A-Z of drug user specific health issues…
Here, BP takes a closer look at the kinds of health issues to affect drug users, from A to Z… carefully compiled by users, for users. Each article has been comprehensively researched and written for our magazine and reproduced here for your information.
Feel free to reproduce but please credit Black Poppy.
Each page has additional links on the subject when possible. Comments are welcome, especially regarding what sort of health issues you would like us to cover.
A to Z of Health
Abscesses: Find out more about the difference between ‘sterile’ and ‘infected’ abscesses as well as how to treat and prevent them. (from Issue 1, updated again in 2010, and 2015)
Anthrax: This is a quick link to the UK’s Health Protection Agency which complied information on the anthrax outbreak that occurred in Britain during 2010. Although the press releases are useful the advice to heroin users is rather lame. If we notice more anthrax over 2011 BP will compile more info for you. Updated 2015.
Avoiding Blood Borne Viruses – Tips From Your Peers; A very interesting piece of research from Sam Friedman et al, looking at those in our injecting communities who, after years – even decades of IV drug use, remain uninfected with Hepatitis C or HIV; what messages or tips can we take from our negative friends? How much is in our control and can we increase our chances to stay well?
Benefits: Essential information for ESA claims, assessments and appeals: Here is some exceptional information that will be very useful for British people who are on benefits and have been undergoing some very concerning pressure and irresponsible assessing from the governments new Benefits ‘bulldog’ ATOS, in the rush to get millions off benefits and into work
Cocaine: Harm Reduction Tips: For snorters, injectors, blowers, drinkers -how do you take yours? BP speaks to users and provides some good harm reduction tips for all types of cocaine users.
Constipation: Easy to digest information on constipation for drug users and how to deal with it, with some additional tips only other users could know. (issue 2 / updated 2011 and 2015)
Clostridium: Information on the bacterium Clostridium which was the culprit in dozens of deaths of injecting drug users over the last 10 years in particular and was the contaminate to watch before anthrax. Regularly popping up, it is worth knowing the signs and symptoms. (a BP website addition/updated 2011)
Deep Vein Thrombosis: (DVT) A serious condition that primarily affects medium to long term injectors, it can have serious, even fatal consequences. Much of its effcts however are made worse by people not knowing, or not understanding their symptoms and seeking help sooner. Check out this important info if you are worried by swelling or sore limbs. (issue 2)
Endocarditis: Both Acute (IE) and chronic forms of endocarditis can be extremely serious for peop, even fatal and the symptoms can sometimes feel like a severe dirty hit thus can be misleading. However, it wont be long and you’ll be needing the hospital -if you inject (or have had an operation recently) get to know the signs and symptoms of endocarditis.
Good Habits Vs Bad Habits Hygiene is essential when injecting drugs -and although that might seem obvious, many of us have picked up a few dodgy habits over the years that are worth setting straight. Here is a list of injecting do’s and don’ts, well worth a once over, you might change one of your’s?
Hepatitis C: This looks at the virus that affects so many people all over the world but of which doesn’t get much coverage. This article looks at what you need to know after being diagnosed Hep C the other, important blood tests you need to ask for (but often dont get offered) and how it could affect you.
HIV – The Workings of a Very Clever Retrovirus: This article covers how the HIV virus actually works in the body. A truly fascinating retro virus understanding how it works in the immune system can help one understand the method we use today to control it.
Injecting Safely: Videos Here we are collecting what we think are the best safer injecting videos around. We are just starting this collection but have a few real goodies to begin with. No matter how long you have been injecting (us oldies can be the worst offenders to you know!) we can still get it wrong, get lazy, repeat bad habits etc. Make an effort to save our veins, God knows we need them, and God knows they disappear as we age -so look after them!
Injecting in the Hands: Injecting in the hands is a very delicate and often painful procedure and although it isn’t recommended it is very often the place where people go once they can no longer find veins on their arms. Please read here to ensure you are as updated as you can be on the risks involved. Updated 2015.
Liver – Introducing your liver: As part of our liver series, BP starts with giving the liver the once over – what does it do, how does it do it and gives a starting point from which to understand other liver issues such as Hepatitis B, C, Cirrhosis, fibrosis etc.
Meditation: Our friend B gives us a good glimpse into using Vipassana meditation as a way to get some balance in ones life through gaining an understanding of the mind and its workings. A really valuable aid when attempting to make positive changes in ones life, in this context, around drug use and mental health. B also tells us about Vipassana meditation retreats that are available free all over the world.
Nasal Douches: Some simple procedures to look after your nasal passages if you’re a illicit drug snorter. Don’t wait till you get nose bleeds or a perforated septum. Here’s an easy peasy guide to taking care of your nose.
Osteomyelitis: A very serious bone infection which has recently been resurfacing in the IV drug using community & with worrying results… Hard to detect and diagnose, it’s more important than ever that we know something of it’s signs and symptoms
Pain management for people who use and inject opiate type substances – A Policy Position Paper: This is an excellent document drawn up by AIVL – The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Use League and important for document for any health practicioner working with opiate users in pain. Well worth passing on to your GP or your local health authority.
Safer Injecting: Short video on how to inject drugs in a safer manner. Though never completely safe, injecting is a delicate procedure that is important to do carefully and make sure you are doing everything correct to avoid silly mistakes that could cost you dearly. We make no apologies -information and education equals better decisions.
Skin Picking (and drugs): For the first time, BP looks into an increasingly common and distressing manifestation of excessive cocaine / stimulant use: Skin picking. Hours spent in front of mirrors squeezing and tweezing as the smallest of spots becomes a painful wound. Hair pulled out, bugs under the skin, insects or mites in your clothes and house. BP examines the chemistry behind why it happens and the role cocaine /stimulants have to play. Updated 2015