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How to inject into a vein more safely

Injecting drugs is never safe, but these tips will help to prevent infections and damage to your veins.

Step 1

Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser gel.

Watch a video: How to fully wash your hands

Step 2

Next wash the place where you're planning to inject. Use soap and water if possible. If you use swabs, use a swiping motion in just one direction.

Step 3

Always inject towards your heart, in other words in the same direction as your blood flow.

Put the needle into the vein at an angle (no more than 45 degrees) with the hole of the needle facing upwards. This helps to stop you going through the vein.

Step 4

Pull back the plunger and a little dark red blood should appear. This means you’re into a vein.

If no blood appears in the barrel: you’re not in the vein – pull the needle out, take the tourniquet off (if you're using one) and apply pressure with a clean tissue or cotton wool. Then try injecting somewhere else.

If the blood is bright red or gushing: you’ve probably hit an artery – pull the needle out and apply pressure with a clean tissue or cotton wool.

Step 5

Loosen the tourniquet (if you’re using one) and gently push the plunger.

Step 6

Pull the needle out in the same direction you put it in.

Step 7

Apply pressure for a couple of minutes with a clean tissue or cotton wool.

Do not use a swab: this can stop the blood from clotting and increase bleeding.

If you miss the vein (missed hit)

If you miss a vein, you may feel some pain and swelling where you’ve injected.

Missing the vein raises the risk of an infection. Get some medical advice if the area gets hot, painful, swollen, red or dark (depending on your skin colour).

Avoid flushing

Flushing is when you pull blood back into the syringe and mix it with the drugs.

It’s best to avoid it because it causes more damage to your veins. You won’t get anything extra out of the syringe either.