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J Psychoactive Drugs. 1997 Apr-Jun;29(2):199-204.

The intravenous injection of illicit drugs and needle sharing: an historical perspective.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio 78284, USA.


This study reviewed the literature on the history of needle sharing and intravenous drug abuse. Reports suggest that needle sharing was practiced by drug abusers as early as 1902 in China and 1914 in the United States. Intravenous drug abuse was first mentioned in the literature in 1925. However other references suggest that some opioid users were injecting intravenously prior to 1920. Outbreaks of malaria in Egypt, the United States, and China between 1929 and 1937 were attributed to needle sharing and intravenous injection of opioids. These reports suggest that both needle sharing and intravenous drug use were common by 1937. Factors such as medical use of intravenous injections, enactment and zealous enforcement of antinarcotic laws, and interactions among drug users in institutional settings such as regional hospitals and prisons may have contributed to the spread of both needle sharing and the intravenous technique among drug abusers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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