Visiting a needle exchange
Anyone who injects drugs can get free, new equipment (kit or works) from a needle exchange.
Using new, sterile injecting equipment helps keep you safe from infections, wounds and abscesses.
It protects you from viruses like HIV, hep B and hep C.
It's OK to use a needle exchange if you're registered with a drug and alcohol service. It won't affect your treatment in any way.
Where can I find a needle exchange?
Needle exchanges (also known as needle and syringe programmes) are usually in drug and alcohol services. Other places like pharmacies and hostels sometimes give out equipment as well.
You can get new equipment wherever you see this sign:
You don't need an appointment. You can just walk into any needle exchange and get what you need.
Please wear a mask or face covering when you come in. If you don’t have any, speak to staff and they can provide one.
What happens when you visit
When you visit a needle exchange you’ll be able to talk to a trained member of staff in a private room.
They’ll ask you for some basic information, such as your name and date of birth, and ask you what you need.
If you don’t want to give your full name you can give your initials instead.
They’ll also ask if you have any used equipment to return.
Needle exchange staff encourage everyone to return used equipment so that they can dispose of it safely.
You can still pick up new stuff if you haven’t got any used equipment to bring back.
Will you tell anyone that I’ve been to a needle exchange?
We won’t tell anyone else that you've been to the needle exchange. Anything you tell us is confidential.
The only time we’ll share your information with someone else is if we’re seriously worried about your safety or someone else’s.
What can I get from a needle exchange?
You can get new equipment free, whatever kind of drug you’re injecting, including anabolic steroids.
Let staff know what you’re using and they’ll make sure you get the right equipment.
You can get:
- needles (pins)
- syringes (barrels)
- spoons (cookers)
- citric or vitamin C
You should be able to take away as much stuff as you need.
What else can a needle exchange help with?
Advice about safer injecting – the staff in needle exchanges are experts in safer injecting. You can ask them about caring for wounds, avoiding infections and anything else to do with injecting.
Scripts – if you’re using an opiate drug like heroin you can talk to staff about getting a script for methadone or buprenorphine so that you can detox or maintain.
Blood tests – you can get tested for viruses that are spread through blood like HIV, hep B and hep C.
Vaccinations – you can get vaccinated against hep B.
Naloxone – needle exchange staff can advise you on preventing overdose. They can give you a free naloxone injection (Prenoxad) or nasal spray (Nyxoid) and train you how to use them. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioid drugs like heroin, morphine and methadone.
Access to other services – staff can help you find other support, including drug treatment and advice on sexual health, housing and legal matters.
If you want more information about visiting a needle exchange, you can chat to us online.