Coronavirus COVID-19 Advice for everyone who is using drugs 

Advice for everyone who is using drugs  

COVID-19 (CoronavIrus Disease) was first identified in 2019. It affects your lungs and can cause severe breathing problems. The usual symptoms are having a cough, fever (high temperature) and shortness of breath, so this can make it difficult to tell apart from other viruses like the common cold or flu.

If you have a prescription for substance misuse treatment:

  • Check if there will be any changes to how you will receive your prescribed medication.
  • If you have to self-isolate, make sure you let the service know and keep in touch during this time.
  • Make sure that the service has up to date contact details for you.
  • Keep your medication in a locked container, ask the service for a safe storage box if you don’t have one.
  • If you are receiving a detox or dose reduction, this may be put on hold until the service can offer you the more frequent face to face reviews that would usually be required.
  • Exchange Supplies have kindly agreed us linking to their popular Detox Handbook. (The Detox Handbook gives you the basic information you need if you are coming off, or thinking about coming off, any of the opiate drugs such as heroin or methadone).
  • If you are unable to pick up your prescription from the chemist, you can nominate someone to do this for you. Ask the service for details.
  • It’s really important to take sensible precautions to keep yourself and others safe during this COVID-19 outbreak. Take a look at some short, helpful guidance from our Partners Humankind about keeping yourself safe HERE.

    To help stop the virus from spreading, it’s important to keep everything clean and to take extra care:

    • Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water (or alcohol gel when unavailable) before and after handling any drugs or drug using equipment
    • You could be more vulnerable to infection: if you smoke, you are more likely to have chest issues. If infected, you could struggle with inhaling substances. However, injecting is still a really big risk. Oral and anal are safer alternative ways of taking drugs.
    • Make sure you have a clean surface before you prepare your drugs.
      Don’t share from bags of drugs or drug paraphernalia like pipes, bongs, vapes, joints, snorting tubes or injecting equipment: colour coding may be useful.
    • Use new paraphernalia each time and make sure you know how to get access to new injecting equipment: avoid using things like cards, notes or keys which can harbour viruses and bacteria.
    • In case of accidental opioid overdose, make sure you have access to enough naloxone, ask the service for naloxone if you don’t have any.
    • Prepare your drugs yourself and avoid touching other people’s drugs or equipment.
    • If you have difficulty in getting hold of substances, ask for advice on how to reduce risks and how you can be supported and especially when self-reducing.
    • For every new supply, make sure you only try a small amount first, especially if using a new supplier or a supply that appears different.
      Before injecting, crush substances down as fine as possible before use to reduce damage to the body.
    • Keep all injection sites clean and try to rotate injection sites so that the area doesn’t get sore which makes it easier to get wound infections.
    • Stay well hydrated and eat nutritious meals regularly.

Key messages:

  • Keep using your needle exchange  it’s important to keep supplies of clean injecting equipment. Check any changes to opening times of your usual service. 
  • Naloxone– kits are available from your local drug and alcohol service and could save a life – please ask for one. 
  • Changes to supply – expect a change in the street drugs that you buy. They may be different to what you are used so take extra care, for example, test with small doses first.  
  • Safe storage – if you are storing more drugs- keep them out of sight and locked away from others. 
  • Online support groups – there are online support groups that can help for instance NA
  • You can access a powerful online support tool to help you change your behaviour with Breaking Free Online. Please ask for a free code to get you started.

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