People who inject drugs must pay careful attention to avoid injecting into arteries and nerves. Drugs should only be injected into the veins.
Think of the body as a road map with a highway system all its own that sends blood to and from your body parts. The map is called the circulatory system and the roads are called arteries and veins. Arteries, which usually look red, carry blood away from the heart. Veins, which usually look blue, return blood to the heart.
You should never inject into an artery. If you happen to hit upon an artery by mistake, you will know if:
|... || ||The blood is foamy or frothy. |
| ||You have a lot of pain. |
| ||The blood gushes really strong into the syringe or spurts like a heartbeat. |
Digging around for veins may cause you to hit an artery and should be avoided. Don’t look for veins deep down because they can be found right on top.
If the needle hurts when you inject, you may have hit an artery or nerve. Do not continue the shot. It will be wasted anyway and could lead to serious infections or abscess.
Always depress the plunger slowly to make sure you’ve hit your mark. If you feel any pain, (like stinging) pull the needle out right away. Apply pressure to the spot and hold your arm or leg over your head. If you continue to bleed, call 911 or get some help.
It’s also helpful to try and get off in a place with good light where you won’t be hurried. An injector in a hurry is an injector at risk. Take the best care of yourself at all times.
In order to make veins more easily noticeable, pump them up. Push-ups or flexing your arm helps. Avoid drinking lots of coffee or smoking cigarettes before fixing because caffeine and nicotine shrink veins. Drink lots of water to enlarge and hydrate the veins. Fruit juice and sports drinks like Gatorade are also good choices.
With frequent injection, vein tissue becomes inflamed and breaks down. This can cause scarring, abscesses and collapsed veins.