I was back at home a couple months ago and came across my using kit (TRIGGGEERRRR!!). I, stupidly, opened up the case, and discovered the collection of cottons and syringes and spoons. I, of course, proceeded to throw the case away, with the help of my sober friend I brought along with me. I wanted to gag. Any IV user (at least an educated/knowledgeable one, for that matter) knows about the imminent threat posed by cotton fever. Cotton fever is an infection one contracts as a direct result of injecting bacteria into their blood: therefore, (to lay it on nice and thick for our slow learners) many people experience this amidst the process of administering drugs intravenously. It is often misconstrued that there is some sort of bacterial culture present in all cotton fibers. It has been shown that somewhere along in the preparation process, cotton can contract bacteria, mainly from non-sterile surfaces it comes into contact with. Another big contributor to the induction of cotton fever is the recycling of used cottons. Users take the filters they have just used and set them aside to re-filter at a later date. Whilst the filter sits and patiently waits for it to see the light of a spoon once more, it serves as a breeding ground for bacteria. It is always moist, which is the favorable condition for the multiplication of bacteria.
Towards the beginning of my IV use, I took pride in the measures to promote harm reduction I incorporated. I always sanitized my work area. I always used a fresh needle. I always used bacteriostatic water. I always sanitized my cooker. Also, I always used a micron filter. A micron filter is a device ranging in diameter from .22 micrometers to .45 micrometers. Essentially, it allows for active ingredients to pass through, and stops any sort of adjunct fillers/bacteria from passing, leaving you with the most sterile solution possible. It is not guaranteed to leave out everything except your drug solution. For instance, viruses are too small to be filtered, so it is possible to transmit HIV or hepatitis if using a shared solution. But let’s get real, people. If we are going to incorporate micron filtering, we should know better than to share blood.
As my using progressed, (so the story goes) I got sloppier and sloppier when it came to harm reduction. Before I knew it, I was not using a micron, I was reusing syringes, I was not sanitizing, and, worst of all: I was re-filtering my cottons- not once, but as many as 4-5 times. I would filter my shot then proceed to place the cotton in my Rolling Stones CD case, along with the sharps I was using, and my cooker. I began simply filling a bottle with tap water, and pumping my used syringes with that water. If it was a good day I would run some alcohol through the rig beforehand. My case was filled with 30 or so moist cottons at any given time. I allow for them to dry ever so slightly before I would reuse them. Letting them sit in an airtight, dark case definitely prolonged this process. Don’t ask me how, but I never managed to contract the fever. I certainly should have.
I cannot stress enough the importance of harm reduction when using drugs. I feel very fortunate to have all of my appendages intact, and not to have any sort of viral/bacterial infection. I, by no means condone IV drug use, but if you are going to, please take appropriate measures to promote sterility and harm reduction!!!!
By Andrew T.