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Tips for safer injecting

Slamming is dangerous, for all kinds of reasons – some are less obvious than others. If you haven’t started slamming – don’t. It can lead to a huge list of long-term physical and mental health problems and can make it extremely hard to get clean.

For the sake of your health and to lower the risk of addiction, switch to a non-injectable form of the drug if you can. But if you’re going to slam, here’s what you need to know.

This guide covers:

  1. The basics (this page)
  2. Equipment and sharing
  3. Preparing to inject: setup, mixing up and torniquets
  4. The injecting process: techniques, flushing and clean-up


The basics

Learn the difference between a vein and an artery – injecting into an artery can kill. Arteries are deeper and harder to find than veins, but they sit very close together.

Arteries and veins

  • If you hit an artery, the blood will be brighter and will spurt rather than ooze.
  • It’ll be harder and more painful to inject your drugs, and the plunger will probably be forced back. It may contain frothy blood.
  • It you think you’ve hit an artery, pull out straight away and apply firm pressure to the injection site.
  • If the bleeding continues for more than five minutes, seek medical help at A&E, an NHS Walk-in Centre or a GP surgery. If you’re losing blood fast, call 999.

Use a new needle if you fail to find a vein straight away. To reduce the risk of collapsed veins avoid injecting into the same area.

Avoid injecting into veins in your hand – they’re too small to handle it and could collapse.

Collapsed veins may never recover. Injecting below the waist can cause serious circulation problems if a vein is damaged. Never inject into a site that’s sore or swollen as this area may be infected or the vein may be blocked.

Get to a doctor if an injection site is swollen for more than a few days, if it’s red, hot or tender or if there’s any serious bleeding, the skin changes colour, is sore or weeps.

Next: Equipment and sharing ››

Published: 30/08/2018
Next review: 30/08/2021