Sharing or reusing needles can cause serious health problems for drug users. Re-using old or dirty needles can lead to skin and blood infections as they let germs get into the blood or under the skin. Sharing needles carries the risk of cross-infection if the person you are sharing with has a blood-borne illness such as hepatitis or HIV. If you are injecting drugs, it's important to always use your own needles, and never share them with anyone else. However, many drug users find it hard to obtain a supply of clean needles.
A needle exchange is a service where intravenous drug users (people who inject drugs such as heroin) can get clean needles and syringes, and safely dispose of used needles. Staff at needle exchanges will also be able to give you advice on your drug use, help you get into a rehab programme if you want to, and give you general advice on your health and wellbeing
Most needle exchanges are in pharmacies, and will be staffed by a qualified pharmacist.
Your local needle exchange
Hammersmith and Fulham
Hammersmith and Fulham have produced a leaflet for people who are experiencing problems with substance misuse which includes contact details for local pharmacies providing a needle exchange service, and for a number of treatment and recovery centres around the borough.
Kensington and Chelsea
Kensington and Chelsea have produced a leaflet for people who are experiencing problems with substance misuse which includes contact details for local pharmacies providing a needle exchange service, and for a number of treatment and recovery centres around the borough.
Click here for a list of local needle changes in Westminster.
Other information and advice
The Invisible Elephant is a peer-led website for anyone living in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, or Hammersmith and Fulham, who is affected by problems with alcohol or substance misuse. It provides a wealth of information and advice, with details of local support groups and services.