Wheel filter

Wheel filter

Wheel filters are designed to remove impurities in injectable drugs.

They can used to filter injectable illegal drugs such as heroin, amphetamines or ecstasy or legal drugs such as benzodiazepines. A wheel filter still lets the drug through, but gets rid of many impurities such as fungal spores, bacteria or 'filler' used in the drug. The use of wheel filters is strongly recommended when illicit drug users seek to inject prescription medications such as morphine and benzodiazepines that come in tablet form.

Wheel filters as a harm reduction strategy

This use of wheel filters is advocated as part of the harm reduction approach to illicit drug use, which aims to reduce the physical harm occurring to those who insist on injecting illicit drugs. The harm reduction approach to drug use is controversial as some critics think it tolerates or even encourages drug use.

Pills like prescription opiates or benzodiazepines which are often converted by users into crude injectables, have ingredients such as chalk and wax as a 'filler', and illicit drugs are often adulterated with fillers to increase profits. Correctly used, wheel filters greatly reduce these impurities entering the blood stream and will help avoid vein problems such as collapsed veins, abscesses, infections, embolism, 'dirty tastes', disease and septicemia. Fact|date=February 2007

While wheel filters are the most effective filter available for injecting drug users, other more common types of filters used include cotton wool, tampons, and cigarette filters. While these can serve as basic filters, they have a greater risk of bacterial infection or contamination from pieces of the filter itself. The condition known as cotton fever is caused by bacteria present in cotton used as a filter.

Wheel filters are available in sizes that will filter out bacteria from a mix, but viruses are too small to be effectively filtered out.

A harm reduction approach encourages people who insist on using illicit drugs, to use the least harmful method. A wheel filter can minimize the health risks for those who insist on injecting drugs recreationally, particularly drugs that come in tablet or pill form.

Wheel filter sizes

Wheel filters come in a variety of sizes in different countries. The following are common examples.

A 5.0 micrometre wheel filter is commonly used to get rid of the chalk from prescription tablets like benzodiazepines, dexamphetamine, physeptone and other recreational drugs like MDMA. A smaller filter is then used to filter out smaller particles and/or bacteria.

A 0.8 micrometre wheel filter is generally considered suitable for most substances, including MS-Contin, Subutex, Kapanol, Oxy-contin and amphetamine sulfate (brown or discoloured amphetamine).

A 0.2 micrometre wheel filter is the largest filter to also filter bacteria.

See also

* Harm reduction
* Adulteration
* Drug injection


* Loxley, W., International Journal of Drug Policy,11 (6),Doing the possible: harm reduction, injecting drug use and blood borne viral infections in Australia pp. 407-416

External links

* [http://www.saferinjecting.net Information on harm reduction strategies when using illicit drugs] , from the Queensland Injectors Health Network
* [http://www.needle.co.nz/fastpage/fpengine.php/templateid/56 Another guide for injecting drug users] , from the New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme

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