Crack–heroin speedball injection and its implications for vein care: qualitative study
Article first published online: 3 SEP 2007
Volume 102, Issue 11, pages 1782–1790, November 2007
How to Cite
Rhodes, T., Briggs, D., Kimber, J., Jones, S. and Holloway, G. (2007), Crack–heroin speedball injection and its implications for vein care: qualitative study. Addiction, 102: 1782–1790. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2007.01969.x
- Issue published online: 3 SEP 2007
- Article first published online: 3 SEP 2007
- Submitted 21 January 2007; initial review completed 16 April 2007; final version accepted 12 June 2007
- femoral vein;
- harm reduction;
- injecting drug use;
Background We report on an exploratory qualitative study investigating drug injectors' narratives of vein damage and groin (femoral vein) injection associated with the injection of crack–heroin speedball.
Methods We undertook 44 in-depth qualitative interviews among injectors of crack–heroin speedball in Bristol and London, England, in 2006.
Findings The data suggest an emerging culture of crack-based speedball injection. Injectors' narratives link speedball injection with shifts towards groin injection articulated as an acceptable risk, and not merely as a last resort in the face of increased vein deterioration associated with speedball. Accounts of vein damage linked to speedball emphasize ‘missed hits’ related to the local anaesthetic action of crack, the excess use of citric in the preparation of speedball injections and ‘flushing’ when making a hit. We find that groin injection persists despite an awareness of health risks and medical complications.
Conclusions We emphasize an urgent need for reviewing harm reduction in relation to vein care in the context of shifts to crack-based speedball injection, and the use of the femoral vein, among UK injectors. There is an additional need for interventions to promote safer groin and speedball injecting as well as to prevent transitions toward groin and crack injection.