is your friend
Heat will help dilate veins (dilation is where a vein gets bigger). Keeping warm before injecting will make them easier to find. Remember it’s just as important to warm your body as it is the area you’re injecting. Here are some suggestions to help:
- Don’t inject the moment you get home on a cold day, give your body some time to warm up first, this will also mean you’re more relaxed.
- Have a warm bath, it’s a great way to warm up your body quickly. But please have some common sense and GET OUT of the bath before injecting, overdosing is already a risk you don’t want to add 20 gallons of water to the mix.
- Invest in a hot water bottle, and give it a big hug for 10 minutes.
- If you’re homeless get in the warm for a while before you try and inject, good drug projects will be happy to talk to you for awhile. Take advantage of this (and ask them if they’ll let you have a warm drink).
- If you’re out and about on a cold day make sure you wear lots of layers to keep your core body temperature high. If your body is cold it will keep more blood away from your arms/legs to protect your internal organs from the cold.
- If you need to inject when you’re out and about then you might be able to get ‘heat packs’ from local pharmacies, these stay warm for quite a while. You can even get really good ones that can be ‘refreshed’ in boiling water or a microwave.
On that last point; it would be difficult for some homeless injectors to afford heat packs, but given how these can help reduce the amount of vein damage then this is really something we should be considering a standard item in the better NSPs.
I’d like to thank CovertUser from Twitter for this message that inspired this article (and as a result the whole series):
When caught out, like I was this morning & you need heat to get a vein, instant hot packs are available at chemists to do the trick.
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