Push Sticks

Product Description

This is a Safer Smoking product.

Push Sticks provided by OHRDP are birch wood dowels that are 7 inches long and 1/4 inch in diameter. They are used to position screens in stems. Push sticks are made available to prevent the use of makeshift equipment or needle/syringes from being used for the purposes of a push stick. Makeshift equipment may also cause stems to chip or crack.

Best Practice

Best Practice:

Use a wooden push stick provided by the OHRDP to position screens in stems to avoid chipping, cracking, or using makeshift equipment that may contaminate the stem.
  • Provide push sticks in the quantities requested by service users with no limit on the number of push sticks provided per service user, per visit
  • Provide push sticks without requiring service users to return used equipment
  • Provide pre-packaged safer inhalation kits (which may include stems, mouthpieces, screens, and push sticks) and also individual supplies, concurrently
  • Educate service users about safer use of equipment, safer smoking practices, the risks of sharing smoking supplies, and safer sex
  • Dispose of used push sticks and other inhalation equipment in accordance with local regulations
  • Educate service users about the proper disposal of used safer smoking equipment
  • Provide multiple, convenient locations for safe disposal of used equipment
* OHRDP acknowledges that best practice provides the highest standards of practice but that programs may be constraint by human and fiscal resources
Push sticks are used to pack and position screens inside the stem. Once the drug has been smoked the push stick is used to move the screen back and forth to partially recover the drug that has hardened on the inside wall of the stem as the stem cools.
The OHRDP recommends that sites maintain a stockpile (safety stock) of a minimum of one month’s supply of products at the site, at all times. This is to ensure there is a consistent supply of products available for service users. It is best if sites have one designated person ordering supplies from the OHRDP, but a minimum of two people should be trained in case an alternate is needed. The person trained to order supplies should always rotate the product inventory to ensure that products that have an expiry date don’t expire. Note: product distribution can fluctuate when sites first start supplying new products.  It may take a few months for sites to understand the distribution patterns of new products. OHRDP has done their best to order new products in the quantities predicted to be needed for harm reduction sites in Ontario. Note: product distribution can fluctuate when sites first start supplying new products.  It may take a few months for sites to understand the distribution patterns of new products. OHRDP will be working with sites to understand product needs in the province.
  • Wooden push sticks are encouraged for use as often times syringe plunders are used.  Syringe plungers are plastic and can melt inside the hot stem. They also are relatively expensive and these waste harm reduction resources that could be used elsewhere. Other makeshift equipment may also crack or chip the stem increasing the harms associated with damaged equipment.
  • With the introduction of safer inhalation products it is recommended that educational resources are made available to service users. A Safer Smoking Pamphlet and a Service User’s Guide to the Safer Inhalation Supplies are provided by the OHRDP. Hard copies of these resources can be ordered by e-mailing info@ohrdp.ca.

Sources & Resources

  1. Strike C, Hopkins S, Watson TM, Leece P, Young S, Buxton J, et al. Best practice recommendations for Canadian Harm Reduction Programs that provide service to people who use drugs and are at risk for HIV, HCV, and other harms: Part 1. Toronto, Ont: Working group on best practice for harm reduction programs in Canada. 2013.
  2. Towardtheheart: BC’s Harm Reduction Programs Knowledge Exchange Webpage. British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. Available from: www.towardtheheart.com