Methamphetamines are powerful stimulants that are primarily used as recreational drugs. Meth is a particularly addictive drug that can cause substance use disorders after a relatively short period of consistent use. The stimulant causes an intense but short-lived euphoric high that’s characterized by feelings of empowerment, high energy, excitement, and racing thoughts. 

Meth is taken in several different ways, and each method of administration can have some unique effects. The drug can be smoked, snorted, and injected intravenously. People that are seeking a meth high are often looking for fast-acting and potent effects. Unlike swallowing a pill, snorting and smoking meth cause the drug to enter your bloodstream quickly, without having to wait for the digestion process. So, how long does a meth high last? The resulting euphoric rush can occur almost immediately and lasts for a few minutes. The high is short, but the drug can have effects for hours after that, some of which are unpleasant. 

Meth is a powerful substance no matter how you take it, but snorting and smoking the stimulant may come with a unique set of potential dangers. But what does snorting meth do, and how does it compare to when it’s smoked. Learn more about snorting and smoking meth and why it’s dangerous?

Meth Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that methamphetamine is a significant drug of abuse. Street meth, or crystal meth, is a privately and illegally manufactured substance that contains numerous additives that can be toxic. Pharmaceutical methamphetamine goes by the brand name Desoxyn. This is a legitimate medication that can be used in the treatment of narcolepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Meth is a controlled substance due to its potential for abuse and the very real likelihood that individuals taking the drug will develop a physical dependence on it. It is listed in the Schedule II category of controlled substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — a category that also contains drugs like cocaine and the majority of opioids. These drugs have legitimate medical uses, but they are very dangerous if not used under the supervision of a physician.

Any use of meth is incredibly dangerous. When the drug is snorted or smoked, it comes with additional risks.

How Does Meth Work?

NIDA and the DEA have documented the mechanism by which meth works. It is a powerful stimulant medication that results in the release of excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.

Initial Feelings Associated With Methamphetamine Use And Abuse Include:

  • Increased energy
  •  Increase in autonomic nervous system functioning, such as heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  •  Heightened feelings of awareness. Decreased appetite and a decreased need for sleep

The medication has a paradoxical effect when used in small doses by individuals with attention issues like ADHD. Meth actually helps these individuals to focus better and lowers their physical activity levels, whereas in people without such a disorder, the drug produces stimulant-like effects.

Abusers of the drug experience dysfunctional levels of hyperactivity and decreased attention, and can even experience hallucinations and paranoid delusions.

Meth Abuse Statistics

According to the latest data provided by the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  •  In 2017, 14.7 million individuals reported some lifetime use of meth.
  •  In 2017, 1.6 million individuals reported using meth within the year prior to the survey.
  •  In 2017, 774,000 individuals reported using meth within the month prior to the survey.
  •  Of the individuals reporting past-month use of meth, 564,000 were Caucasian.

The Effects of Meth Abuse

Meth abuse produces rapid euphoria, increased energy, and feelings of invulnerability. People using meth may become irrational and even psychotic, particularly when large amounts of the drug are used in a bingeing fashion.

The effects occur rapidly and then dissipate quickly, leading to feelings of:

  •  Hopelessness, depression, or apathy.
  •  Irritability, restlessness, and nervousness.
  •  An empty feeling and an intense need to recapture the euphoria produced by the drug.

Because the drug wears off rapidly, individuals will binge on the drug in an attempt to maintain the associated euphoria, energy rush, and perception of heightened awareness.

Snorting Meth Vs. Smoking Meth

Two of the most common methods of abusing meth are to grind up shards of crystal meth and snort or smoke them. Another common method of abuse is to inject the drug.

There are major differences between snorting and smoking the drug.

  • Snorting results in the drug exerting its effects more quickly. It is delivered into the central nervous system more quickly than by swallowing it. Smoking the drug results in a much more efficient delivery to the brain than snorting it.
  • The initial effects of the drug wear off quickly when one snorts it; however, they wear off even more quickly when one smokes it.
  • Snorting meth will greatly increase damage to the nasal tissues. Smoking the drug will result in more significant damage to the lungs and more rapid development of respiratory problems.
  • Physical dependence on meth (the development of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms) occurs rapidly, but it will occur more rapidly in individuals who habitually smoke the substance.
  • The long-term detrimental effects of snorting meth and smoking meth are similar. However, habitual smokers of the drug will most likely experience more severe effects, and they will occur in a shorter period of time. This is due to the drug being more efficiently delivered into the central nervous system and to other organs.

Smoking is one of the most common ways that recreational drug users introduce meth to their systems. Smoking allows the drug to make its way into your bloodstream in the same way oxygen does by being absorbed by your lungs. Because the lungs are designed to absorb oxygen, smoke from meth can be administered into your bloodstream quickly before reaching your brain, where it causes its psychoactive effects. But smoking comes with some unique dangers.

Smoking any substance poses a particular threat to your mouth, throat, and lungs. Even mild substances can irritate your lungs when you inhale smoke. However, meth can be particularly damaging to your lungs. Meth can act as a vasoconstrictor, which means that it narrows blood vessels in the lungs. Because of this, chronic meth use can cause damage to the lungs. It can increase the blood pressure of the arteries in your lungs, which can further contribute to lung damage. 

These damaging effects on your lungs can increase your risk of inflammation, infection, pneumonia, and respiratory failure. You may have trouble breathing and struggle to get enough oxygen to your lungs, and you may not be able to remove carbon dioxide from your body efficiently. 

Smoking is one of the most common ways to take stimulants, but can you snort meth? Do people snort meth? Besides intravenous injection, snorting is among the fastest ways to feel the effects of meth. There is a high concentration of delicate blood vessels in your nasal passageways. Snorting meth allows the drug to be absorbed into your bloodstream through these blood vessels, which causes it to reach your brain quickly. 

Snorting any substance can be potentially dangerous. You may irritate your nostrils, nasal passages, and throat. You may also choke if you snort too much powder at once. Snorting can also introduce fine powder to your lungs, which can damage your respiratory system. Snorting meth can lead to inflammation of your nasal passages, which can cause damage, infections, and nosebleeds. Chronic meth snorting may increase your risk of losing your sense of smell or your ability to breathe out of affected nostrils.

Long-Term Physical Consequences of Meth Abuse

Research has identified numerous physical consequences associated with the abuse of methamphetamine.

  •  Substantial weight loss and an unhealthy, gaunt appearance
  •  Sores developing on the skin
  •  Very dry and cracked skin
  •  Problems with dentition, particularly tooth loss and corrosion
  •  Chronic nosebleeds or runny nose
  •  Increased potential for nasal infections, particularly from chronic snorting
  •  Burn marks around the mouth, nose, or on the fingertips for individuals who smoke the drug
  •  Various cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure and heartbeat irregularities
  •  Damage to the liver
  •  Kidney damage
  •  The development of respiratory issues and lung damage
  •  Increased potential to develop infections due to compromised immune system functioning
  •  Tremors or other motor problems due to changes in the brain
  •  Significant tolerance to meth
  •  Withdrawal symptoms when one cannot use the drug

Cognitive and Emotional Consequences

Meth abuse leads to many changes in the pathways of the brain. This can lead to numerous cognitive and emotional issues.

  •  A constant cycle of massive neurotransmitter release and depletion can lead to individuals having difficulty experiencing pleasure from activities other than drug use.
  •  Problems with basic cognitive functions become apparent in chronic users of meth, including issues with paying attention, remembering new information, and judgment.
  •  Chronic meth users may become depressed, irritable, or nervous when they are not using the drug due to the changes in the brain.
  •  Over time, the development of tolerance to meth results in the person not experiencing significant pleasure or euphoria from using the drug. Instead, they use the drug to avoid the negative feelings associated with withdrawal or as a result of changes in the neural pathways of the brain.
  •  Those who chronically abuse meth demonstrate problems with emotional control and impulsivity. They are more likely to experience psychotic episodes.

Which Is Worse: Snorting Or Smoking Meth?

The effects of smoking meth can lead to a more rapid cycle of deterioration with significantly more adverse effects in a quicker timeframe, but snorting meth can also produce serious issues at a less rapid pace. Ultimately, it really depends on the person, the frequency and amount of the drug they use, and other issues.

For the most part, individuals who smoke meth will experience these issues at greater levels of severity and more quickly than individuals who sort the drug. However, these negative effects occur in anyone who abuses meth in any manner.

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