Snorting Heroin and Other Ways to Take It

Learn the risks of heroin and how to overcome addiction.

Snorting Heroin

Table of Contents

Opioids have become more popular in the 2000s, but heroin goes back a lot further than its synthetic counterparts. Made from morphine, which is found in opium poppy seeds, heroin was invented in 1874 and was made commercially available in 1898.1 

 Heroin is still commonly used today surging with the increase in opioid addiction. Many people who are unable to find prescription opioids will use heroin as a substitute. There are many ways to use heroin, including snorting heroin, shooting it and more. This article will reveal more about heroin and how you or a loved one can overcome heroin addiction.         

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid. It is made from morphine, a natural substance extracted from the seed of a poppy plant. It may be mixed with other substances that change its texture and appearance. It comes in the form of a brown or white powder, or a sticky black substance known as “black tar” heroin.

Street Names

There are many street names for heroin. Some of the most common heroin street names include:

  • Dope
  • Junk
  • Smack 
  • China white 
  • Hero  
  • Beast 
  • Skag 
  • H 
  • Horse 
  • Brown 
  • Snow  

Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers

Heroin is an opioid, but unlike opioid pain relievers, it is not prescribed by a medical professional. However, many people who become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers end up snorting heroin because it provides the same high.   

When people cannot get prescription opioids from their doctor, they may end up scoring heroin on the streets.  

Side Effects of Snorting Heroin

After snorting heroin, the drug enters the brain and binds to opioid receptors located throughout the brain, including those that control pain and pleasure. It also affects heart rate, breathing, and sleeping. Heroin produces several side effects including the following:2

Short-Term Effects

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Flushing of the skin 
  • A heavy feeling in the arms and legs 
  • Severe itchiness 
  • The slowing of mental functions 
  • Nodding out   

Long-Term Effects

  • Insomnia 
  • Snorting heroin produces damaged tissue inside the nose 
  • Shooting heroin can lead to collapsed veins 
  • Constipation and other digestive issues 
  • Weight loss 
  • Loss of interest in sex and sexual dysfunction for men 
  • Mental disorders like depression and anxiety 
  • Infections in the areas near the heart 
  • Kidney and liver disease 
  • Respiratory conditions including pneumonia 
  • Abscesses 
  • Irregular menstrual cycle    

Signs of Snorting Heroin

The symptoms above are definite signs that a person has been snorting heroin. Nasal inflammation is another sign of addiction. Here’s a bit more about this condition.  

Nasal Inflammation

One very real side effect of snorting heroin is nasal inflammation. Nasal    inflammation is often caused by allergies, but it can also be due to introducing foreign substances, like heroin, cocaine, and other drugs, to the nasal passages.  

Nasal inflammation occurs when your sinuses, the spaces inside the head or nose, are inflamed for three months or longer. 3 It comes with its share of side effects. It interferes with mucus drainage making it difficult to breathe. The areas around the eyes can also become swollen and tender.    

Other symptoms include: 

  • Runny nose
  • Postnatal drainage in the back of the throat 
  • Stuffy nose 
  • Pain, swelling, and tenderness in other areas of the face 
  • Reduces sense of smell and taste 
  • Ear pain 
  • Headache 
  • Sore throat 
  • Fatigue 
  • Bad breath 
  • Constant coughing or throat clearing 
  • Pain in the upper jaw and teeth    

There was an unusual case where one woman who snorted heroin and cocaine was admitted into the hospital for rhinolalia, which is  characterized by an occasional regurgitation from the nose when eating food.4    

What Happens if You Snort Heroin?

If you fall into a habit of snorting heroin, you will begin to develop physical and psychological symptoms that include the following. 

Psychological Symptoms of Snorting Heroin

  • Irritability
  • Acting abusive towards others 
  • Spending time with people that use 
  • Using slang terms for heroin 
  • Showing signs of addiction including withdrawal symptoms 
  • Losing interest in the things you love 
  • Not being productive on a personal or professional level 
  • A desire to continue using heroin despite being aware of its damaging effects 

Physical Symptoms of Snorting Heroin

  • Needing to increase drug dosage due to developing a high tolerance 
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not available including insomnia, sweating, nausea, and more 
  • Refer to the long and short-term effects listed above 

Link Between Heroin Abuse and Other Prescription Drugs

Many drugs are responsible for addiction in America, but opioid abuse is on the rise. In 2019, almost 50,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses. 5

Opioids provide a morphine-like effect and are useful in reducing pain. They are often prescribed by doctors for this purpose. Unfortunately, opioids are also highly addictive. People often take more than the prescribed dosage, causing them to run out of medications sooner. When this happens, they turn to street dealers to freshen their supply.

If street dealers do not have their prescription available, they may take heroin instead. Heroin provides a euphoric effect that is like prescription opioids, making it an effective replacement.   

Other Ways Heroin is Abused

Snorting heroin is the preferred method for many individuals because it results in a delayed high. This delayed high means not as much of the drug will accumulate in the brain and drug addiction will be less likely to occur.   

On the other hand, some people prefer other methods due to the faster, more intense high it provides. Here are some other options they turn to.    


People that smoke heroin will feel the effects in ten to fifteen minutes, and the high will last for a few hours. It is usually performed by foil smoking in which the heroin sits on top of a piece of aluminum foil which is heated with a lighter. Once smoke is produced, it is inhaled with a straw. 6

Smoking heroin has been known to cause unpleasant respiratory side effects including bronchial spasms and asthma.       

Injecting Heroin

Injecting heron involves shooting the drug directly into the body via an IV needle. The drug goes into the bloodstream to provide intense results.  

Several risks come with injecting heroin. In addition to the drug being harmful in and of itself, injecting it can cause veinous sclerosis, a condition where the veins narrow and harden, making it impossible to use the same vein repeatedly. Most people addicted to heroin are undeterred and will simply continue seeking out new veins.  

Sharing needles is also dangerous. When people who use drugs share needles, they may catch diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.    

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Heroin provides a pleasant sensation that makes it highly addictive. Fortunately, there are ways to get help. Here are some examples of the steps that may be taken. 

Heroin Detoxification

The first step to overcoming heroin drug addiction is detoxification. During this process, a person must go through a period where they allow their body to detoxify from drugs.

During detox, individuals feel acute withdrawal symptoms that make them want to use again. That is why it is advisable to do a detox at a rehab facility. The medical staff will provide the client with medications to reduce symptoms and they will supervise them to ensure they don’t relapse.  


MAT is short for medically assisted treatment. There are three drugs approved for the treatment of heroin addiction: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.  

Both buprenorphine and methadone provide euphoric feelings like opioids, but the effects are not as intense, and the drugs are not as dangerous. Although they are meant to eventually wean patients off heroin, many stay addicted to them long-term.  

Naltrexone is made to block receptors in the brain from feeling the effects of heroin and other drugs to stop the cycle do addiction.  

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT stands for cognitive-behavioral therapy, and it is commonly used to treat heroin addiction and other types of drug addiction and disorders. It aims to identify psychological problems that may be at the root of addiction so people can learn healthier ways to deal with underlying issues. It allows clients to recognize shortcomings and increase self-confidence.  

CBT is often combined with medically assisted treatment to help people overcome dependence issues.   

How The PAC Program Can Help

There are many ways to overcome addiction, but experts say an inpatient rehab is most effective. Most inpatient centers start with assisted detox to rid your body of toxins. They follow up with effective therapies that teach healthy coping mechanisms. 

There are many rehab facilities out there, but The PAC Program stands out for its effective results. They take a three-phase approach that includes a residential phase in which clients identify underlying problems and find coping mechanisms.  

Their transitional phase is a time when clients reintroduce themselves to the ‘real world’ while engaging in 30 hours of therapy a week. The launch phase is when they step out on their own knowing they have Blueprints’ support if they need it.  

Addiction is a rocky road. Do not let heroin take over your life. Reach out to Blueprints today and look forward to becoming a happier, healthier you.    



If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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