Skip to main content

How to use drugs more safely during coronavirus

We're working hard to make sure we continue to provide help and support to anyone experiencing issues with drugs during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

But there’s also plenty you can do yourself to make sure you are using drugs more safely during the outbreak.

If you have coronavirus symptoms

If you're registered with one of our services and develop symptoms of coronavirus, please don’t come into the service but do contact us to let us know.

Symptoms include:

  • a high temperature
  • you’ve started coughing repeatedly
  • loss of your sense of taste or smell

If you have these symptoms, government advice is to get tested as soon as possible. If you need us, we’ll continue to support you online or by phone during this time.

See more NHS advice about coronavirus.

Wash your hands often

Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.

Use hand sanitiser gel or alcohol wipes if soap and water aren’t available.

Prepare your drugs yourself

Prepare your own drugs, washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water before and after. Use hand sanitiser gel if you haven’t got access to soap and water.

After you wash your hands, clean your prep surface with an alcohol wipe or hand sanitiser gel.

If you can’t prepare your own drugs, get the person preparing them to wash their hands thoroughly, and to clean up before and after.

Don’t share drugs or equipment

The coronavirus can be spread by sharing e-cigarettes, pipes, bongs or joints, or nasal tubes, such as straws.

If you have to share, wipe down the mouthpieces with an alcohol swab before sharing or use separate mouthpieces.

Put used smoking, snorting, and injecting equipment in a sharps bin so everyone knows they are used.

If you're on regular medication

If you have hep C or HIV, or have a weakened immune system for any other reason, it’s particularly important to remember to take all your medicines daily.

Speak to your pharmacist or clinic and remember to order your repeats.

If you’re on hep C treatment, talk to your nurse or chat to us online – our online team can help with any queries about blood borne viruses like hep B, hep C and HIV.

Make sure you have enough equipment for injecting

Work with your local service or pharmacy to make sure you have enough syringes and injecting equipment for at least two weeks. There's still plenty of stock available.

Prepare for a drug shortage

Be mindful that, when there is a shortage, the quality of drugs can be affected and there may be more impurities.

Be careful with your dose. Start with a low dose and give the drug time to take effect before redosing.

Remember you only need a tiny amount of acidifier. Ideally use Vit C instead of citric and remember there will always be some impurities that don’t dissolve.

Watch a video on how much citric to use.

If you’re on a prescription

Speak to your local service or GP and ask how they plan to make sure there are no interruptions in your prescriptions.

Ask about their emergency plans for patients too (consultations over the phone, Whatsapp and so on).

We want to reassure you that we’re liaising with pharmacies regularly and looking at ways to make sure your supply isn’t interrupted.

Think about the amount of drugs you carry

The law is still the same. If you’re stopped by police, be mindful that carrying larger amounts of drugs means you’re likely to get a more serious charge. It may also make you more of a target to others.

Coping with withdrawals

You might not be able to get hold of your usual drug during the coronavirus outbreak. Plan ahead and think about what other medicines could help if this happens.

For example, if you use heroin or another opioid, consider buying over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol and Imodium to ease withdrawal symptoms.

Chat to us online if you need more advice on easing withdrawal symptoms.

Be aware that sex can spread the virus

Coronavirus can be spread by close contact like coughing, kissing or any other direct body contact. If you’re doing sex work, try to have as little close contact as possible and make sure you use condoms.

See more information on sex and the coronavirus.

Plan ahead for OD

Load up on naloxone. You can get this from your local needle exchange or drug and alcohol service.

If you’re using with other people, make an OD plan with them and take it in turns to use if possible.

Watch a video on how to inject naloxone (Prenoxad).

For more support

You’ll find the contact details for our local services through our service finder.

Or you can chat to someone and get advice online (please note that our online team can’t make or change appointments or organise prescriptions for you).

You can also read advice on our website.