MIT recently came out with a new method of injection: a Hypospray. The hypospray delivers fluid or powder into the flesh at a rapid speed (nearly the speed of sound) in such a thin stream that there is no pain. The injection goes through the skin and into the blood stream. While hyposprays have been around using larger compressed air canisters, this particular hypospray uses magnetic energy to fuel the device (Lee, 2012). MIT’s new hypospray provides more control (Humphries, 2012). Using the hypospray avoids the risks of nerve damage, potential infection, or blood clots that may result from IVs or shots.
While the Star Trek fan community appreciates this invention because it mirrors a piece of technology depicted in the series, as a drug addict I appreciate this invention for different reasons. What are the implications for IV drug users? First, no more sharing needles, just share one hypospray. It would prevent the transmission of diseases spread through bodily fluids, HIV in particular. You will never have to use dull needles. It would prevent collapsed veins, so the addict does not have to keep searching out new and more remote veins. Furthermore, I always have the vision of Requiem for a Dream where Harry’s arm becomes horribly infected and he continues to inject it. Ultimately, he loses his arm. The hypospray can also inject powder (Humphries, 2012), so it may be able to allow addicts with varying states of degraded cartilage to continue their usage or to prevent the degradation all together.
In addition to possibly avoiding many of the major health risks associated with injecting drugs, the hypospray may also allow many addicts to bring their addictions to a more advanced level. What about the opiate addicts who are deathly afraid of needles? Now they can administer heroin intravenously, too, like all the other hardcore junkies. Another way it can work to escalate usage is through the circumstance that the hypospray does in fact remove so many of the risk factors commonly associated with drug usage.
Simultaneously, drug use is not pretty. It never has been and never will be, regardless of the technology surrounding it. It does not matter if it is a new clean needle every time, an addict is an addict. Taking away the risk factors of life-long and life-threatening illnesses the individual will have to live with whether or not they get sober probably will not affect their using or not using. Also, I have friends who were IV drug users who needed to go to the hospital for medical reasons and freaked out about their IVs. Just because an addict is afraid of needles does not mean they won’t use them for drugs. The hypospray might make it easier and cleaner, but at the end of the day we are addicts. We are willing to steal from our mothers and stick dull needles into strange veins in our necks. Is making it easier going to accelerate or change our path when we are already going to any limits? Hopefully the hypospray will give addicts a safer way to use until they can find a way to not use.
Humphries, M. (2012, May 26). MIT Creates A Star Trek Hypospray to Replace Needles . Retrieved 2012, from Geek.com: http://www.geek.com/articles/geek-cetera/mit-creates-a-star-trek-hypospray-to-replace-needles-20120526/
Lee, K. (2012, May 27). MIT Develops a Magnetic Hypospray for Needleless Shots. Retrieved 2012, from Computer World: http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=92DD45D7-D4B3-3620-ED20FE350F32A48A