METH and YOUR VEINS
If you inject, you know how important healthy veins are. But crystal meth can actually change and cause serious damage to your veins. Here's how:
Crystal meth causes veins to tighten and shrink. So do tobacco, cocaine, soda pop, chocolate, coffee, and black tea. Each of these substances contains stimulants that send your body into action mode. Because your heart has to work harder, your veins actively shrink to squeeze more blood towards the heart.
When veins shrink, they are harder to find, stick, and inject. This could lead to misses, vein damage, and abscesses. Smaller veins also restrict blood flow and increase blood pressure.
Crystal meth is a toxic chemical. It can burn and eat away at delicate vein tissue. With frequent injection, vein tissue becomes inflamed and breaks down. This can cause scarring, abscesses, and collapsed veins. The chemicals in crystal meth can also make abscesses worse if you skin pop or have a miss.
Tips for Happier, Healthier Veins
- The best way to protect your veins is to stop injecting crystal. If this is not a realistic option for you, try cutting back on your injection use. Give your veins extended breaks from those toxic chemicals and frequent puncture damage. Your veins will be sure to last longer that way.
- Good hydration is essential! Water is your best friend when it comes to veins! Drink at least 8 glasses each day. Fruit juice (100% juice, not juice "drinks") and sports drinks like Gatorade are also good choices.
- Drink less coffee, caffeinated soda, and alcohol - these make your body lose more fluid than it takes in.
- Cut down on cigarettes, especially 1-2 hours before getting high. Nicotine shrinks veins.
When getting high:
Before you inject, try to make your veins expand as much as possible. When veins expand, or dilate, they are more visible. Veins you can see are easier and safer to hit. Dilated veins also allow more blood to flow, so your rush may feel smoother.
Remember . . . if you are already high, your veins will be smaller than when you first shot up. So getting a good hit when you're already tweaked is going to be more difficult than your first hit.
So, before you inject - Pump Up Those Veins!!
- Use a tourniquet. If you don't have a rubber tourniquet, use a clean bandanna, necktie, or belt.
- Take a hot shower. Or place a hot, wet washcloth on the injection area for 5-10 minutes. The temperature increase will help your veins expand and rise to the surface.
- Swing your arm around like a propeller.
- Do some push-ups. This is quick and really works!
Other vein care tips:
- Rotate your injection sites. Each time you shoot up, move at least one inch from your previous hit. Better yet, move to a different site altogether. Sticking to your favorite "know-how-to-hit" spot is a sure way to cause that vein to scar or collapse.
- Clean your injection area thoroughly with hot water and soap. Then wipe the site with a fresh alcohol pad. A good wash with soap followed by an alcohol pad will cut down on bacteria that can lead to abscesses, endocarditis, and other infections.
Some of my veins are already damaged - will they heal?
They can, if you give them a chance. First, stop injecting into damaged veins to avoid any more puncture trauma. You also want to give surrounding tissues a rest. You may be able to speed the healing process by rubbing Vitamin E oil or aloe vera gel on the damaged site each day. Many users swear by this, although it requires daily attention and a little patience.
Vein or abscess problems? Visit the medical clinic at the downtown needle exchange. Open M-F, 1:30-4:30pm. Walk-ins welcome.