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Ria and stem by Lucas Anderson - focused
Lucas Anderson

Based on materials from the People's Harm Reduction Alliance.

Alternatives to injecting


Smoking anything is bad for your lungs and respiratory system. It can cause burns, tightening of the airway, and other problems. Taking good care of your lips and mouth is very important in preventing skin breaks. Lip balm and chewing gum should be used to keep lips and mouth moist and intact.


Oral herpes (HSV, “cold sores”), tuberculosis (TB), and other respiratory and gastrointestinal infections can be spread by spit or blood on a pipe. Hepatitis C can be spread by invisible specks of blood and can survive on a pipe for a long time.


Using found objects to smoke with can be dangerous. Light bulbs are filled with toxic chemicals, pens melt and expose you to plastic fumes, broken off car antennae are sharp and can cut up your mouth, pop cans are sharp, break down quickly, and are inefficient.


If you use a pipe, try to use a proper crack, meth, tobacco, or cannabis pipe. You can often find tobacco or cannabis pipes at smoke shops and convenience stores. Crack and meth pipes are available at certain syringe access programs or through some drug user unions. They are also sold at some smoke shops and convenience stores, sometimes under a code name such as “rose stem” for various kinds of pipes, or “oil burner” for meth pipes. Be careful asking for any pipe which may be used to smoke a substance that is illegal. Do not use words like cocaine, crack, meth, and weed (unless you are in a legal state).


You don’t have to smoke out of a pipe. You can also put your substance in with whatever else you’re smoking, roll it up in a cigarette paper, or if it’s sticky, put some on the end of a small metal object like a safety pin or straightened out paper clip, heat it up with a lighter, and inhale the smoke. Make sure your equipment is clean. It only takes a few seconds to feel the effect when you smoke.

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A common method of smoking is “chasing the dragon”. This involves placing a line of heroin on some tinfoil and heating it from below with a flame. You then use a tube to suck up the resulting smoke. Only Shiva has enough hands to smoke this way alone using a lighter. Using a zippo or a candle can free up your hands to hold the foil and the tube. Using a straw can be very wasteful, so try to get a wider tube, like from a toilet paper roll.

A more efficient way of smoking opioids is by using a hammer pipe. These pipes were developed by people who use drugs and are available from many syringe services programs. 


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It is best to use a filter if you can. You can make one by wadding up some clean metal mesh (Brillo, Chore Boy, pipe screens) and placing it on the end of an un-bent paper clip. Burn it with a lighter for a few seconds. Then place the filter into the pipe and push it back and forth with the pusher (a chopstick cut in half works great) and when it is compressed enough, leave it near one end.


The filter keeps burning chunks of crack from flying into your mouth, throat, or lungs. Change filters often, as they can break down and become flying chunks as well.


If you use a metal pusher, it can chip or weaken the pipe, so use something softer like a chopstick or dowel.


Put a crack condom over the other end. This is to protect your lips from burning if the pipe becomes hot, and can help reduce disease transmission if you are not using your own new pipe. If your local syringe access program does not give them out, you can buy flexible PVC tubing at the hardware store and cut it into 1-2 inch pieces. Now you are ready to put in your crack rock. Hold the pipe with the end slightly lifted, so the rock doesn’t fall out. Dance the lighter flame close to, but not directly on the end with the rock. This should still be hot enough to create the crack vapor without making the whole pipe burning hot. It will also make your rock last longer than if you put the flame directly on the pipe.


Check your pipe for cracks or weak spots before you use it, especially near the bulb. Put your drugs into the bulb part of the pipe. You can use the hole in the bulb or the mouth hole. Dance the lighter around the bottom of the bulb until a vapor forms. 


Keep in mind that meth smoke is heavy and will hover near the floor. If you have a baby, small child, or pet at home, never smoke in the same room with them, to avoid exposing them to meth smoke.

Ingestion (Eating)


You don’t need to cook up before ingestion, but if it’s already in liquid form it will start to work faster. Ingestion can take longer for effect, around 30 minutes, and your peak will be in roughly an hour, depending on the substance. Ingestion is less efficient than injecting or smoking. You may have to use about twice as much for the same effect, because part of your dose is processed by the liver before entering your bloodstream. You can decrease absorption time and increase the strength if you hold a mixed liquid solution under your tongue until it is absorbed.


Booty Bumping

Cook up your drugs as if you were going to inject, and then put your solution into a syringe with the needle removed. Then lay down and insert the syringe into your anus (butthole) and push in the drugs. Lube can make insertion more comfortable, and a friend to help can make this a less difficult process. Afterward, you need to lie down with your butt above your head for a few minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed, otherwise, when you stand up, your drugs may leak out. You will start to feel the effect within a few minutes.



If your drug is easily crushable, or already comes in powder form, you can sniff it up your nose with a straw. To improve absorption, put your powder through a clean flour sifter, loose leaf teapot basket, or other fine screen to ensure that there are no clumps.


Be sure to use your own clean new straw each time, and cut it to your desired length, usually 1-3 inches. If you’re using with friends, try to each use a different color, so they don’t get mixed up. Never use a straw that has been used to drink something, because your powder will get stuck in the remaining drops of liquid inside the straw. Before you sniff your line, exhale while facing away so you don’t accidentally blow it away. Sometimes this method gives you a runny nose, so hang your head upside down off the edge of a bed or couch until it stops, to avoid losing part of your dose in the snot.


You can also cook up your drugs as if you were going to inject, and then put the solution in an empty nasal spray bottle, to be squirted up your nose conveniently and discreetly. (The longer you store cooked drugs, the more likely it will start growing bacteria. Try to use it up within a few days. Store it in the refrigerator, in a paper bag or something to block out light, which can cause it to start breaking down.) You may want to use as little water as possible to make the solution more potent, so you don’t have to use a zillion sprays to get the effect you want. Snorting is effective in just a few minutes.

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