Intramuscular injections deliver medication into well-perfused muscle, providing rapid systemic action and absorbing relatively large doses. The choice of site should take into account the general physical status and age, and amount of drug to be given.
Like IV methods, IM can be very potent way of taking
drugs. The needle is injected in to the upper arm, thigh or
buttock. The speed at which the drug gets to work will
vary. This is not as difficult as IV but you should still
know what you are doing before attempting this route. Sterile
equipment is still required - ask your local harm reduction
service for additional advice.
Harm Reduction Messages
IM can give veins a rest from the daily grind of IV injection where appropriate, but this method
will cause irritation to the tissue and skin around the site. The
level of irritation will depend on the drug you are using. The
long-term outcome will often look like cellulite.
The proposed site for injection should be inspected for signs of
inflammation, swelling, and infection and any skin lesions should
be avoided. If injections are repeated frequently, the sites should
be rotated evenly. IM injections should be given at a 90-degree
angle. The needle is inserted and injection given. Allow 10 seconds
before removing the needle to allow the substance diffuse into the
muscle. With anabolic steroid use (resting the veins does not apply here) the person should be injecting
into their upper, outer quadrant and should avoid contact with the
sciatic nerve. Potential complications of IM injections are nerve
injury, septic abscesses, necrosis, gangrene and intramuscular
Aspiration (the process of drawing back the syringe) should be
practised in IM injectors as if a needle is mistakenly placed in a
blood vessel, the drug may be given intravenously by mistake and
could cause an embolism as a result of the chemical components of
the drug. Inject at a rate of 1ml every ten seconds.
Change the needle after preparation of the drug and before
administration to ensure that it is clean, sharp, dry and the
Anabolic steroid users should apply pressure to the site and
massage the muscle to help the substance absorb. This is NOT the
case with other substances.