Hydrocodone is an opioid painkiller and antitussive derived from morphine. It is found in products like Vicodin, Lortab, and Hycotuss.

Since it is an opioid drug, hydrocodone binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, relieving pain, suppressing cough as it slows breathing rate, and leading to pleasant relaxation that triggers the brain’s reward system and can be addictive for some people. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that, since 2009, hydrocodone drugs have been the second most frequently encountered pharmaceutical drugs seized in drug busts and presented as evidence to local, state, and federal crime labs.

In 2013, there were 136.7 million prescriptions for hydrocodone products dispensed in the United States. Since the drug was moved from Schedule III to Schedule II in 2014, making it harder to get refills of this drug, the amount of prescriptions for medications containing hydrocodone has gone down, but it is still high, with 93.7 million dispensed in 2016 and 83.6 million dispensed in 2017. Diversion of hydrocodone-based drugs primarily involves prescription fraud, stealing from friends or family, diverting one’s own medication, robberies, and purchasing from illicit websites.

As a prescription medication, hydrocodone drugs are found as tablets, both extended-release (XR) and immediate-release (IR) tablets; capsules; cough syrup; and liquid solutions in both immediate-release (IR) and extended-release (XR) forms. Extended-release versions of hydrocodone drugs are intended to relieve moderate-to-severe pain for up to 12 hours, moving slowly through the digestive system and releasing pain-killing medication for much longer than average. Immediate-release drugs can relieve pain for four hours to six hours, depending on the formula.

Can You Snort Hydrocodone?

Can You Snort Hydrocodone?

You may wonder, can you snort hydrocodone? The answer is yes, you can. Individuals who desire to get high will snort crushed up hydrocodone pills to feel the effects quickly. 

Another question often asked is can you snort Vicodin. Again, the answer is yes, because Vicodin is the brand name for hydrocodone. In fact, opioids are one of the most regularly abused prescription medicines. 

Individuals who crush up the tablets and inhale them through the nose may experience an intense but short-lived high. Once they start to come down from that high, they might snort another dose of hydrocodone or Vicodin. When these two potent opioids are snorted in such a quick manner, the risk of overdose is a possibility.

The U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that illicit “hydrocodone has been encountered in tablets, capsules, and liquid form in the illicit market.” Additionally, drugs administered intranasally in liquid form are usually prepared into a spray. Nasal sprays of hydrocodone and Vicodin can cause significant damage to your nose. 

When hydrocodone is found as a substance of abuse, it is also typically found as a tablet, capsule, or liquid. This is because most of the abuse of this drug either begins because of a prescription or involves diverted medication.

The most common method for abusing hydrocodone drugs is through oral consumption, although the liquid solutions may be injected. In rare cases, however, hydrocodone abuse may involve other routes, including smoking and snorting the drug. When someone who abuses an oral medication chooses other means, they intend to become intoxicated faster than they would if the drug was digested. Digestion is the slowest method for intoxication while smoking and snorting are two of the faster routes.

Snorting Hydrocodone

Snorting Hydrocodone 

Snorting is one of the faster methods of becoming intoxicated, but it is not the fastest. It is an easier method of drug abuse than injecting or smoking because there is little paraphernalia involved in crushing and snorting drugs or making a nasal spray of it, compared to most other methods. 

When you snort a powdered drug like a crushed hydrocodone pill turned into a nasal spray, you’re sending those particles into your nose. This can result in distressing and painful complications, such as nosebleeds, irritation, redness, and inflammation of your nose and nasal tissues. Continued hydrocodone snorting often causes long-term effects on your nose, throat, and lungs.
When a drug is snorted, it is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and upper palate, where it then enters the bloodstream and is carried up to the brain. Effects from snorting a powdered drug, like cocaine or crushed hydrocodone tablets, can be felt in 2 minutes to 15 minutes. Between 30 percent and 60 percent of the drug enters the bloodstream from the mucous membranes, then the stomach.

Hydrocodone XR tablets are the most likely to be abused by snorting. Crushing them may bypass some of the time-release additives in the medication so that a large dose of the opioid can be consumed at once.

Not much paraphernalia is associated with crushing and snorting drugs, but there may be distinct side effects associated with this form of substance abuse. 

  • Redness around the nostrils
  • Damage to the inside of the nose, leading to nosebleeds and tissue decay
  • Coughing and runny nose
  • Septal perforation, or a hole in the cartilage between nostrils
  • If septal perforation is untreated, upper palate perforation (a hole in the roof of the mouth)

Not only does snorting drugs like crushed hydrocodone lead to nasal damage, but it can damage the throat and upper respiratory system. People who abuse hydrocodone or other drugs by snorting them are more likely to develop infections in the upper respiratory system, including pneumonia

This produces another perplexing question: why do people snort hydrocodone? Again, the reason this is done is so the individual abusing the drug can get high as quickly as possible. The more it is abused, the higher chance they will begin to feel the signs of chemical dependence, which are withdrawal symptoms.

Smoking Drugs Like Hydrocodone

Smoking Drugs Like Hydrocodone

Smoking any drug, from cigarettes to hydrocodone to crack cocaine, is the second fastest way to the brain, with injection being the only method that causes intoxication faster. The chemical enters the lungs and is absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly through the alveoli, which evolved to carry oxygen to the brain.

People who smoke hydrocodone may have paraphernalia in their room or around their house. They may use air fresheners, room deodorizers, perfumes, or fabric cleaners to cover the smells associated with smoking. They may develop a chronic cough, their voice may change, or they could have more frequent colds or cases of flu because of lung infections.

There are paraphernalia associated with smoking drugs, including hydrocodone. These include:

  • Cigarette wrappers
  • E-cigarettes
  • Empty pill bottles
  • Pipes
  • Lighters
  • Bongs
  • Tin foil with stains on it

Smoking or Snorting Hydrocodone Can Be Deadly

Smoking or Snorting Hydrocodone Can Be Deadly

Hydrocodone is not prescribed for home use in an injectable form, and there are no legal forms of this medication that require smoking or snorting. When someone abuses hydrocodone or another drug in this manner, they are likely struggling with addiction because they are trying to become more intoxicated more quickly.

At the same time, abusing hydrocodone or other drugs by snorting or smoking them reinforces compulsive behaviors that indicate addiction. The drug binds to the brain faster, but the high also goes away faster. This may contribute to a cycle of abuse called a binge, leading to more intense cravings, tolerance, and dependence. The rapid release and crash of neurotransmitters impact mood and behavior and fundamentally change brain structures to reinforce addictive behaviors.

If someone abuses hydrocodone by snorting or smoking it, they will appear more intoxicated more often or suffer from frequent crashes from substance abuse. They are also more likely to overdose, which may be deadly.

Signs of opioid intoxication include

  • Altered mental state, including confusion or delirium
  • Extreme sleepiness or fatigue, including “nodding” in and out of consciousness
  • Pinprick-sized pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Breathing problems
  • Slowed heart rate

Intoxication can lead to overdose quickly when someone abuses an opioid drug like hydrocodone. If overdose is suspected, call 911 immediately. Signs of an overdose include:

  • Passing out
  • Extreme confusion
  • Cold, clammy skin or turning blue
  • Rapid mood changes, including aggression
  • Repetitive vomiting
  • Shallow, slow, irregular, or stopped breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure

Opioid overdoses are often deadly when the person stops breathing and does not get medical attention. Ingesting an opioid like hydrocodone faster, by smoking or snorting it among other methods, can cause an overdose faster than oral consumption of the drug. Withdrawal from opioids, like hydrocodone, can be distressing and painful

Withdrawal Symptoms from Snorting Hydrocodone

Withdrawal Symptoms from Snorting Hydrocodone

The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that 9.7 million people abused prescription painkillers, which includes snorting Vicodin. It is entirely possible that all of them experienced some or all of the withdrawal symptoms below when they did not have the drug available to snort.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms




Runny nose



Muscle aches

Increased tearing




Abdominal cramping




Dilated pupils

Hydrocodone and Opioid Addiction

Hydrocodone and Opioid Addiction

Addiction to opioids like hydrocodone can start almost as soon as you feel the effects of the medicine. Drug addiction is defined as an irresistible craving for the drug, uncontrollable and compulsive use of it, and continued use of the drug despite harmful consequences. 

It is widely known that the longer you misuse hydrocodone, your system will become tolerant of its effects precipitating drug use again, perhaps in a higher amount. When you stop using it, you may begin to feel withdrawal symptoms, which is when the body is chemically dependent on the drug. This may compel you to snort hydrocodone or Vicodin again, which could result in an overdose.

How to Get Help to Stop Snorting Hydrocodone

How to Get Help to Stop Snorting Hydrocodone

If you or someone you care about needs to stop snorting hydrocodone, help is readily available. Substance use disorder treatment is designed to treat every problem area in your or your loved one’s life, from psychological to vocational and legal problems. Treatment for drug addiction is effective when you are fully engaged in recovery programs for three months, as indicated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Opioid use disorder (addiction) can be difficult to overcome, but it is treatable. Delphi Behavioral Health Group manages a network of mental health and substance use disorders treatment centers throughout the United States. We strive to exceed the national standards for addiction treatment in every center we manage. Our clients continue to give us high ratings and often refer others to us for help. We can help you win the struggle with hydrocodone or Vicodin addiction and set you firmly on a successful path to lifelong sobriety.

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