Nasal hygiene is important for individuals who use drugs intranasally to protect the delicate mucous membrane lining the nasal passages and minimize the risk of complications. But first, let’s look at the definitions.

What is Snorting?

What is Snorting?

Snorting, sniffing or inhaling is the process of absorbing a substance through the membrane in the nasal cavity (located at the back of the nose) and into the adjacent blood vessels. In medical practice, this is called the intranasal route of administration.

When a drug is insufflated, the substance comes into contact with the epithelial cells of the nasal membranes, where it dissolves or mixes with the mucus. Absorption of the drug can occur through two pathways: transcellular transport and paracellular transport.

After the substance enters the bloodstream, it is sent to the heart, enabling it to circulate throughout the entire body, including vital organs and the brain. Prior to interacting with receptors in the brain and producing its effects, the substance must traverse the blood-brain barrier—a highly selective and protective lining that separates the bloodstream from the brain. This differs snorting from oral ingestion, where the substance travels through the stomach and the liver, resulting in some loss due to metabolism. By choosing to inhale the substance, individuals often experience more potent and rapid effects since it typically takes around 5 to 10 minutes for the substance to reach the brain.

Snorting hazards

Snorting hazards

Snorting, or intranasal drug use, presents certain hazards and risks to both the nasal passages and overall health. Here’s an overview of the hazards associated with snorting:

Nasal Irritation and Damage: Snorting drugs can cause irritation, inflammation, and damage to the delicate tissues lining the nasal passages. Frequent snorting can lead to chronic inflammation, nasal congestion, and discomfort.

Nasal Bleeding: The repeated trauma from snorting drugs can cause nasal blood vessels to rupture, resulting in nosebleeds. Persistent or severe bleeding may require medical attention to prevent complications.

Nasal Infections: Snorting drugs can introduce harmful bacteria, viruses, or fungi into the nasal passages, increasing the risk of nasal infections. Infections may cause symptoms such as nasal congestion, discharge, pain, and fever.

Sinus Problems: Chronic snorting can lead to sinus problems, including sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) and sinus infections. Sinus issues may cause facial pain or pressure, headache, nasal congestion, and reduced sense of smell.

Nasal Septum Perforation: Prolonged and aggressive snorting can result in a perforation (hole) in the nasal septum, the cartilage that separates the nasal passages. Nasal septum perforation can cause nasal deformity, frequent nosebleeds, whistling sounds when breathing, and difficulty smelling.

Systemic Health Risks: Snorting drugs can have broader systemic health risks beyond nasal complications. Drugs can enter the bloodstream rapidly through the nasal mucosa, potentially leading to cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues, and damage to other organs.

Hygiene recommendations

Hygiene recommendations for snorting

OK, now let’s get down to business. Below I will describe the basic approaches to nasal hygiene for those who use substances intranasally. I will focus on the classic way of inhaling powdery substances through some device or directly. I know that there are more exotic methods of snorting, but for now, we will leave them out of the brackets.

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Avoiding Harmful Substances and Mixing

It sounds obvious, but I can’t help but say it. The most reliable way to protect your nasal mucosa is to minimize its interaction with highly active chemical reagents. However, some of them are more caustic, irritating and polluted than others. Some drugs may contain harmful additives or contaminants that can exacerbate nasal damage. Therefore, here, as always, it is important to choose adequate dealers and products of decent quality. Be mindful of the substances you are using intranasally.

Mixing different substances for nasal administration can increase the risk of adverse reactions and potential damage to the nasal tissues. It’s best to avoid combining substances or using multiple drugs simultaneously through the nasal route.

Cleanliness

Everything is simple here. Cleanliness is the key to health. This applies to every aspect that is part of the process. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before the start. Ensure the surfaces you use for drug preparation are clean and free from contaminants. Use clean equipment.

Equipment

Equipment for Snorting

It is better to do without additional objects in the nose. They do not particularly increase efficiency, but they can damage the mucous membrane with one movement. However, I understand the naivety of this advice, so I will continue.

Ensure that any equipment used for nasal administration, such as straws, tubes, or nasal sprayers, is clean and not shared with others. Use new or clean equipment every time to reduce the risk of harm to your nasal passages. Use disposable plastic or paper straws. The option with reusable steel snorters also has the right to exist, but they need to be cleaned and disinfected after every use.

Avoid sharing equipment with others to prevent the spread of infections.

And I ask only one thing – please never use paper banknotes. This is one of the dirtiest things we come in contact with.

Avoiding excessive force

Be gentle when snorting drugs. Excessive force can cause damage to the delicate nasal tissues. As I said, try not to use straws or other devices. But if you can’t do without them – act carefully and gently. Without haste, sudden movements and force.

Proper technique

Position the straw, tube, or other device properly in your nostril to direct the drug toward the nasal cavity without causing unnecessary harm.

We can now proceed to the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Crush your preferred pill or crystal into a fine powder. The finer the powder, the more effective it will be in covering a larger area of the nasal membrane. Smaller particles are absorbed more efficiently, as larger pieces tend to dissolve slowly or not at all, resulting in wastage and reduced absorption.
  2. It is advisable to prepare your nose by using a saline solution. Certain medicated sprays can cause irritation of the nasal membrane and impede absorption. You can create your own saline solution at home or alternatively, put 1-3 drops of water in each nostril. Moistening the nasal cavity facilitates absorption.
  3. Divide your powder into a few thin lines on a clean smooth surface, approximately 5 cm each in length. Starting with smaller quantities is advisable.
  4. Use new disposable straws or special snorters. Сutting straws into segments around 4-5cm long works well. Take your chosen straw and insert one end approximately 1 cm deep into one nostril, positioning it at an angle closer to the inner nasal wall (septum area). Direct the tube towards the fine powder.
  5. Exhale gently, ensuring the substance does not blow away, and use your free hand to close the other nostril. Avoid snorting at a 90° (straight) angle.
  6. Inhale as if you were sniffing a flower (not lightly, but not forcefully either). If you inhale too harshly, you may feel the substance dripping down your throat, which we aim to minimize. Try different levels of inhalation intensity to find what works best for you.
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Alternate Nostrils

If you frequently administer drugs nasally, it’s advisable to alternate nostrils for administration. This practice helps reduce the risk of nasal irritation and damage to a specific area.

Alternate nostrils for each line, allowing time for absorption (approximately 2 minutes after filling both nostrils). If desired, press the nostril you have just snorted with and inhale and exhale a few times through the clear nostril.

Nasal Cleansing

After drug use, perform gentle nasal rinsing with saline solution to flush out any remaining drug residue and reduce potential harm. Use a nasal spray bottle or a Neti pot to gently irrigate each nostril with the saline solution. These products can help flush out any foreign substances or residues from previous drug use, providing relief and reducing potential irritation. If there is no special devices or solution at hand, then a simple nose wash with water will be better than nothing.

It is not recommended to use water or saline spray after each line, but you may do so occasionally or at the beginning and after you have finished snorting all the lines. You can also use a wet cotton swab to clean your nose at the end.

Hydration is the key

Hydration is the key

In addition to rinsing after use, it is important to maintain the level of hydration of the nasal passages on a regular basis. To do this, it is important to do two things – regular rinsing and stable hydration.

Dry nasal passages can lead to irritation and damage. Regularly moisturize your nasal passages by using saline nasal sprays or rinses. Saline solutions help keep the nasal passages moist and promote the clearance of debris and irritants.

On Wikihow there is a guide on How to clean your nostrils.

There is also the practice of rinsing the nose with salt solutions. But in my opinion, salt solutions with improper preparation and approach can dry the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity and only aggravate the situation. Therefore, the most optimal choice is the saline solution.

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As for daily hydration, there are many rules and tips on how many liters of water you need to drink. But I will limit myself to one thing – take care to always have access to water and drink when you feel thirsty. Do not forget, do not delay, do not ignore this feeling.

Rest periods

Allow your nasal passages time to recover between drug use episodes. Frequent use can lead to chronic inflammation and tissue damage. Taking breaks and using alternative administration methods may help minimize harm.

Limit your frequency and dosage of intranasal drug use. It`s also can help to minimize the risk of complications.

Recognizing and managing complications

Watch for signs of nasal problems such as persistent nasal congestion, bleeding, pain, or changes in smell.

If complications arise, seek medical advice promptly. A healthcare professional can provide appropriate treatment and advice tailored to your situation.

Do not postpone health problems for later, and even more so do not continue intranasal use against the background of clearly noticeable symptoms.

Overall health and regular check-ups

Take care of your general health and well-being. A healthy body is better equipped to handle potential complications. Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get sufficient sleep to support overall immune function and healing processes.

Schedule regular appointments with a healthcare provider to monitor your nasal health and address any concerns or complications that may arise. If it possible, discuss your intranasal drug use openly with your healthcare provider to ensure appropriate care and support.

If you’re struggling with drug use, consider reaching out to healthcare professionals, addiction specialists, or support groups for assistance and guidance on harm reduction strategies and treatment options.

Education and Awareness

Stay informed about the potential risks and complications associated with intranasal drug use. Seek educational resources, workshops, or counseling that can provide information on harm reduction strategies and help you make informed choices. And the most important thing is to share knowledge with others, raise the topic of health and harm reduction among your friends, share resources and rules.

Summary

proper nasal hygiene

Nasal hygiene is crucial for individuals who use drugs intranasally to protect the sensitive nasal mucous membrane and minimize the risk of complications. Proper nasal hygiene measures include cleanliness, using sterile equipment, nasal moisturization, nasal cleansing, avoiding excessive force, taking rest periods, recognizing and managing complications, and seeking help when needed.

By following these recommendations, individuals can reduce the risk of nasal irritation, damage, bleeding, infections, sinus problems, and nasal septum perforation.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that drug misuse and addiction can have serious consequences for physical and mental health. Prioritizing your well-being by seeking professional help and exploring healthier alternatives to drug use is crucial for long-term health and recovery.

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