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A common way of taking a drug is to snort it, either directly up the nose from a smooth surface or through a straw or rolled up banknote. Some people use a ‘bullet’ or ‘bumper’ which are nasal inhalers used to snort cocaineketamine or mephedrone.

The drug enters the bloodstream through the blood vessels that line the inside of the nose and is then taken to the brain. The effects usually kick in after a minute or so but it can take up to 10 minutes. Mephedrone can give an almost instant hit, especially if you’re new to the drug.

Snorting gives a quicker, stronger hit than swallowing.

With poppers the fumes are breathed in through the nose.

When snorting drugs, skin around the nose or inside it can be damaged, causing bleeding. It’s easy to spread and get infected with hepatitis C when snorting equipment is shared.

With heavy use, cocaine can eat away the septum, the fleshy bridge of cartilage between the nostrils.

Safer snorting

  • Avoid sharing snorting equipment like straws, banknotes and bullets. Microscopic amounts of blood can pass from one irritated or raw nose to another when equipment is shared, spreading hepatitis C. Post-it notes or coloured drinking straws are a safe alternative – make sure to use a fresh one for each person.
  • Rinse what’s left of the drug out the nostril after snorting to cut the risk of it damaging the inside of your nose. You can do this with sterile water or a salt-water nasal spray.
  • Alternate the nostrils to minimise damage to them.

Next: Smoking ››

‹‹ Previous: Swallowing

Published: 30/08/2018
Next review: 30/08/2021