Snorting Meth

Snorting crystal meth can cause severe health problems and lead to a meth addiction. People who snort the drug often escalate to smoking and injecting the drug.
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Snorting meth produces a long-lasting high as opposed to the quick rush that a person gets from smoking or injecting the drug. Within three to five minutes of snorting the drug, it produces an energetic euphoria that can last from six to 12 hours.

While smoking or injecting meth can more rapidly lead to a meth addiction, snorting the drug can also progress to compulsive use and other addictive behaviors.

However the drug is used, crystal meth rapidly enters the brain, creating a flood of the pleasure chemical dopamine. With frequent meth use, this dopamine surge alters the brain’s reward pathways, causing people to crave meth even more than they desire food, water or sex.

Snorting meth is sometimes referred to as “railing.” A method known as hot railing, which is like a cross between snorting and smoking the drug, is also popular among some meth users.

Hot railing involves inhaling lines of crystal meth through a heated glass tube and snorting it while it’s hot. The meth vaporizes as it travels up the tube, and it creates smoke that is exhaled through the mouth.

While some people mistakenly believe that snorting meth is safer than other methods of using the drug, people who start out snorting often progress to smoking meth or injecting it. Regardless of the route used, crystal meth can wreak havoc on a person’s mind and body.

Short-Term Effects of Snorting Meth

The energizing high from snorting meth is only temporary. When the stimulating effects of the drug wear off, people often plunge into a meth comedown, or crash, characterized by feelings of exhaustion, depression and anxiety.

To avoid these unpleasant side effects, some people repeatedly snort the drug in a vicious cycle known as binge and crash.

During a meth binge, a person might not sleep for days and won’t stop using until he or she runs out of meth or collapses from exhaustion.

When the crash hits, people may sleep for days and experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Experiencing a meth overdose, also known as overamping, is a risk any time someone uses meth.

Symptoms of a meth overdose can include:

  • Overheating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mental confusion
  • A clenched jaw
  • Chest pain
  • Extreme agitation
  • Paranoia

A person who is overamping can also experience potentially fatal health complications, including stroke, seizure or heart attack.

Long-Term Effects of Snorting Meth

Snorting meth can lead to an array of physical and psychological problems. With chronic use, a person may develop delusional thinking, including paranoia and hallucinations.

Meth psychosis can result in violent or self-destructive behavior. Some people who snort meth hallucinate that bugs are crawling on them. To get rid of the imaginary insects, they frequently pick and scratch their skin, causing meth sores.

Other long-term effects of meth use include:

  • Deterioration in thinking and motor skills
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Weight loss

A 2015 study in the journal Allergy & Rhinology notes that people who snort meth may develop difficulty swallowing and speaking.

Nasal Damage

Snorting meth can cause some of the same nasal problems as snorting cocaine, including hoarseness and nosebleeds.

Other long-term effects of meth use include:

  • Loss of the sense of smell
  • Sinus infections
  • Holes in the nasal septum

In a 2013 case report published in the Iranian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology, a woman who was addicted to meth presented with a hole in her nasal septum, the wall that separates the nostrils. The woman, who reported snorting crushed methamphetamine for three years, was suffering from a runny nose, congestion and nasal obstruction for three months before the hole appeared.

The patient also had a dry mouth, which is common with meth use. Decreased saliva production is one of the main factors contributing to meth mouth, an extensive form of tooth decay and gum disease that affects many meth users.

Can You Quit Meth Cold Turkey?

Quitting meth abruptly can be challenging. After the initial crash, which lasts for one to three days, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can persist for seven to 10 days.

Symptoms of meth withdrawal include:

  • Meth cravings
  • Agitation
  • Mood changes
  • Aches and pain
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Restless sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia

Cravings, mood problems and sleep trouble may persist for months after quitting.

Meth addiction treatment and rehab provides the best opportunity for safely overcoming withdrawal and beating a meth addiction. Treatment is available in an inpatient or outpatient setting to meet any individual’s unique needs.

If you or someone you care about is snorting meth and needs help quitting, consider contacting a meth hotline. Free helplines are available 24/7 and can provide more information about meth addiction and treatment options.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Amy Keller, RN, BSN
Content Writer,
As a former journalist and a registered nurse, Amy draws on her clinical experience, compassion and storytelling skills to provide insight into the disease of addiction and treatment options. Amy has completed the American Psychiatric Nurses Association’s course on Effective Treatments for Opioid Use Disorder and continuing education on Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). Amy is an advocate for patient- and family-centered care. She previously participated in Moffitt Cancer Center’s patient and family advisory program and was a speaker at the Institute of Patient-and Family-Centered Care’s 2015 national conference.

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