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Ways to Take Cocaine: Can One Snort, Smoke or Shoot Up the Drug?

cocaine abuse

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Cocaine is a highly addictive and popular stimulant drug. Snorting cocaine is the most common and well-known way of abusing the drug; however, it is not the only one. This article looks into the different ways of abusing cocaine and how these methods differ in extend of their hazard.

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Table of Contents

What are the Ways of Abusing Cocaine?

There are several ways to abuse cocaine. Users tend to opt for snorting the drug, due to the powder being easier to obtain than other forms of the substance. However, other methods of consuming the drug are increasing in popularity.Man snorts cocaine with rolled up banknote

According to The National Institute On Drug Abuse, cocaine can be taken orally, intranasally, intravenously, or by inhalation. Cocaine shooting is one of those methods addicts use to get cocaine high. Cocaine shooting or intravenous administration is regarded as one of the most dangerous methods of taking the drug. This is down to its rapid effects and the fact that injecting anything without medical supervision is dangerous and can cause the spread of diseases.
Although taking the drug intranasally, or snorting the drug, it is the most common method and also dangerous. As well as the drug effects, this method damages the noses bridge over time.
Oral cocaine or inhaling the substance, are less common methods of consuming the drug. These methods tend to avoid small doses and for that reason are slightly less harmful. Orally, users also mixe the drug into food to lessen the effects. Nonetheless, all these methods are dangerous due to the addictive tendencies of the drug.

What Are The Dangers of Taking Cocaine?

Due to the number of methods to take the drug, including fake cocaine, that are available, it is often difficult to recognize each danger. For example, ingesting cocaine may be far less dangerous than shooting up cocaine, due to not using a needle. The following criteria will help to explain the dangers of each method and help to give a scale of danger.

Oral Cocaine

  • Danger Level (0-5): 4
  • Speed to take effect and length of effect: Can take up to an hour and lasts for at most 30 minutes

This method is still addictive but has the weakest effects of all the methods. The drug is taken orally in different ways. One of the main dangers here is that it takes so long to affect, it encourages larger, more frequent doses and increases the chance of an overdose.

Snorting Cocaine

  • Danger Level (0-5): 4.5
  • Speed to take effect and length of effect: 10-20 minutes to kick in but lasts 15-30 minutes

Highly addictive and the remnants of the dose remain for a while after. It can take a while for the nose to recover, and the nasal bridge can become damaged over time. The difference between someone’s body and cocaine effects before and after use will be very apparent with this method.

Injecting Cocaine

  • Danger Level (0-5): 5
  • Speed to take effect and length of effect: Less than 30 seconds and lasts 15 minutes at most

Highly addictive and can damage the veins. In addition to that, there is a chance of needles not being sterile and transmitting diseases.

Smoking Cocaine

  • Danger Level (0-5): 5
  • Speed to take effect and length of effect: Almost instant and lasts 5-10 minutes

The most addictive form of the substance as smoked cocaine is nearly always mixed with other dangerous and addictive substances. This is especially bad for the lungs and heart.

Is There a Less Harmful Way to Use Cocaine?

The most common and popular way of abusing the drug is to snort it. Through this method, the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream by nasal tissues, ensuring the user gets cocaine high. However, different types of cocaine classification may change this. For example, if the substance in use is crack cocaine, then it is much more likely to be smoked by the user.

When smoked, crack cocaine’s effects are almost instant, as the chemicals reach the brain far faster. This also makes the high more intense and increasingly addictive. Despite this, both cocaine snorting and smoking the substance are equally dangerous.

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Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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