Better Vein Care

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Better vein care?Safer Injection Guide
  Chicago Recovery Alliance’s Better Vein Care/Safer Injection Guide The 23 images on the poster and postcards represent opportunities for initiatingand developing discussions on various aspects related to taking better care of one's veins and reducing the likelihood of disease transmission through theprocess of injection. These two protective pursuits are complementary andsynergistic in the spirit of reducing drug-related harm. Please use these materialsto engage people in discussions about positive changes they may choose tomake. These images are not meant to be prescriptive or exhaustive about thepractice of injection, merely a beginning to what is a bountiful set of options forimprovement and a tool for overcoming the damage caused by silence andshame around injection.Note: You are encouraged to take this material as your own and add to itthrough your experiences and those of others around you. If translation, in anyof the ways imagined, can contribute to the effective use of these images pleasedo it! Please share your improvements with us so we may share them withothers at or 773-471-0999.These materials are also available for purchase onsets of 23 postcards and on a poster. PRICE LIST FOR MATERIALS One set of cards and one poster - $15.00Set of cards alone - $10/setPoster alone - $10or contact CRA for bulk purchase.   Prices include US mail shipping in the US.Add $10/order for international postage. Orders to: PO Box 368069, Chicago IL 60636  Image #1: Cultivation of Good Veins -- Everybody has veins and, although of different sizes and shapes, they serve the same function -- to carry blood as itflows back to the heart. How easy it is to see or feel your veins in your arms isdue to many factors such as genetics, your size, the level of activity with yourarms, and how well you've taken care of your veins. The more prominent yourveins are the easier it is to see or feel them and access them through injection.One way you can control the ease of access to the veins in your arm is bycontrolling the size of the muscle fibers in your arms.In short, the bigger the muscle fibers in your arms the more the veins in yourarms will stand out and the easier the access you'll have to these veins. Themore you exercise your arms the bigger your muscle fibers will get. As themuscles get bigger they will both push up and make the veins more prominentand also as the veins get more traffic in blood returning to the heart they will beeasier to see and inject into.Regardless of what condition your veins are in now, exercising your muscles willmake accessing your veins easier.The type of exercise doesn't matter so much as you keeping it up. One heavysession of exercise will not do as much to stimulate the growth of your musclesas ongoing smaller efforts. Even squeezing a ball or making a clenched fist overweeks or months can make a noticeable difference in the appearance and/oraccessibility of your veins.  Image #2: Learn More About Your Veins -- As veins carry blood back to yourheart it is important for them to not allow the blood to flow backwards - awayfrom the heart. To prevent this veins have valves in them which allow blood toflow only toward the heart. You can find these valves by running your fingeralong a vein until you notice, by its shape or by its color, that the blood hasstopped following your finger. When you let up your finger the blood fills upthis space. The place where the blood stops flowing away from the heart is thelocation of a valve. You have to get to know your own veins to learn whereyour valves are.Why are valves important? The better condition you valves are in the shorterthe space you need to plump up in preparation for injecting. For example, if youhad a piece of hose that was three feet long and one that was one foot long andyou could only squeeze these two different lengths of hose with one hand, whichone would you be able to get larger and thus more ready to make a successfulinjection into? In other words, by protecting your valves you are allowinggreater ease and less destruction to your veins in injecting.By learning to identify and then injecting above or below the valves in yourveins you make it much easier to access the vein with a needle. Easier accessequals less damage, less infections, and quicker healing.  Image #3: Clean Surfaces -- With Hepatitis B and C, which can live on surfacesfor many months, you are at risk of diseases from surfaces. Therefore, it ispossible to reduce or eliminate risks from surface contagions by use of cleanhands and clean surfaces.This image shows the making of a new, clean surface for preparing and injection.By turning to the middle of a paper pad or to an unread section of a newspaperyou are likely avoiding possible sources of previous contamination. Preparingand making a shot with clean hands (washed in soap and water) and clean/newsurfaces should greatly reduce hepatitis risks.
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