Research has found that needle fixation is a genuine problem and has an impact on achieving abstinence for a minority of heroin users. For those with these dual addictions, it is even more difficult to stop using. Previous studies have focused on defining the problem of needle fixation and attempting to measure its prevalence. This study seeks to uncover the reasons why some heroin users develop needle fixation and how needle fixation, flushing, and rituals develop over time. It also seeks to make policy suggestions on how to improve heroin addiction treatment. To answer these questions, indepth interviews are conducted with heroin addicts in the UK, and the results are thematically analysed. It is discovered that people with needle fixation have other obsessive traits, which contribute to the development of the phenomenon. It is found that rituals develop incrementally over time, because of advice given by friends, as well as contradictory advice from professionals. Suggested policy interventions include reintroducing injectable methadone and increasing the number of available residential rehabilitation spaces, as these are rarely used in the UK. One service should be in charge of addiction treatment to ensure clarity in terms of advice and accountability. A suggested avenue for further research would be to conduct a quantitative study and attempt to assess how prevalent needle fixation is among heroin addicts.
How to Cite:
Wooldridge, J., 2017. Flushing, rituals and needle fixation among heroin addicts: Implications for policy. The Public Sphere: Journal of Public Policy, 5(1), pp.279–311.