I've talked before about the importance of coming up with new and novel ways of giving people advice. But his idea came from a conversation I was having with a co-worker.
Like most ideas I get this is a relatively simple solution to a problem.
Emma, one of my co-workers, was talking to me about an injector she'd just completed an assessment on. He hit all the alarm bells for overdose, he injected, he used benzos, he drank, he occasionally used crack etc etc.
But she said that when she raised the issue of overdose with him he was adamant that it wasn't a problem because he's used for years and never overdosed.
This is of course something that happens for most people working with injectors. You'll get someone who feels that they are immune to risks because they haven't directly experienced the related problem. In fact it's not just with drug use, think about the amount of people who drive fast cars without seatbelts, or who never use a condom. People tend to feel they are immortal, especially when they are younger.
A possible solution
My first thought when Emma was talking was that it is pure chance rather than good judgement that has stopped him overdosing so far. The chance aspect of this made me think of gambling and the phrase "a crapshoot".
So I suggested one idea would be to carry a pair of dice around and the next time someone says this kind of thing ask them to role the dice, then roll them again, (and keep doing this for as long as you think you can get away with) then point out that the person hasn't rolled a double six yet. So, by their own logic they'll never roll a double six. (if they have rolled a double six, you can of course make it a double one etc).
Back it up
It's important when you're using this kind of 'flippant approach' to be able to back it up with real facts:
- Make yourself aware of the number of overdoses that year in your neighbourhood
- Use risk awareness tools like the 'Know your score' from my Overdose Workshop
- Remember that the annual mortality rate of heroin users in the UK is between 1% and 2% per year
We now keep a pair of dice in the NSP.
Nigel Brunsdon is the owner of Injecting Advice.com. He's been working in harm reduction since the 1990's, although he's previously a frontline needle programme worker he now spends most of his time developing online resources for drugs workers and users.