Snorting drugs into the nose is as old as snuff taking in the UK. Snuff is powdered tocacco which has been ground up so that it can be absorbed through the nasal membranes.

Other drugs can be snorted in the same way. The best known of these is cocaine but amphetamines and heroin can also be used in this way. What follows has been been written with amphetamine and cocaine in mind but the same methods and risks are involved with all drugs which are snorted.

How are the drugs prepared?

First of all the drug must be made into a fine powder. This is usually done by chopping the crystalline drug using a razor blade on a hard reflective surface such as a \P\Knew-2.gif ceramic tile or mirror\k\p. The drug will then be drawn into lines by the razor blade prior to be snorted up from the tile or mirror.

In order to ensure maximum absorption the powder must be ground to a fine dust. No matter how finely the powder is rendered it is still in a solid form and it may take between five and fifteen minutes before the drug is absorbed and the effects are felt.

How is the drug absorbed?

Inside the nose the fine powder is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal membranes. If you have ever had a nosebleed you will know how delicate these are and how close to the surface blood is.

As a natural defence against foreign bodies entering the nasal passages, the production of mucous will be boosted to protect these fine membranes in the nose thus making repeated administration by this method less effective.

What are the risks?

As with all ways of taking drugs there is likely to be some level of tissue damage at the point of entry. The fine membranes and delicate blood vessels in the nose can be damaged by the irritant qualities of both the drug and its adulterants. Amphetamine sulphate for example, is usually only 5% pure. In the long term this irritation can lead to damage and frequent nose bleeds. Cocaine also constricts the blood vessels near the surface of the skin and the membranes become starved of oxygen leading to tissue breakdown as a potential risk of prolonged use of cocaine by snorting.