If you're an injection drug user or know someone who is, you can reduce the associated risks by learning techniques for better self care and emergency response.
What to Do in Case of an Overdose
An overdose can be fatal. It causes breathing to slow to a stop. Then the heart stops, and blood flow to the brain stops. The first symptoms are failure to waken, shallow breathing and turning blue around the lips and fingers.
If you suspect an opiate overdose, take these immediate steps:
Try to wake the person up with pain stimulus pinch their ear or rub their sternum with your knuckles.
Call for help
If they're unresponsive, yell for help or dial 911. If you're alone, stay with them.
Preventing an Overdose
"Last year, our overdose prevention training prevented 24 overdoses."
—Casa Segura Staff Member
Clear the airway
Make sure there's nothing inside their mouth that could stop the breathing.
Start rescue breathing
Give them two quick breaths every five seconds.
Evaluate the situation
Are they any better? Can you fix a naloxone injection fast enough so they won't go too long without help breathing?
Inject 1 cc of naloxone into a major muscle (buttocks or thigh).
Re-evaluate and repeat
Are they breathing on their own? If not, continue breathing for them. Are they waking up? If not, give them another dose of naloxone in five minutes. If they haven't awakened after two doses of naloxone, continue rescue breathing until help arrives.
Naloxone wears off in 30-90 minutes. Stay with them until they're fully awake, and keep them from using more drugs before it wears off or until help arrives.
Taking Care of Your Veins
Avoid infection and other complications by following these basic tips for safer injection and better vein care:
- Make sure your hands are clean.
- Clean the injection site with soap and water or alcohol wipes.
- Don't lick the needle tip before shooting up. That gets bacteria on it.
- Find a vein and pull back on the plunger. If blood flows into the rig, you're ready.
- Release the tourniquet slowly after you hit the vein but before you inject.
- Apply pressure to the injection site for one minute after injecting.
- Don't handle the cotton or supplies too much. That spreads bacteria.
- Don't use alcohol wipes after shooting up. That keeps you bleeding.
- Find a few usable veins and trade off which ones you shoot into.
Safer Crack Cocaine Use
Crack smokers can get burns and/or sores on their lips, which can expose them to HIV and Hepatitis C. To help stop the spread of infection, take these tips for safer crack use:
- Use a glass or metal stem with an insulated mouthpiece.
- Before using, wipe mouthpiece with alcohol to prevent infections.
- Let the pipe cool down before taking next hit to prevent cuts and burns.
- Use straight glass shooters, which do not cause burns as quickly.
- Wrap the end of a straight shooter with rubber band, thick tape or paper so you're less likely to hurt lips.
- Clean crack shooters often and carefully.
- File edges of broken glass shooters until they are smooth.
- Clean cuts, burns and lip sores. Apply antibiotic ointment and keep sores covered.
- If you have a cut, sore or burn, do not share pipes or tools with others.
- Avoid broken stems, blood, urine and saliva.