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The Dangers Of Snorting Crack Cocaine (Insufflation)

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

February 18, 2019

Crack cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that can be smoked or snorted. Snorting this potent drug is extremely dangerous and can result in severe damage to a person’s heart, lungs, and mental health.

The Dangers Of Snorting Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is a processed and less expensive form of the illegal street drug, cocaine. Crack can be smoked, snorted, or injected. Regardless of the mode of use, this drug can lead to dependence and addiction after a single use.

Crack cocaine can be identified as a white or off-white “rock” of powder, that makes a crackling noise when smoked. Snorting crack cocaine, or using this drug in any form, can lead to cardiovascular and mental health issues.

When a person snorts crack cocaine (insufflation), they risk permanent damage to their nose and nasal passages. Snorting any drug can result in sores and infection inside the nose, and crack cocaine can cause holes (perforation) in a person’s septum.

What Happens When You Snort Crack Cocaine?

Snorting crack cocaine causes side effects similar to cocaine, including extreme energy, increased body temperature, and dilated pupils. This central nervous system stimulant may also cause a person’s body to shake or twitch with tic-like movements.

The high from crack cocaine is intense but short-lived. A person abusing crack cocaine will likely experience strong cravings for the drug soon after their last dose.

This intense craving, coupled with the stimulant properties of crack cocaine, can cause a person to exhibit paranoia and violent behavior. Crack impacts and changes the brain’s reward system, and snorting this drug can lead a person to think and behave in unpredictable ways.

Why Do People Snort Crack Cocaine?

When powder cocaine is processed with other chemicals, it results in freebase or crack cocaine. Individuals that snort crack may be addicted to the intense rush that the drug causes.

Sometimes called an “upper,” crack cocaine can result in feelings that range from excitement to paranoia. Crack cocaine speeds a person’s entire body up, causing the heart to race and the body to overheat.

A person may snort crack cocaine for a number of reasons, including curiosity about what happens if you snort crack instead of smoking it.

Individuals addicted to crack cocaine may also be in a situation without the necessary paraphernalia (usually a glass pipe). When this happens, a person craving a hit of crack cocaine may resort to snorting the drug instead of smoking it.

Some people may wrongly assume that snorting crack cocaine is safer than smoking it. But this drug, whether smoked or snorted, is the riskiest form of cocaine and can cause long-term damage to the body and mind.

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Dangerous Side Effects Of Snorting Crack Cocaine

There are serious health risks associated with snorting crack cocaine. Regardless of the method of use, the side effects of this drug can be hazardous to a person’s physical and mental well-being.

Additional side effects of snorting crack cocaine include:

  • agitation
  • aggression
  • depression
  • extreme alertness
  • sleeplessness
  • nosebleeds
  • restlessness
  • agitation
  • euphoria
  • runny nose
  • mood swings
  • erratic or unpredictable behavior

When a person snorts crack cocaine, they also run the risk of damaging their nasal passages. This can cause permanent issues with the nose, including respiratory problems, loss of sense of smell, and recurring infection.

Crack abuse can also cause severe damage to a person’s mental health. Even one instance of crack cocaine use can result in a person suffering from hallucinations, delirium, and severe mood disturbances.

Crack is also linked to a number of potentially fatal health risks, including:

  • stroke
  • malnourishment
  • brain bleeds
  • congestive heart failure
  • heart attack
  • heart disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • tuberculosis
  • respiratory failure
  • seizure
  • sudden death
  • overdose

Crack Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

Individuals abusing crack cocaine may swiftly find themselves in the cycle of dependence and addiction. Any amount of crack cocaine use can also result in fatal and nonfatal overdose.

When a person becomes dependent on crack, their body requires regular doses of the drug in order to function. This can cause a person to become preoccupied or solely focused on obtaining more of the substance (addiction).

Crack cocaine is a highly processed chemical that can be diluted or “cut” with many different substances. When a person abuses crack cocaine through insufflation, they are ingesting large amounts of unknown substances along with high doses of the drug.

Frequent, high doses of crack cocaine can result in overdose. If a person snorts crack cocaine and is also taking other substances, the risk of overdose heightens.

A person suffering crack cocaine overdose may display symptoms such as:

  • confusion
  • high blood pressure
  • elevated body temperature
  • psychosis
  • tremors
  • stupor
  • seizure
  • nausea
  • excessive sweating
  • stroke

Getting Help For Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine is considered one of the most addictive substances in the world. For individuals and families that have experienced the devastation of crack cocaine, help is available in the form of addiction treatment.

Inpatient (residential) treatment centers are supervised, protected environments that offer on-site detoxification and therapy. Outpatient rehab programs provide treatment on a more flexible schedule.

Because crack cocaine can lead to mental health concerns, dual diagnosis treatment can assist individuals that suffer from mood disorders.

To learn more about the dangers of snorting crack cocaine, or to find the best treatment options near you, reach out to one of our specialists today.

Center for Substance Abuse Research - Crack Cocaine

MedlinePlus - Cocaine

National Institute on Drug Abuse - What is cocaine?

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Signs of Cocaine Use

The United States Department of Justice - What is crack cocaine?

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