Snorting Cocaine (Insufflation): Effects And Risks
Snorting cocaine is one of the most common forms of abuse, as it produces some of the longest-lasting results. However, as with all methods of use for cocaine, snorting presents many risks to the bodies and minds of people who use it.
Cocaine has a variety of routes of administration. It can be smoked, eaten, rubbed into the gums, or injected into the body. It can also be taken intranasally, via snorting.
Snorting (also known as insufflation) is one of the most common forms of cocaine substance abuse, but like all forms of cocaine use, it presents many health risks and side effects.
Read on to learn more about why people might snort cocaine and how snorting affects the body.
Why Snort Cocaine?
The effects of cocaine use are very similar for every ingestion method. However, the speed at which those effects occur or last can differ depending on how the drug is taken.
The form may determine how it is used: For example, powder cocaine can be snorted, swallowed, or injected, while freebase and crack cocaine are much more often smoked.
No matter how the drug is ingested, a cocaine high is felt due to increased dopamine supply in the brain.
When cocaine powder is snorted, it is absorbed via the mucosal membranes inside the nose. It is then carried via the bloodstream to the brain.
The resulting cocaine high lasts 15 to 30 minutes on average. As cocaine is a fast-acting drug, this is longer than most other methods of ingestion, which is why it is so common.
Side Effects Of Snorting Cocaine
The side effects of snorting cocaine are incredibly varied. Some of them are the same as ones associated with other forms of ingestion.
All forms of cocaine substance use can cause:
- slowed blood flow and lowered body temperature
- increased heart rate
- chest pains
- heightened blood pressure and constricted blood vessels
- increased risk of heart attack
- increased risk of diseases such as HIV or hepatitis
There are also symptoms unique to snorting cocaine. These can be short-term or long-term symptoms, and many of them are referred to under the umbrella term of “cocaine nose“.
These symptoms often develop because the nose is not designed to handle inhaled powder. Additionally, many tissues and organs can deteriorate when exposed to this toxic substance.
Signs of snorting cocaine include, but are not limited to:
- irritation of the mucus membranes in the nose
- frequent nosebleeds
- chronic runny nose
- lung and sinus infections
- perforation or deviation of the septum
- ulcers in the nose, throat, and lungs
- the collapse of the nose and nasal necrosis
Side Effects Of Snorting Cocaine Cutting Agents
Like many other types of drugs, cocaine can be laced with cutting agents. These substances can present their own risks when inhaled along with cocaine.
For example, powdered milk, Tylenol, laxatives, laundry detergent, and even a form of cattle dewormer called levamisole have been found in cocaine.
None of these substances were designed to be administered intranasally and can present very poor health outcomes or even cause sudden death in people who snort them.
Polysubstance Abuse And Cocaine Snorting
Polysubstance abuse is the practice of using two or more illicit substances at the same time to heighten their effects or produce contrasting effects.
As cocaine is a stimulant, it is sometimes taken at the same time as a depressant, such as alcohol, or opioids like heroin and fentanyl. “Speedball” refers to heroin and cocaine being combined.
Speedballing and other forms of polysubstance use greatly increase the risk of a cocaine overdose, as well as overdose from any other drugs used at the time.
This is because the side effects of one can conceal the side effects of another. Additionally, your body has to work at least twice as hard to flush the substances from your system.
Signs A Loved One May Be Snorting Cocaine
Signs of cocaine use can vary depending on the type of ingestion method used. For example, they may have cocaine paraphernalia related to snorting in their room or other private space.
A person snorting powder cocaine may have a cocaine tray or hand mirror with a white powder residue on it. This is used to have a flat surface with which to “cut” the cocaine into lines.
These lines of cocaine are often cut using a razor blade or credit card, which also may have white residue. It is then snorted through a small tube, such as a straw or rolled-up dollar bill.
Other signs of cocaine abuse might be:
- changes in behavior and mental health
- dilated pupils (known as “cocaine eyes“)
- changes in sleep patterns
- paranoia, which may be a sign of psychosis from cocaine use
Cocaine Addiction Treatment In New England
If snorting cocaine has become a habit that you no longer feel in control of, consider visiting Spring Hill Recovery Center for cocaine addiction treatment.
Whether you need detox or aftercare, we will be with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the physical and behavioral health care you need to curb your drug use.
Reach out to us today to learn more.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) | National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) — How toxic is cocaine? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1638909/
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) | National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) — The importance of considering polysubstance use: lessons from cocaine research https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30195242/
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — How is cocaine used? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/how-cocaine-used
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — What are the long-term effects of cocaine use? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use