Snorting and Injecting Cocaine: Means of Use and Abuse
Every year in the U.S., cocaine abuse is responsible for nearly half a million emergency room visits. As a highly addictive, powerful stimulant drug, cocaine produces many different physical and psychological side effects in the user. Long term cocaine abuse and addiction can also cause numerous health problems, some of which are irreversible and deadly.
Cocaine is a white-powder drug, and depending on how it is taken, can produce an intense high for a few minutes, to a slow-burning euphoria that lasts up to an hour. The following article will explore the different ways people can use and abuse cocaine, and what snorting and injecting cocaine can do to the user.
How do people abuse cocaine?
In its purest and also most expensive form, cocaine can be purchased on the black market as a white powder. Cocaine can also be cut with other substances that are similar in texture and color to pure powder cocaine, affecting the price, quantity, and also producing an unpredictable high. Most users will start out snorting powder cocaine. The high produced from snorting cocaine takes around ten minutes to begin and can last up to an hour. However, the high produced from snorting cocaine is not as intense as other means of taking the drug. The quicker the drug can get into the bloodstream, the more intense the high will be and the faster it will happen.
To produce a more intense, faster high, users will try to get cocaine directly into the bloodstream. The two ways of doing this are by smoking or vaporizing cocaine that’s been boiled down into a rock crystal, called crack cocaine, or by mixing powder cocaine in water and injecting it. The high from injecting cocaine can happen almost instantaneously. But it won’t last as long as a high produced from snorting cocaine. However, a high from injecting cocaine will be more intense.
What are the consequences of snorting cocaine, versus injecting cocaine?
When someone snorts cocaine, they are inhaling fine, chemical particles that are corrosive to the nasal tissues. People who snort cocaine will irritate the lining of the nasal passages, the throat, and the sinus cavities. Long term cocaine abusers who snort the drug are more prone to colds and sinus infections. Snorting cocaine will also cause post-nasal drip, nasal congestion, and frequent bloody noses that can be hard to get rid of. In worst-case scenarios, cocaine addiction via snorting the drug will destroy the nasal passages and inflame the tissues. The septum, which is the cartilage that separates the nasal passages, will perforate. If the perforations are large enough, the septum can collapse. Snorting cocaine can also cause dental problems and tooth decay. Inflamed nasal tissues and rotting teeth can also increase the chances of soft-tissue infections.
While the consequences of snorting cocaine are quite dire, injecting cocaine can lead to fatal, bloodborne illnesses. Drug users are at risk of sharing needles, and in cases of cocaine injection, this is a considerable risk. People who inject the drug also risk experiencing puncture scars, infections where the drug is injected into the bloodstream, and an increased risk of having an allergic reaction at the injection site. Also, injecting cocaine increases the effects of the drug on the rest of the body. Other long-term health consequences of cocaine abuse are more intense and can happen more quickly when a user injects cocaine versus snorts it.
Drug use significantly impairs a person’s judgment and their memory. Users may share dirty needles, either knowingly or accidentally, or trade sex in exchange for drugs. People who inject cocaine risk contracting HIV or hepatitis C. Cocaine abuse also accelerates the effects of these diseases. For any person who injects drugs, it’s crucial that they are tested for HIV and hepatitis C since transmission via drug use is high amongst this population.
What method of cocaine use is more common?
It is more common to snort cocaine than inject it. Once someone starts taking cocaine, the body and the brain become used to the drug and its effects. With more and more use, the person will develop a physical and psychological tolerance to the drug. They may even want to quit taking it but are unable to stop. Once they stop taking the drug or attempt to cut back on their own, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms take effect. The most intense withdrawal symptoms in cocaine addiction are a low mood and depression. A user will take cocaine again, even if it is just a small amount, to get rid of those effects.
When most people are introduced to cocaine, it is by snorting the white powder drug. But as their tolerance grows, they will seek more and more cocaine and may need to obtain a quicker high to ward off withdrawal symptoms. In these cases, users are likely to start injecting the drug to get a faster, more intense high. Unfortunately, injecting cocaine puts the user at incredible risk to deadly diseases, infections, collapsed veins, and all of the other health consequences of cocaine abuse.
People who are unable to get help for cocaine addiction risk getting or transmitting infectious diseases and causing long term, permanent damage to the heart and cardiovascular system. Even young people can increase their risk of having a stroke or heart attack if they abuse cocaine.
Although cocaine is incredibly addictive and hard to quit, getting help from a licensed drug addiction treatment center can help addicts achieve and maintain lifelong sobriety. In cases of cocaine addiction, users will need to stay in a medical detox center for a few weeks to safely withdraw from the drug. After detox, a combination of mixed treatment methods, therapies, and sometimes medication can help people stay away from cocaine and other drugs for good.
If you’re struggling with an addiction to cocaine, it’s never too late to get help. The representatives at WindWard Way rehabilitation center are standing by to help you and your family heal from drug addiction and abuse. Please reach out to them today to get started with an effective, customized drug treatment plan for you or a loved one.
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