Training Guide

Getting Off Right: A Safety Manual for Injection Drug Users

Tools of the Trade: Where to Get New Equipment and What to Do with the Old

This chapter covers:

  • Safe Storage & Handling of Injection Equipment
  • Proper Disposal of Used Equipment
  • Where to Get New Materials


Particularly if you have small children, always store your injection equipment—used or unused—in a location where others are not likely to come across it. Keep your new equipment in its package until you’re ready to use it so that it remains sterile, and store your needles and syringes in a cool, dry place.

Always carefully store your used needles and syringes in a sharps container, coffee can, spaghetti sauce jar, thick soda or detergent  bottle, or similar container to prevent accidental needlesticks. If you live with someone else who injects, be sure to keep your equipment separate to prevent accidental sharing. You might also want to mark your syringes so you can tell them apart.



It’s best to take your used equipment to a syringe service program or some other place where it will be properly disposed of. If you don’t have access to such a program, throw it in the garbage but only after you’ve securely packaged it in a puncture-proof container. Don’t flush your used equipment down the toilet because it may end up on a beach or in the ocean somewhere or stick the plumber who has to unclog the pipes.



Fortunately, many communities now have needle exchange programs where you can get new, sterile equipment for free and dispose of your used works. Definitely check out your local needle exchange if there is one, and get involved! It’s a great way to help out yourself and other people who use drugs.

You may live in a place where you can buy injection equipment over the counter. Try to find a cooperative pharmacist and let him or her know you appreciate their assistance. Let other users know what drug stores will sell equipment to them.

If there are no other options, you can usually find injection equipment on the black market. If you purchase needles and syringes on the street, however, clean them before you use them; sometimes dirty equipment is re-packaged and sold as new.