With the increased use of crystal in our community there are anecdotal reports of more people experimenting with injecting. Although smoking is often the preferred route of administration, some crystal users want to experiment with what many see as the most full-on form of drug use -“ injecting.

In the gay community there are few taboos. One of the reasons why so many researchers access our community is that we are very open about many of our behaviours. However, injecting appears to be the exception to that rule.

There is very little open discussion about injecting practices. In fact, the first campaign aimed at gay men who injected drugs was incredibly controversial, with some members of the community criticising ACON for highlighting the issue. Why then does injecting elicit such strong feelings and is it really at the end of the line of drug use?

At the onset of any discussion around injecting it needs to be said that normal barriers that protect the body from micro-organisms, like the skin, are bypassed when you inject. As a result, infections may result when non-sterile needles and/or solutions are used.

That is why drug users who share needles and syringes are at greater risk of infection of hepatitis, HIV and other blood-borne diseases.

There are three main routes of injection: subcutaneous, intramuscular and intravenous.

Subcutaneous is also known as skin-popping and involves injecting the drug under the skin. This method requires the least technical skill and is commonly used by new injectors.

As it takes longer for the drug to take effect by this method we usually find that it is not the preferred route for older, more experienced users.

However, when veins become harder to access, often through regular use, people may return to skin popping.

Intramuscular injecting involves deeper penetration of the drug into the body tissue. The drug is injected directly into the muscle mass, where it is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Anabolic steroids are injected in this manner. Many believe this to be the most painful method of injecting and the risks of infection and localised tissue damage are quite high.

Mainlining or intravenous injection involves injecting the drug directly into the vein. It is one of the fastest ways of getting the effect of the drug but requires the most skill.

Research shows that if you inject a drug you are more likely to use more. By doing so you can build up a tolerance much faster and risk becoming dependent.

Some injectors will tell you that it’s easier and cleaner than snorting, that your nose doesn’t hurt and that the rush is more intense. Some of this may be true, but there are risks with injecting and you should be aware of these before you make the decision to start.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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