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The Dangers Of Snorting Meth (Insufflation)

Dr. Alan Weiner MD

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Alan Weiner, MD

February 18, 2019

Snorting meth can lead to consequences that include legal problems, addiction, and overdose. Meth abuse is also linked to serious health conditions like stroke, heart attack, and psychosis.

Meth is a powerful stimulant that can cause severe damage to a person’s health, relationships, and mental state.

Snorting meth is just as dangerous as injecting or smoking the drug. Some people think that snorting meth is safer because of this method of ingestion results in a less intense high. However, any use of this drug is extremely risky.

Meth is extremely addictive and can lead to dependence or overdose after only a single use. People that become addicted to meth may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop using, which keeps them dependent on the drug.

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant, or “upper.” This drug is similar to amphetamine, which is used to treat ADHD and sleep disorders. Meth is the stronger, illegal street version of amphetamine.

Meth is often cut with various toxins, including household chemicals like drain cleaner and acetone. The drug may come in crystal form and may look like small rocks or shards of glass. Street names for meth include crank, crystal, ice, and speed.

Snorting meth results in a strong sense of euphoria and well-being. While intense, the drug’s effects do not last long.

Meth is associated with binge-like behaviors. Sometimes referred to as a “run,” a binge occurs when a person ingests repeated doses of the drug over several days, in order to continue feeling its pleasurable effects.

What Happens When You Snort Meth?

When a person snorts meth, the reward system of their brain gets triggered. A rush of pleasure occurs, followed by an intense urge to repeat the experience.

Meth interacts with the brain’s reward system by increasing levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin. These natural chemicals impact physical movement and cause feelings of motivation and achievement.

Snorting meth can lead a person to feel alert and aroused. Meth affects a person’s judgment and can lead to risky choices such as criminal behavior or unprotected sex.

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Physical Effects Of Snorting Meth

Because snorting meth leads to a shorter and less intense high, some people may snort the drug in large, frequent doses. The more meth a person uses, the greater their chance of developing an addiction.

Meth can have startling effects on a person’s physical appearance. Extreme dental decay is known as “meth mouth” is one of the more commonly known side effects of snorting meth.

Meth can also cause major damage to the nose and nasal passages. If someone is snorting meth, they may experience nosebleeds, nasal infections, and sores around the nose.

Snorting meth may cause tactile hallucinations (a feeling of bugs crawling across the skin), which causes a person to scratch themselves.

Additional side effects of snorting meth include:

  • infected skin sores (abscesses or boils)
  • dry mouth
  • dilated pupils
  • rapid eye movements
  • twitching
  • dulled skin
  • weight loss
  • increased sex drive
  • insomnia
  • increased risk of HIV/AIDS
  • overdose

Stimulant drug overdoses have increased 30 percent in recent years — and when meth is combined with other drugs, the risk of overdose increases.

Meth overdose can be fatal. If you see a person with symptoms of a meth overdose, call 911 as soon as possible.

Signs of a meth overdose include:

  • chest pain
  • coma
  • irregular or stopped heartbeat
  • extremely high body temperature
  • seizures
  • stomach pain

Mental Effects Of Snorting Meth

Meth can have devastating effects on a person’s mental well-being, including not feeling happy or normal unless they are using the drug. While most drugs cause a shift in personality, meth can take an aggressive toll on a person’s psyche.

Meth is linked with a major comedown period (or “crash”) that may lead people to feel irritable, paranoid, and severely depressed. The longer a person abuses meth, the more difficult it can be to treat the negative mental effects of the drug.

Snorting meth may cause additional mental side effects, including:

  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • confusion
  • paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • distraction
  • memory loss
  • trouble forming thoughts
  • disturbed mood
  • depression
  • psychosis

Signs Of Snorting Meth

People struggling with meth abuse may display behaviors that clearly indicate something is wrong. One of the main signs of snorting meth is an abrupt change in personality, including erratic thinking and strange or violent behavior.

Additional signs of snorting meth include:

  • facial tics
  • a runny nose
  • repeated motor activity (pacing, pulling hair, etc.)
  • delusional thinking
  • erratic sleeping patterns
  • borrowing money
  • valuables going missing
  • stealing or selling possessions
  • lack of personal hygiene

If someone you love is exhibiting these signs, they may be suffering from meth abuse. Fortunately, effective treatment is available to help people recover from addiction.

Meth Withdrawal And Detox

Meth is one of the most addictive substances out there. Many people find themselves addicted to this destructive drug after only one or two uses. Because the chemical compounds in meth are so toxic, individuals that stop using suddenly may experience withdrawal.

Withdrawal is a complex group of symptoms that can include fatigue, tremors, and strong cravings for the drug. People experiencing meth withdrawal sometimes experience suicidal thoughts and may try to harm themselves or others.

Treatment centers across the country offer medical detox programs that help people safely pass through the withdrawal stage. Compassionate staff provides nutrition and medication that aims to keep patients comfortable during the detoxification process.

Getting Treatment For Meth Addiction

Addiction treatment centers help suffering individuals get back on their feet. Since meth abuse can cause serious physical and mental harm, it’s important to stay in treatment for an adequate length of time.

Spending at least 90 days in addiction treatment is linked to positive recovery outcomes.

Residential treatment centers can be a great fit, with therapies that include individual and family counseling, 12-step support, and sober living skills.

Outpatient rehab programs offer morning and evening sessions to accommodate those who are unable to attend inpatient treatment.

For more information on the dangers of snorting meth, or to find an addiction rehab center near you, contact one of our specialists today.

MedlinePlus - Methamphetamine

National Institute on Drug Abuse - What is methamphetamine?

National Institute on Drug Abuse - What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse?

U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health - Methamphetamine

U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health - The need for speed: an update on methamphetamine addiction

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