People who inject drugs are at high risk for a variety of infections. Certain practices can significantly reduce the risk but are unlikely to eliminate them entirely.


Ultimate goal: Cessation of substance abuse before an irreversible disorder develops.


Some infections occurring in parenteral drug users:

(1) HIV

(2) viral hepatitis C

(3) viral hepatitis B

(4) a variety of nasty bacterial infections with cellulitis

(5) tuberculosis


Steps to reduce risk of infectious complications:

(1) Never reuse or share syringes, water or drug preparation equipment.

(2) Only use syringes obtained from a reliable source.

(3) Use a new, sterile syringe to prepare and inject drugs.

(4) If possible use sterile water to prepare drugs. If sterile water is not available, use clean water from a reliable source such as a fresh water tap or bottle water.

(5) Use a new or disinfected container and a new filter to prepare drugs each time.

(6) Clean the injection site with a new alcohol swab before each injection.

(7) Safely dispose of the syringe after a single use.


The container used for drug preparation ("cooker") can be disinfected in a number of ways:

(1) washing with dilute Clorox (sodium hypochlorite) solution then rinsing with clean water

(2) boiling in clean water

(3) heating in an oven (not a good idea for plastic)


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