Dear Aunt Agony... Where Does A Heroin Addict Inject?

Dear A.A,

My boyfriend is an injecting drug user. I do not have much experience of addiction and drug addicts, and even though we've been together for over eighteen months I am still very confused over what is the truth. My boyfriend acts very open about his problem and tries to guide me on what is happening but I often feel like he's giving me disinformation so as it's easier for him to cover up his signs of use. One of the main things is injecting. He frequently pulls his shirt off and throws his arms in my face, telling me to inspect them as some kind of proof that he is not using. And it's true, I can't see any mark or sore or bruise on his arms, but the thing is I KNOW he has used! I CAN TELL by his eyes, his talk, even his eating habits! But his arms are clean and then he makes me feel all guilty for accusing him of using and even says that I'm 'paranoid' and that I've even put the idea of using in his head now. Please, where else can an addict inject (apart from the arms)? Is there any place someone can inject which leaves no trace? [Katerline]

A.A Says:

Hey Katerline, it seems your boyfriend is using some very common behavioural traits to try to play down his addiction. That's not any kind of criticism as I've done exactly the same myself and it's often necessary if the life is going to be even a little tranquil. I guess by you 'inspecting' his arms and wanting to inspect other parts of his body that he's not so much 'putting his arms in your face' as he is finally giving in to your relentless questions (maybe moods) concerning his drug use until he finally offers up his body for inspection so as he can get some peace (possibly you too). I don't think you're paranoid. If you know the signs and you're sure then you have to believe what your eyes tell you and not what someone tries to convince you of. Concerning injecting, addicts can inject anywhere there is a vein... no matter how small. Have a look over your own body and count all the places you spot veins – they are all potential shooting areas. Personally I've shot in just about every place you can get a needle: arms, hands, front of fingers, back of fingers, palm, chest, abdomen, legs, behind the knees, along the shin bone, the calf (both sides), the ankle, the forefoot, my toes, the inner underside of my foot, my forehead, shoulders, wrists... wherever there's a vein, there's a shot. One of the great myths of injecting is that it marks the body. Yes, it will if you continuously shoot in the same places (or with older addicts like me who find it hard getting any vein) but with new fresh veins there are often no marks left, and many times there's not even blood from the injection site. Needles are very very fine... ten times smaller than a sowing needle. With that in mind, you can imagine how tiny the pin prick is. However, some people scar very easy and terribly. I've never scarred much, and apart from a track mark running down the middle of both hands, you'd be hard pressed to find any tracks on my arms. So yes, there are many places one can inject and leave no obvious mark as to what it is.

For further info read this graphic and detailed account of the injecting process: The Pain of Painkilling

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