There are many different ways to abuse drugs, whether they are illegal and illicit drugs or prescription drugs. Most can be ingested in many ways and can be swallowed, snorted, inhaled, smoked, or injected. Either of these methods eventually delivers the drug into the bloodstream, which is how it is carried to the brain.
Swallowing and snorting drugs are both popular methods of abusing drugs, but they are different in some aspects that can impact the consequences of drug abuse. The potential risks and side effects also vary but one constant remains the same – if you are getting high and can’t stop, then reaching out for professional help is the number one priority.
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Dangers of Snorting Drugs to Get High
Snorting drugs is the practice of sniffing any powdered substance through the nose whether it is already in a powdered form or it is crushed into a powder. Substances such as cocaine, amphetamines, heroin, and crystal meth, most commonly abused this way. Many people also often crush and snort prescription opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone to snort them.
When you snort drugs, the way the drug is administered to the brain is different than when you swallow them. Snorting a drug requires the drug to be absorbed through the nasal membrane and goes into the surrounding blood vessels.
Then those blood vessels carry the drug to the heart and throughout the bloodstream and to the brain where the drug then interacts with the brain’s receptors resulting in the drug’s effects on the body. Snorting drugs also allows the drug to enter the bloodstream quicker than if it were swallowed, causing the effects of the drugs o the body to be much quicker. This also can increase the effects of the drug making the high much more intense.
Snorting drugs can also create different devastating effects on a person’s physical health. Because drugs enter the body through the nasal cavity, these drugs can negatively impact a person’s respiratory system. Long-term use of intranasal use can lead to things such as nose bleeds, loss of smell, and perforation of the nasal cavity, which can lead to difficulty breathing. Often, the side effects can be permanent.
Dangers of Swallowing Drugs to Get High
Many different drugs can be administered by swallowing them. Most prescription medications as well as many illegal street drugs like Acid and MDMA. When substances are swallowed, they are absorbed onto the body differently than when it is snorted and will have to overcome additional steps to reach the brain to feel the effects.
When swallowed, the drug is dissolved in the person’s stomach and is absorbed into the bloodstream by going through the stomach lining. Once it is in the bloodstream it travels to the liver to be metabolized before it can make it to the brain and the effects of the drug are felt. Due to this process, swallowing a drug can have less of a noticeable effect.
According to NIH:
About 4 percent of Americans met the criteria for drug use disorder in the past year and about 10 percent have had drug use disorder at some time in their lives.
When you swallow drugs, you can have different but equally serious negative effects on the body than when snorting them. The digestive tract and the liver are impacted after prolonged drug use in this way and can eventually lead to liver failure.
Both snorting and swallowing drugs can create lasting physical and mental health problems and both can lead to very serious substance abuse disorders. Chronic use of addictive substances in any form can lead to addiction and potentially death.
Treatment for Substance Abuse
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Why do people snort drugs?
People may choose to snort drugs for several reasons, though it’s crucial to remember that these reasons do not justify or make drug misuse safe. Here are some of the common reasons:
- Faster Onset of Effects: Snorting allows drugs to bypass the digestive system and go straight into the bloodstream via the mucous membranes in the nose, making the effects felt more quickly than oral ingestion.
- Increased Intensity: The faster absorption often leads to a more intense high or euphoria.
- Bypass First-Pass Metabolism: When a drug is swallowed, it is processed through the liver (first-pass metabolism) before entering the systemic circulation. This process can break down a significant portion of the substance, reducing its effect. Snorting bypasses this first-pass metabolism, potentially leading to a stronger effect.
- Ritual and Social Factors: In some cases, the method of drug use can become part of a ritual or be influenced by social factors. Snorting can be seen as a shared activity within certain social groups, which might encourage some individuals to partake in this method.
It’s vital to underline the risks associated with snorting drugs. These can include damage to the nasal passages and sinuses, an increased risk of overdose due to the intensity and rapid onset of effects, and a higher likelihood of dependency and addiction. If you or someone else is struggling with substance misuse, please seek professional help.
What are the differences between Swallowing and Snorting Drugs?
Swallowing and snorting are two different methods of consuming drugs, each with its own unique characteristics and potential effects:
Swallowing (Oral Administration)
This is a common method of drug administration. Drugs are usually taken in the form of a pill, tablet, or liquid. After ingestion, the substance is absorbed into the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract. The onset of the drug’s effects is typically slower compared to other methods as it has to pass through the digestive system first. This method often leads to a longer-lasting but less intense effect because the substance is slowly released into the bloodstream.
A potential danger with oral ingestion is the risk of an overdose. Since the effects are not immediately noticeable, one might be tempted to take more of the drug, leading to potentially dangerous or even fatal consequences. Additionally, some substances can cause harm to the liver or other organs as they are metabolized.
Snorting (Intranasal Administration)
This method involves inhaling the drug through the nose where it is absorbed by the mucous membranes and quickly enters the bloodstream. The onset of effects tends to be much quicker, often within minutes, as the drug bypasses the digestive system and goes straight to the brain.
Snorting can lead to a more intense but shorter-lasting high compared to oral ingestion. This can lead to more frequent use or higher doses to maintain the desired effect, increasing the risk of addiction and other negative health effects. It can also cause physical harm to the nasal passages and sinuses, including nasal congestion, nosebleeds, loss of sense of smell, and, in severe cases, damage to the nasal septum (the cartilage dividing the nostrils).
It’s important to note that both methods carry significant risks, including dependency, addiction, and a wide range of physical and mental health problems. Legal substances can be just as harmful as illicit ones when misused or abused. Always follow a healthcare professional’s advice when taking any kind of medication. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, seek help from a professional health care provider or a trusted support group.