NX - Needle Exchanges

What is a needle exchange?

A needle exchange is a place for people who are injecting drugs to obtain free sterile injecting equipment and advice. They can be in a pharmacy or part of a specialist drug service. Some services also operate mobile needle exchanges in specialised vans.

What can I get from a needle exchange?

Pharmacy needle exchanges usually use pre-made packs of injecting equipment. Each pack will contain syringes, needles (sometimes as an all-in-one device), swabs to clean the skin before injecting and a secure container to dispose of used equipment. You do not usually get a choice of equipment but many pharmacy services now offer more than one type of pack for IPED users. You can also get some advice around injecting and some pharmacies offer extended services such as referral to other health services, blood tests or other health services.

Specialist services will have a “pick’n’mix” approach. You will be able to select the equipment you need and they will help you choose the best equipment for your needs. They can offer you specialist advice around injecting and drug use, referrals to specialist medical services and some medical services such as blood tests and liver function. What services are available will vary between different sites.

All specialist needle exchanges can offer practical support and assistance with injecting-related health problems, such as injection site wounds or blood borne viruses.

Is it confidential?

Yes. These services are designed to provide non-judgemental, confidential, advice and support for people who choose to inject themselves. You will be asked to provide some details such as your initials, date of birth and possibly your postcode. Some services may want to do an initial assessment with you; but it is up to you. You should not be refused equipment or advice and support, regardless of whether you choose to provide personal information.


For contact details to find your nearest needle exchange please click here.