Can You Snort Heroin?

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Heroin is a white or brown powder and opioid created from the Asian poppy plant. Heroin can be injected directly into a person’s vein using a needle or syringe. Additionally, it can be snorted or smoked. All ways of use can quickly enter the bloodstream, instantly causing a person to feel high. This intense high is what leads to heroin being very addictive.

In 2021, 1.1 million people aged 12 and older reported using heroin in the past 12 months.

Guardian Recovery will discuss the dangers of heroin, what can happen if you snort heroin and how to seek addiction treatment.

If you or someone you love has a heroin use disorder, Guardian Recovery is available to help. We are dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and individualized medically monitored detox program. To learn more about our programs, contact us today.

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Side Effects of Snorting Heroin

The side effects of snorting heroin include chronic runny nose, constant sniffing, nosebleeds, sores on the nostrils, holes in the septum, problems swallowing, and damage to the hard or soft palate in the mouth.

People may have the misconception that snorting heroin is safer than injecting heroin. However, it has been reported that heroin users who begin heroin use by snorting or smoking heroin first eased their transition to needle drug use. It is also increasingly common for heroin to be cut with other dangerous, potent opioids like illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a significant risk factor for overdose no matter how heroin is taken.

Long-term side effects of chronic needle use for heroin may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and liver or kidney disease. Additionally, heroin creates unique risks because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases from sharing needles or unsafe injection tools.

Long-Term Risks & Damage to the Nose

Snorting heroin can cause health risks specific to the nose and mouth.

All forms of heroin use are harmful to one’s brain, body, and, specifically, the central nervous system.

Snorting heroin can cause your nose’s blood vessels and tissue to break down, leading to frequent runny noses and nosebleeds. Over time, the damage to your nose can become severe.

Nasal septum perforation, a condition where holes develop in the septum (the wall between the nostrils), is a potential long-term side effect of snorting drugs like heroin.

How Is Snorting Heroin Different Than Injection?

Although snorting and injecting heroin result in the same goal of getting high from heroin, there are differences in each modality with various risks associated, types of materials used, and levels of dependency.

As people may believe snorting heroin is safer than injecting heroin, all heroin use is extremely dangerous and lethal as it leads to overdose and death.

Additionally, there may be differences in the length of time when using heroin and the duration of the high you may experience.

If your loved one is snorting heroin, you might find rolled-up money (bills), cut-up straws, razor blades (used to cut the substance into thin lines), and an off-white or brown powder residue.

With intravenous use, expect to see needles, syringes, and tourniquets. Homemade tourniquets could include shoelaces, rubber tubes, or belts. You might find torn-up and stained cotton balls or q-tips used to remove impurities from the heroin after it has been melted down. Metal spoons are frequently used to melt down the heroin; paraphernalia includes spoons that have been bent and burned (you might notice spoons are missing from your utensil drawer). Bottle caps can also be used to reduce heroin to a liquid. You might also find one or several lighters stashed away.

Absorption & High

For snorting, it takes about 5 minutes to feel the effects of the high of heroin.

For smoking and injecting, a person will experience the high immediately.

Because it can take a few minutes for a person to experience a high with heroin, there is a significant risk of overdose when snorting heroin.

You may wonder, how long does a heroin high last? Heroin’s duration depends on the method of administration. Heroin use by injection produces a high within 20 seconds, peaks around 2 hours, and lasts up to 4 hours or longer. For people who snort or smoke heroin, the effects of heroin may peak within ten minutes, with the nodding effect lasting as long as 4-5 more hours.

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Dangers & Health Problems Associated With Heroin Snorting

Using any toxic substance takes a severe toll on the body. Heroin is often cut with cancer-causing chemicals that lead to organ damage and disease. Complications like hypoxia and infection are known from snorting heroin.


Heroin can lead to respiratory depression and even brain hypoxia, a reduced oxygen level in the brain. This response can lead to severe brain injury or death. It is one of the most dangerous side effects of heroin and can occur with smoking, injecting, or snorting heroin and other opioids.


Other risks associated with snorting heroin include increased risk of infection, chronic constipation, infection of the lining of the heart, depression, and other mental health disorders.

Is Snorting as Addictive as Other Methods of Use?

The immediate sensation and intensity of the high are what leads to substances being highly addicting. With snorting, smoking, and injecting heroin, a person may experience an intense high within minutes or immediately. This is why all forms of heroin use are highly addictive and dangerous.

Over the past two decades, rates of heroin abuse, addiction, and overdose have climbed throughout the United States. Men and women of all ages, demographics, and personal backgrounds have been deeply affected by what is now known as a nationwide opioid epidemic.

In 2021, 1.1 million people aged 12 and older reported using heroin in the past 12 months.

Overdose Risks of Snorting Heroin

The overdose risks of using heroin are high. In 2020, more than 13,000 people died from an overdose involving heroin in the United States. This equals more than four deaths for every 100,000 Americans. The number of heroin overdose deaths was seven times higher in 2020 than in 1999.

At Guardian Recovery, we understand how difficult heroin withdrawal can be. Often, withdrawal symptoms are so severe that those struggling with heroin addiction return to using within 24 hours. The key to overcoming this obstacle is a medically supervised detox where withdrawal symptoms can be identified and treated immediately. Our team performs an in-depth initial evaluation and tailors a treatment plan unique to each client’s needs and recovery goals. We can provide 24-hour medical supervision and comfort care for our detox clients. Our medical and client support team’s goal is to ensure all clients have a safe and comfortable detox so they can begin the next phase in their recovery journey.

Fentanyl & Drug Additives

Fentanyl, a prescription opioid 100 times more powerful than morphine, is sometimes used to cut heroin or other street drugs. It may also be made into tablets that look like prescription medication. Many overdoses have occurred because people did not know that what they were taking was contaminated with fentanyl.

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At Guardian Recovery, we remain dedicated to providing our clients with a comprehensive program of heroin detox — one that focuses on much more than physical stabilization. In addition to emphasizing physical recovery, we tackle mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While we prioritize a safe and pain-free cocaine withdrawal, we offer individualgroup, and family therapy sessions, case management services, relapse prevention training, and aftercare planning.

Contact us today if you or your loved one is ready to begin an entirely new way of life and commit to long-term recovery. As soon as you call, we start developing a plan of action that begins with an initial pre-assessment. This assessment helps us determine which level of care is the most appropriate for each unique case. We identify potential coverage options if our medically monitored detox program is a good fit. We work closely with most major regional and national insurance providers. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation insurance benefit check.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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