Harm reduction

Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is a gradual process and abstinence is not always possible. The safer use of drugs and drinking can play a vital role in recovery. 

How to reduce harm

Injecting drugs

Injecting drugs brings with it a high risk of overdose, infection and blood borne viruses, which in turn may host a collection of problems in itself.

While smoking drugs is often less likely to lead to an overdose than injecting, it is not always possible.

Blunt or dirty needles, incorrectly sized needles and missed hits can massively threaten your health. To reduce risk:

  • always use clean works
  • switch between the veins you use to inject
  • recognise the signs of overdose
  • practice good personal hygiene

If it looks as though your body is producing new, smaller veins, it is important not to inject into these. They are likely to be blood vessels which are under pressure to carry about blood about and can lead to the blood flow becoming even more restricted.

Needle and syringe service

A needle and syringe service is available at New Hope. We also provide these for anyone using Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs.

Services are also available at:


Lexicon Shopping Centre
19-23 Braccan Walk


5 The Square
Harmans Water
RG12 9LP

Lloyds Pharmacy

6 Great Hollands Square
RG12 8UX


2 Dukes Ride
RG45 6LT


3 Bullbrook Row
RG12 1LS

If you are not local, your nearest needle exchange can be found by searching on Talk to FRANK.

Finding needles

If you find needles in public it is important not to touch them. Instead, use our online form to report them

Blood Borne Viruses (BBV)

Drug users who inject drugs are particularly vulnerable to blood borne viruses, such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

To avoid contracting BBVs, it is important to practice good personal hygiene and use a clean needle when injecting drugs.

Tests, vaccinations and advice on BBVs are available at New Hope, alongside a recovery programme.

Using cocaine

If you use bank notes when using cocaine, particularly if you share these, you increase the risk of contracting blood borne viruses like Hepatitis B and C.

It is safer to use a straw, cut down to size, and do not let anyone else use it.


While abstaining from heavy drinking sessions is often advisable, it is not always possible to the individual. If you know that you are going to drink, it is important to prepare for ANTICS:

  • A  - avoid impulsiveness - planning for a drinking session ahead of time reduces the likelihood of harm towards yourself and others
  • N - nutrition - heavy drinking is a drain on the body’s vitamins, so make sure to eat well and stay hydrated around a drinking session
  • T  - trust the people who are around you if you are not drinking alone
  • I - indoor drinking does have a stigma which surrounds it, but can in fact be much safer than drinking away from home, especially to those who are prone to blackouts or fights
  • C - car keys should be out of your possession if you feel the impulse to drive while drunk and if you can, attempt to surrender these to somebody you trust before you have your first drink
  • S - safe sex is always important and you should carry these about with you - you can get free condoms at New Hope

It is also advisable to avoid drinking in conjunction with other drugs. Drink is frequently a significant factor in drug related deaths, illnesses and accidents.

Safe sex

Unsafe sex is a common cause of increased health risks.

Free condoms are available to clients at New Hope.

Contact information

Drug and Alcohol Action Team

01344 312360