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Artifact: Using Heroin Safely

Findings from the streets, files, and hard drives of New York.

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Among the losers in the city’s new $300 million–smaller budget are the 37 sites that distribute clean needles and other paraphernalia to help prevent overdoses and the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C; their budgets will shrink by 30 percent. Below, a clean-injection kit and syringe (which can be used for heroin, cocaine, meth—basically, anything that can be mixed with water) from Housing Works’ Harm Reduction Place on Crosby Street.

1. Clean Bottle for mixing water and bleach.

2. Bleach to disinfect used syringes when a clean one isn’t available.

3. Bandages to help avoid infection after injecting.

4. Sterile water to mix the drug with.

5. Tourniquet to “tie off” above the injection site.

6. Bottle cap for mixing water with the drug before it’s drawn up into the syringe (commonly called “cooker”).

7. Cotton balls to trap dirt and debris as the drug, mixed in water, is pulled into the syringe.

8. Syringes don’t come inside the kit but are provided at distribution sites.

9. Step-by-step injection instructions that come in English and Spanish.

10. Alcohol swabs to clean the injection site before insertion.


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