Author: Don Stader, M.D
- It is important for providers to know how to use IV drugs properly so that they can instruct their patients on how to avoid injury. Heroin use is increasing.
- Hepatitis, HIV and infection are possible complications of improper IV drug use
- The first step of heroin use is to dissolve the solid heroin in water using heat – a spoon and lighter are often used for this step. Next, the heroin is drawn into the syringe through a filter (cotton is often used).
- Heroin concentration often varies widely – counsel patients to test their heroin first.
- Sterility of the needle, water, cooker, cotton and syringe is paramount. Refer patients to a needle exchange program where they can get clean supplies.
- Hepatitis C can live outside the body for 4 days – NEVER share ANY supplies.
- Sterile procedure is important – needles should not be licked.