Dope for Dummies: New York Distributes Guide on How To Best Shoot Herion

New York officials are under fire this week for spending $32,000 on a guidebook for heroin users on how to shoot up.

The useful guide offers such advice as: “Warm your body (jump up and down) to show your veins,” and “find your vein before you try to inject.”
Other tips include: “Only ‘boot’ once or twice in one shot.”

The manual is the work of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which printed about 70,000 copies of the handout to promote safe practices. In defense of these officials, the guide (here) does include a great deal of health information on seeking medical assistance and being treated for AIDS and Hepatitis.

It also includes the following suggested tips:

•Shoot correctly to avoid infection and collapsed veins.
•Don’t blunt your needle by poking a hole in your sterile water container.
•Warm your body (jump up and down) to show your veins.
•Find the vein beforeyou try to inject. Tie off to make your veins visible.
•Don’t “dig” for veins. If you don’t “register,” pull out and try again.
•Don’t always inject in the same spot.
•Only “boot” once or twice in one shot.

Of course, I could barely make it through the movie Trainspotting because I am a wimp. Then again, if only the characters in Pulp Fiction had an easy to read pamphlet on an adrenaline shot:

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13 thoughts on “Dope for Dummies: New York Distributes Guide on How To Best Shoot Herion”

  1. I don’t see a problem with the guide. Junkies are going to shoot up anyway. They might as well learn how to do it safely.

  2. It’s the difference between treating drug use as a medical issue and not a law enforcement issue. I agree with the previous posters, treat it like the medical issue it is.

  3. They do this in Amsterdam and it helped reduce their inner city crime rates.

    Besides. Given the laundry list of devastating “side effects” of most the major pharmacutical companies offerings these days I’m having a hard time seeing any problem here.

  4. Tom,

    I considered your design and distribution arguments, but the existence of other cheaper alternatives (like self design using FOSS programs) could and should have lowered the design costs. The information is the most important part of the document, not how pretty it is (although I will stipulate “pretty sells”).

    Distribution? Eh, a little more tricky, but how much does it cost to deliver it electronically to the distribution points electronically and print in B&W on demand? A whole lot less is my guess.

  5. Harm reduction – it just makes good financial sense: If you want to be a cold bean counter, look at the cost of the pamphlet ($32,000*) versus the cost to the NY Public Health department and the area public hospitals of treating someone with an infection, or someone who “caught” AIDS/Hepatitis, or an ER visit having OD’d, or the cost of collecting and burying the corpse of someone who OD’d. If this pamphlet helps to avoid a few of these expenses to the NY area governments, then it was a good investment. (On top of that, there’s the high likelihood that it will reduce human suffering and death, which is pretty much priceless.)

    What’s wrong with us that this example of “good sense”, low-cost harm reduction is newsworthy?

    (* That cost likely includes the fees to actually design and prepare the pamphlet for printing and web distribution, in addition to the actual cost of printing.)

  6. Mike,

    Thanks for that little bomb of information. I had no idea that the success rate in that “business” was so low. Wow. That’s probably not much better, if at all, than just going cold turkey on your own. Sad.

  7. There was a time in my life, after my parents died, when I hung out with a gang of street fighters in NYC. It was strange since I was in college at the time and these were all high school dropouts. They introduced me to many illegal drugs but I drew my own line at heroin because I watched people shooting up and for the life of me couldn’t get the reason anyone would want to do that….it hurts.

    Later in my career I did extensive work with addicts who used needles for their highs, whether heroin, speed or coke. Many of these people were quite intelligent and I could see them reading a pamphlet of helpful hints.

    The real villain here is our phony “War on Drugs” which treats what is a psychological problem as a criminal one. Addicts, particularly those that inject, are people with severe psychological disorders. The drug(s) of choice are the symptoms of underlying problems and yet even most of the so called “treatment programs” treat the symptom and not the disease. One can be addicted to almost anything and if that “thing” is destructive to ones life, then it indicates psychic malfunction that requires treatment. Unfortunately, an entire addiction industry has sprung up with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, even if its success rate is only 15 to 20%.

  8. Speaking as someone who, unfortunately, knows an addict, I can just say that this booklet is probably the best use of monies targeted to fight heroin addiction – because the only way I know of to stop a junkie from shooting up or scoring heroin is to kill them. Nothing else works.

  9. I’d like to know why they paid $2.19 a piece for something that could have been photocopied for $.05 a piece.

  10. Given what a big success enforcement stratgeies have been (not) in the drug war, this attempt at building hysteria is the only card they’ve got. Harm reduction startegies have a long history of reducing HIV and viral hepatitis infectionand not increasing injection drug use.

  11. Oh I am wincing, I do not like needles. I do not like the thought of needles. All’s I can hear is Damage Done by Neil Young.

    I would like to hear Mike S’s stance on this. However, I can see the need to educate, but do you really think that the same folks doing this will take time to read this? 70K copies? NYC?


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