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Injecting Advice

Tips For Supplying Foil

Written by Nigel Brunsdon on . Posted in .

So foil is now legal in the UK (since September 5th), needle programmes across the country are now (hopefully) stocking it and offering it as a possible tool for change or early engagement route for people who smoke rather than inject their drug of choice. So here’s a bit of advice for those workers giving it out.

Foil for change

One of the many roles of a needle programme is supporting people to move away from injecting to a safer route of administration, this is of course where foil is most likely to be used as a tool for most of us. But getting someone who injects to just move over to smoking is a pretty hard sell so bear these points in mind:

  • Timing is everything: An ideal time to move over to smoking is when someone is already considering a change in their use, it might be because they are having problems getting a vein, or that they want to reduce the risk of overdose following a personal or witnessed OD. Be aware of these opportunities to positively change behaviours.
  • You don’t have to change all at once: Moving to smoking is a big step for some people. If someone is having problems with their veins then smoking, even just once a day, rather than injecting can help give those veins a bit of much needed rest.
  • If you’re reducing, it’s easier to dose when smoking: Although injecting is perceived as cheaper we have to remember that no matter what the strength of the deal thats injected you are getting it all, with smoking if the drug is stronger you can adapt your use easier. This is especially useful when reducing the amount used as it’s likely people only want to get rid of withdrawals rather than getting high.

Of course, if someone has been injecting for a while then they may be out of practice with smoking, and the worries they have about smoking being more expensive might prevent them from even trying it. The perception has always been that injecting is more cost effective, but bear in mind that if someone is using an acidifier (Citric or VitC) to prep their injection they are probably using too much and destroying some of their drug. That said though, it’s important to make sure we make smoking as cost effective as possible to help encourage the change. The video below shows how to make the foil ‘pipe’ to maximise the amount of drug you can ‘recycle’ from reside. I’d recommend all drugs workers to be familiar with making these.

Burning foil myth

There are a few myths connected with foil, one of the most mentioned ones (this even made it’s way into some leaflets) is that you have to ‘burn’ a residue off the foil before smoking from it as this is ‘poisonous’, for some reason a lot of people think it’s plastic. Think about this for a moment…

… a poisonous coating on something that is put on food, and then in an oven at high temperatures. Doesn’t really make sense when you think it through does it. There is a shiny side and a dull side on foil, but this is because during the process for making foil it goes over a roller at high speed, this polishes one side. On domestic foil there is a slight palm oil residue (again from the rollers) but this is likely harmless. On the foil that Exchange Supplies produce there is no oil residue. Burning foil before using it will actually make it more brittle.

Foil is an important and logical addition to the equipment we use in needle programmes, not everyone will use it, but having a stock of it available can reduce a few peoples instances of injecting.

Buy foil from Exchange Supplies Foil Video

Writer: Nigel Brunsdon

Nigel Brunsdon is the owner of Injecting Advice. He’s been working in harm reduction since the 1990’s, previously a frontline needle programme worker he now splits his time between photography and developing online resources for drugs workers and users.

Nigel Brunsdon

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