When snorting drugs, microscopic amounts of blood can pass from one irritated or raw nose to another. Hepatitis C can spread when people share objects used for snorting like rolled up bank notes, straws or ‘bullets’. Avoid sharing anything used for snorting. Bank notes should be avoided as they may have been used for snorting before and could be contaminated. Post-it notes (a fresh one for each person) are a safe alternative.
After snorting, rinsing what’s left of the drug out the nostril cuts the risk of it damaging the inside of the nose.
If someone has a cold sore on their lip sharing joints, pipes, bongs or cigarettes can spread the herpes virus. The same goes for syphilis if they have a chancre sore on their lips or in their mouth. But the main risk of serious infection from hepatitis C or possibly HIV comes when pipes are shared to smoke crack cocaine and infected blood from broken or bleeding lips and mouths gets on the pipe. Lips can be protected by wrapping a rubber band around the end of the pipe and sharing pipes should be avoided.
If a drug is being squirted into the arse using a syringe with the needle taken off, there is less chance of passing on HIV or other blood borne infections like hepatitis C even if these needle-less syringes are shared. That’s because, unlike injecting into a vein, there’s no contact with a needle contaminated with blood.
But putting a needle-less syringe inside one arse after it’s been up another has some risk of passing infected blood from one damaged arse to another. It also gives a way into the arse for more easily transmitted infections like warts, gonorrhoea, syphilis or herpes so needle-less syringes shouldn’t be shared. A clean one for each arse is needed or the syringe should be thoroughly cleaned each time it’s used on a new person.
Injecting is the most dangerous way of taking drugs with risks that don’t exist or are much lower if you smoke or snort the drug. Risks include:
Injecting a drug gives a more intense hit, so is more likely to lead to addiction. Injecting drugs or steroids can also mean sharing equipment like needles, syringes, spoons, water, filters and swabs. This is the most efficient way of spreading infections carried in blood such as HIV and hepatitis B and C and sometimes traces of blood may be too small to see.
This article was last reviewed on: 28/10/11
Date due for next review: 28/10/13