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Help to stay safe

There is never a safe level of drug use, whether you are using illegal drugs or ‘legal highs’. You can never tell exactly what a drug contains or what effect it will have, and this can put you at risk.

There are, however, some things you can do to minimise the risk of harm to yourself and others when using drugs.

1.     Know the risks

The risks associated with drug use are dependent on what you’re taking, how much you use, how strong it is, how often you use it and how it’s taken. It’s smart to be aware of the risks so you can protect yourself and have fun.

The risks are different for different drugs, so these are some broad guidelines. You can get info on specific substances here.

2.     Plan your use to reduce the risk

It is always important to take care of yourself so you can enjoy life, friends, family, work or study. Remember, before and after a big night out:

  • Drink plenty of water or juice
  • Eat healthy food (Carbohydrates are particularly good before a night out)
  • Rest and relax
  • And make sure you plan your way home!

If you are using:

  • Don’t use alone! It’s best to use with someone you know and trust, that way you can help each other if something unexpected happens.
  • Write your substance of choice and dosage on your hand, just in case you’re found in a state.
  • Have some money and a charged mobile phone on hand in case of an emergency.
  • If you’ve had a break for a while you might have a reduced or low tolerance, so if you must use, USE LESS.
  • Polydrug use (mixing drugs) puts you at much higher risk of overdose. It’s best to pick one substance at a time and stick with it.
  • If you’re trying something new, ask about what the effects are, how it’s used and what the come down is like, so you know what you’re in for.
  • When you’re trying something new, use are really small amount to start with and give it time to kick in, as you don’t know how it might affect you.
  • Keep it under control. If you find your use escalating take a break, your body and mind will thank you.
  • If you’re not in a good head space, feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, using drugs can make it feel worse, so it might be better to choose another time.
  • Make sure you have clean equipment, to reduce the spread of infection, including pipes, straws/notes, spoons and filters.
  • If you have sex, be sure to use a condom and water-based lube.
  • Before taking pills, check websites such as www.pillreports.net for reports of dodgy substances. Better yet sign up to SMART’s Beacon!

 3.     If you’re injecting…

Remember, injecting is the most dangerous way of using drugs, so choosing another way is always better.

If you are going to inject, the best place to get good advice is your local needle exchange, who can help you to choose the needle that is best for you.

Here are some of the basics for staying safe:

  • Always use clean works – you can pick up clean needles, filters and stericups from your needle exchange and many pharmacies
  • Always use easily identifiable equipment (e.g. mark or burn your syringe if using in a group)
  • Always use low dead space injecting equipment
  • Wash your hands, and the site before you inject
  • Take your time
  • Always inject yourself
  • Rotate your injecting sites regularly, and don’t use a site if it’s sore or swollen
  • Never share your works with someone else, not even your partner
  • Always inject in the direction of your heart
  • Use citric acid (Vit C). This is much safer than lemon or vinegar – pick it up from your local needle exchange

You can also download the safer injecting guide here.