Meth is bad news no matter which way you look at it—or use it. This powerful and highly addictive psychoactive stimulant is known for ruining lives and turning its users into unrecognizable shells of their former selves in just a few short years. However, the way a person uses meth matters a lot. Depending on whether you snort, smoke, inject, or ingest orally, can affect how strongly you feel it, how quickly the effects take hold (and how long they last), as well as any potential health complications you might experience down the line. In this article, we’ll look at the differences between smoking meth versus snorting it, and whether one method is more dangerous than the other.
Inhalation Meth Use (Smoking)
Smoking is the most common route of administration for methamphetamine. The main reason why is that this method of use is fairly simple to carry out. It only requires a small pipe known as a “flute” and a lighter—two items that both are inexpensive and widely accessible. Another reason why smoking meth is the most common way it’s used is that this method can work with various forms of meth, including “ice” or crystal meth, as well as the more common powdered form, which is the least pure and also the least expensive.
What It Feels Like
Using meth in this way is ultra fast-acting. Smoking allows the drug to quickly enter the bloodstream through vapors and only takes a few seconds for the meth to take effect. When it does, the result is an intense high often referred to as a “rush” or “flash”. These feelings are short-lived, however. Although extremely pleasurable, this high only lasts a few minutes.
The Risks of Smoking Meth
Smoking of any substance irritates the lungs which can lead to respiratory complications or even cancer of the mouth, throat, or lungs. It can also cause several oral health complications such as the infamous meth mouth. Gum disease and sores is just the tip of the iceberg, as poor dental hygiene can also affect gastrointestinal functions, resulting in improper digestion and constipation.
Other risks include the transmission of HIV or hepatitis C if the pipe of “flute” is shared with others (as it often is). The nature of smoking meth can result in blisters and cracks in and around the mouth which in turn, can cause blood to get onto the mouthpiece. One of the most important means of harm prevention for using meth is to always use your own stem and mouthpiece.
Bodily damage aside, smoking also poses another unique risk. Users tend to consume higher quantities of meth than they would via any of the other methods. As such, smoking meth greatly increases the likelihood that a person will overdose. It is for this same reason that smoking meth is the most likely method to result in meth addiction.
Intranasal Meth Use (Snorting)
Snorting meth is another common method of use and is often the way new users are introduced to the drug. It requires no other equipment other than the powder form of methamphetamine and some sort of hollow object for controlling the path of the powder such as a straw or a rolled-up dollar bill.
What It Feels Like
Snorting meth takes a few minutes to take effect, typically between 3-5 minutes. The effects aren’t as intense as smoking, but the trade-off is a much longer-lasting, albeit weaker, high that lasts anywhere from 15-20 minutes.
The Risks of Snorting Meth
The negative health consequences of snorting meth are similar to the dangers of snorting cocaine (and fairly obvious). The nasal passages can become damaged leading to nose bleeds, sinus damage, loss of smell, chronic runny nose, and of course, difficulty breathing. Prolonged use can lead to permanent damage of the nasal structure including deformities such as a perforated septum, distorted nostrils, or a collapsed nasal bridge. All of these conditions can significantly increase the likelihood of infection which can exacerbate any deformities.
Which Is More Dangerous? Smoking Meth vs Snorting
If we have to pick one, smoking meth is more dangerous than snorting it. The nature of this administration method means that meth users will intake more of the drug per hit, heightening the intensity of the high as well as their likelihood to become addicted or to overdose. Plus, its disastrous effects on oral health and the lungs can make it difficult to simply manage the functions needed for day-to-day life.
But regardless of which way a person does meth, it’s still one of the most dangerous drugs a person can use. Both the short-term and long-term effects can be devastating and swiftly bring its users down a rabbit hole of bingeing and crashing. The results of this harmful cycle of drug use can result in long-term cognitive and neuropsychological damage that persists even after someone has stopped using. As such, it’s imperative to take action against methamphetamine addiction as soon as possible. A person can become addicted after a single use and waiting until their lives have spiraled out of control might still be too late.