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Type of submission: Oral
Conference track: Practice
Topics: Innovative Harm Reduction Programmes; Overdose Prevention and Management
Presenting author: Dirk Schaeffer
Dirk Schaeffer, Heino Stoever
Intravenous drug use has been predominantly practised since illegal heroin use became known in Germany in the early 1970s. The available data suggest that the risk of accidental overdose when smoking heroin is substantially reduced compared to injecting a substance of unknown purity and quality. Moreover, the risk of transmitting HIV, Hepatitis B or C via blood contact is considerably reduced when smoking heroin rather than when injecting it intravenously. It can be concluded that inhalative use - measured by the indicators ‘overdose’ and ‘viral infections’ is considerably less dangerous than intravenous use. The project ‘SMOKE IT 2!’ studied to what extent a change of the consumption method can be supported by making new equipment for drug use available.
‘SMOKE IT!’ was carried out as a multi-centre survey in 32 low threshold services in 2015. 279 participants received ‘SMOKE-IT!’ packs that contained new heroin smoking foils, as well as information about inhalative drug use. The quantitative data collection was aided by a written questionnaire.
The vast majority (77%) favoured using the foils from the ‘SMOKE-IT!’ packs . The survey shows that more than 70% of the sample used the SMOKE-IT foils for inhaling instead of injecting. Almost one third said that smoking was healthier than injecting. 22% named the reduced risk of a hepatitis or HIV infection as a important factor. A quarter of the respondents used the smoking foils to avoid the danger of an overdose.
Targeted media in association with the dispensation of attractive drug use equipment can motivate opiate users to change their method of drug use. All drop-in centres should expand their syringe-exchange services to include the dispensation of smoking foils cause besides health aspects a main reason to use foils was the implementation of foils as a new harm reduction service.