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Safer ways to use heroin (H, brown)

Using heroin is never completely safe but you can reduce the risks by not injecting.

It may take a little longer to get your hit but you’ll avoid injecting risks like collapsed veins, scarring and infections.

You may be looking for alternatives to injecting if you:

  • are starting to use again after a break
  • can’t get into a vein
  • want to give your veins a rest
  • have got a blocked needle
  • haven’t got clean equipment
  • want to lower your risk of overdose (going over)
  • want to lower your risk of infections like HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B

Here are some other methods you could try.

Smoke (chase) it

Smoking heroin gives you the most similar high to injecting.

Any kind of heroin can be smoked apart from white powder heroin. This doesn’t burn as well as other kinds of heroin.

You need a small square of foil and a straw (tooter) to inhale the vapour through.

Watch a video: How to make a foil straw

Step 1

Put some folds into your square foil (this helps it to hold the bead of liquid heroin better).

Step 2

Put a small amount of heroin on the foil.

Step 3

Hold the foil in one hand and, with the straw in your mouth, heat the foil from below with a lighter until the heroin turns into a bead of liquid.

Keep the foil and the bead gently moving – the idea is to melt the heroin not burn it up.

Step 4

Chase the moving bead with the straw, inhaling the vapour as it appears.

Things to bear in mind

Always stick to your own straw – sharing can spread infections.

Heroin is a cough suppressant. This means you’re more likely to get chest infections. If this happens try switching to another method, such as snorting, for a while.

Put it up your bum

The inside of your bum (anus) has a good blood supply. That means anything you put up there gets into your bloodstream quickly.

To take heroin via your bum:

  1. Get it ready in the barrel as though you were going to inject
  2. Take the needle off (important!)
  3. Lie on your side, put the tip of the barrel about an inch into your bum and push the plunger
  4. Stay lying down for about 10 minutes

Snort (sniff) it

To snort heroin:

  1. Roll up a piece of paper or card into a straw
  2. Put a small amount of heroin onto a smooth, clean surface
  3. Chop it with a clean razor blade or knife to get rid of any lumps
  4. Use the razor blade or knife to make a short line of heroin
  5. Put one end of the straw into your nose then run the other end along the line and snort the heroin in one go

Things to bear in mind

Heroin can damage the inside of your nose. And because it’s a painkiller, you may not always notice.

You can help prevent damage by rinsing out your nose with warm salty water or using a saline nasal spray (available from pharmacies).

If your nose is painful or you’re getting lots of nosebleeds try a different method, such as smoking, for a while.