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How to raise a vein

These simple tips and techniques can help you raise a vein before you inject.

Do

  • Drink plenty of water – staying hydrated helps boost your blood circulation
  • Get yourself warm – wrap up in lots of layers, have a hot meal, walk around for a bit or have a warm shower
  • Soak wherever you’re injecting in warm water – do this for a few minutes, or run warm water over it. Do not inject in the bath. If you’re injecting downers you may fall asleep, while injecting cocaine in the bath raises your risk of heart problems
  • Do some exercise – try running or jumping on the spot or doing some arm curls with a dumbbell or can of food

If you’re injecting into your arm you can:

  • Wrap a warm towel around your hand and arm – or hold a warm flannel against the vein you’re going to use
  • Let your arm hang down – slowly clench and unclench your hand
  • Swing your arm around in a big circle like a windmill – this helps more blood flow into your arm

Don't

  • Do not slap your veins – gently tapping or stroking them for about 20-30 seconds will help them stand out
  • Do not smoke cigarettes or vape just before you inject – nicotine makes your veins (and arteries) narrower

Using a tourniquet (tying off)

A tourniquet is a band or strap you fasten round your arm to slow down the blood flow.

You'll only need to use one if you're having trouble raising a vein.

If you do use a tourniquet, first make sure you can release it quickly and easily.

To use a tourniquet safely:

  • Dangle your arm down and open and close your hand a few times
  • Fasten the tourniquet around your upper arm. It should be tight enough to slow down your blood flow but not stop it completely
  • Lift your arm back up and find a vein
  • Unfasten the tourniquet once you’re sure the needle is in your vein and before you start injecting. If you don’t, you risk tearing the vein
  • If you’re having trouble raising a vein, undo the tourniquet and start again. Do not leave it on for too long
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