Using Drugs

If you use drugs, please make sure to stay informed to keep yourself safe and healthy during the pandemic. The infographic below (developed by INPUD | International Network of People Who Use Drugs) provides very valuable tips which we strongly advise you to consider:

If you have difficulty reading the text in the infographic, below is a transcription of the content:

COVID-19 Harm Reduction Tips for People Who Use Drugs:

Don’t Share:

Pipes, Bongs, Vapes or Joints, nasal tubes and all injecting equipment including: sterilized water, cookers, filters, wipes, ties, etc.

On Opioid Agonist Therapy?

If you are on OAT, ask your doctor if you can get an extended prescription for 1 month. Ask if you can skip appointments and urine testing for at least one month.

Stock-up on Drug-using Equipment/Materials:

Get enough to last you at least 3-4 weeks (longer if you are high risk for infection and if programs can manage it), this includes Naloxone.

Wash Your Hands:

With soap and hot water vigorously for at least 20 seconds (but longer if you can) every time you come into contact with others, after handling money and after you get your drugs. Paper towels are preferred for drying hands, or at least use a clean towel.

Prepare Your Drugs Yourself:

Ensure that you don’t touch or handle other people’s equipment/drugs and don’t let them touch yours.

Avoid Putting Drug Bags/Wraps in Your Mouth, Vagina or Anus:

If you must carry it in your body, clean vigorously with an alcohol-based cleanser both before you put it in and after you take it out. If carried in your mouth, use an alcohol-based mouthwash afterwards.

Be Prepared to Go Through Involuntary Withdrawal:

If your supplier(s) get sick, have back-up plans and make sure you have all the necessary medications, food and drinks you will need to detox off opiates. Similar steps can be taken by those with habit to other drugs.

Additional Tips from HIM:

Don’t Use Alone:

Using while isolated greatly increases your risk of fatal overdose. If you need to use while alone, consider calling a friend or relative to act as a drug spotter over the phone. Make sure to give them your location first.

Drug Checking at Home:

Fentanyl test strips are used to test for the presence of fentanyl within a substance and can be used at home or outside of an OPS site. It’s not a perfect test – it won’t tell you the concentration of fentanyl or the other substances in your drugs – and we recommend that you follow other harm reduction tips too (ex. start low, go slow; never use alone; and, get checked at an OPS site). You can get trained and pick up test strips from approved VCH sites, like HIM’s Davie St Health Centre.

Immune Response

Substance use affects your body’s immune system and puts you at a greater risk during the covid-19 health crisis. Caring for your health is especially critical now to avoid becoming sick.

Develop a Safety Plan:

If you plan to stock up on substances (including alcohol) to avoid withdrawal, develop a safety plan with a trusted friend, relative, or partner to make sure that you don’t binge on your substances. Do you need to portion out your substances? Leave them with a partner? Record the amount you use per hour or day? Binging could lead to a fatal overdose or it may leave you feeling dopesick tomorrow. Remind yourself why you stocked up: not for a party today, but to last you the next few weeks.