Drugs and drug use
Injecting means administering drugs using a needle and syringe into a vein (intravenous), into a muscle (intramuscular), or under the skin (subcutaneous).
Injecting drugs (like heroin and cocaine) is very risky. There's a higher risk of overdose if drugs are injected. It can lead to:
When using injecting equipment, the following steps may help you stay safer:
Sterile supplies of injecting equipment are available from IEPs or can be bought online.
If you can’t get new equipment, as a last resort, make sure existing injecting equipment is cleaned using the three-container method.
Information on the three-container method and how to clean injecting equipment can be found in the Scottish Drug Forum's leaflet: Do you Inject Drugs?.
The Scottish Drug Forum's video on cleaning injecting equipment may also be helpful.
To reduce the risk of harm when injecting drugs, try the following advice:
There are many signs of an infection, including a wound that is:
If you think your wound is getting worse, draw a circle around it and watch it closely.
In an emergency call 999 or visit A&E.
You can get dressings free at your local pharmacy under minor ailments. If it’s possible, stock up from your local pharmacy or at healthcare appointments.
To care for your wound:
Further information on preventing bacterial infections and wound hygiene is available from the Scottish Drugs Forum.
The risk of overdose is higher if injecting drugs. Always carry naloxone.
Naloxone is a medicine that can temporarily reverse the effect of an opioid overdose.
Further information on overdose and naloxone.
Public Health Scotland - Opens in new browser window
01 December 2022
Don’t include personal information e.g. name, location or any personal health conditions.