Why You Should Never Share Needles or Tourniquets

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

The United States has seen a huge increase in the number of people abusing heroin. With that increase, there has been a subsequent rise in people injecting drugs and sharing needles.

While needle sharing is known to cause serious health hazards, research shows that the sharing of additional drug paraphernalia can be just as dangerous. Other items that are being shared include cookers, filters, sterile water, ascorbic acid and tourniquets.

When drugs are used intravenously, they are directly introduced to the blood stream, achieving a faster and more potent high. Multiple long-term health complications are associated with IV drug use, including skin abscesses, infectious diseases, and heart complications.

Sharing Needles and More

Needles are one of the most commonly shared drug supplies among users. Transmission of the AIDS virus-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-among intravenous drug abusers most often occurs when they share drug injection equipment. Contaminated blood left in syringes or needles can carry the virus from person to person. Hepatitis C is also a common result of needle sharing.

IV drug users share more than needles. In fact, several other supplies are required to prepare drugs like heroin or oxycontin for injection. A study of 145 IV drug users in Ontario found that sharing cookers (containers used to mix and cook drugs) is a serious problem. Out of the 145 participants in the study, 45 percent admitted that they gave their cookers to someone else to use, compared to the 36 percent who admitted to sharing needles. What’s more, 37 percent of the group reported that they had re-used someone else’s cooker.

Out of the 145 participants in the study, 45 percent admitted that they gave their cookers to someone else to use, compared to the 36 percent who admitted to sharing needles.

People who inject drugs tend to retain and reuse cookers much longer than they reuse needles, filters, or rinse water. In fact, even when a sterile needle is used to inject drugs, most users admit to sharing cookers. Experts now believe that cookers can contribute to the spread of infectious disease, thanks to small amounts of blood left behind.

Other commonly used IV drug supplies can also spread disease and infection. Items shared include filters, ascorbic acid, sterile water, and alcohol swabs. Even tourniquets can contribute to the transmission of disease, with studies showing the devices to be a source of exposure to blood-borne pathogens.

Photo Source: istock

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