The best way to avoid harm through drug use is to not use at all, however if you are going to use drugs there are some ways in which you might be able to minimise harm from them.

Smoke, sniff or take drugs orally instead of injecting them. Using needles not only increases the risk of overdose, but it can also cause damage to your skin and veins. If you use needles to inject make sure they have not been used by anyone else as this could spread diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. The same goes for other equipment you use to inject – spoons, filters and water you use to flush the barrel out. You can access clean needles from local drug services and some pharmacies. Think about finding out the nearest Needle Exchange Scheme to you.

Find your nearest needle exchange

Try to take drugs with someone else there, ideally someone you can trust to look after you if things go wrong.

If you buy from a new dealer try a small amount of the drug at a time, which will allow you to test the strength of the drug and not take too much which could result in an overdose.

Take days off from using if you can so that you give your body time to recover.

Start slow and go slow, especially if you are taking a drug you have never used before. Take a small amount at first and allow the effects to reach their peak to test how strong it is.

Try to eat well and drink plenty of water so that you don’t become malnourished or dehydrated.

Access Hepatitis C and HIV testing through our service or your local sexual health clinic. Earlier detection of the viruses means quicker treatment.

We strongly recommend that you have a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations which can be given to you by us, your GP or local sexual health clinic.

It may be useful to think about having Hepatitis A vaccinations via your GP.

When coming down off drugs try to avoid using other drugs to help this come down as they can prolong it and sometimes even lead to overdose. Some people experience suicidal thoughts / feelings after drug use, especially after a binge. If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, make sure you talk to someone like a GP, key worker or mental health service.