Information for injection drug users
What is muscling?
Muscling is when you inject into muscle instead of a vein. Most people muscle in the upper arms or legs.
What is skin-popping?
Skin-popping is when you inject between skin and fat layers. Also called "subcutaneous" or "sub-Q," it is injecting the drug just underneath the skin.
Why do people muscle or skin-pop?
Lots of reasons. Some people just don?t like to inject right into a vein. Others have a hard time hitting their veins. For some, trying to hit a vein gets so frustrating that they just give up and shoot anywhere they can. Some do it because drugs absorb more slowly this way. Muscling and skin-popping give you less of a "rush," but the effects of the drug may last longer. Some folks don?t care about the rush. They?re just trying to keep from getting dope sick. Finally, some people muscle or skin pop to reduce their risk for overdosing.
Use new clean equipment!
What are the harms of muscling and skin-popping?
All injectors are at risk for infections related to using needles. Muscling and skin-popping allow germs to "sit" inside muscle and fat tissue or under the skin. These are great places for abscesses and other infections to brew. Infections in these a reas can be very serious. They can also spread to the blood, bones, heart and other places in the body. Some of the worst infections include wound botulism, tetanus (also called "lockjaw") and necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh eating disease"). If not treated quickly, these and other infections can become life-threatening and result in death.
Is shooting into a vein safer than muscling or skin-popping?
No. All three have serious risks. All three put you at g reat risk for blood-borne infections like HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Although muscling and skin-popping may cause more abscesses and skin infections, shooting into a vein may be more likely to cause serious long-term illnesses like endocarditis. This is an infection of the heart valves. It can do permanent damage to your heart. It can also kill you. Injecting into a vein also increases your risk of dying from an overdose. This is because the dope gets to your heart, brain and other organs much quicker than if you muscle or skin-pop.
Wash your hands and skin!
Use plenty of hot soapy water! Follow up with alcohol pads!
If you skin-pop:
If you muscle:
How to clean the injection site
How to reduce your risk
Whether you inject into muscle, a vein, or under the skin, it is always important to use sterile equipment. If you don't have sterile equipment, use bleach to clean all of your works before you use them again. Muscling and skin-popping do not lower your risk of infection. But here are 8 ways to reduce your risks:
Hard-to-hit veins? Abscesses?
Talk to our abscess and vein care specialist at the needle exchange. Get expert advice and helpful hints to reduce your risk of getting nasty abscesses and life-threatening infections. Ask Needle Exchange staff for times and locations. Or visit the new medical clinic at the downtown needle exchange. The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Walk-ins welcome. Click here for the current Needle Exchange schedule.
|All information is general in nature and is not intended to be used as a substitute for appropriate professional advice. For more information please call (206) 296-4600 (voice/TDD).
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