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Snorting Meth: Side Effects and Dangers

Is Snorting Meth Dangerous?

Recreational use of methamphetamine by any means is always dangerous. It is a highly addictive drug with the potential for causing serious physical, psychological, and social problems.1-6 

Methamphetamine—also known as meth, chalk, ice, or crystal—is a potent stimulant that affects the central nervous system.1,3,4 It is a white, odorless, bitter tasting powder easily dissolved in water or alcohol.1,2,4,5 It may be taken orally but more commonly it is smoked, snorted, or injected.1,2,4,5 However it is used, the effects are the same; it causes a pleasurable sense of well-being (euphoria), increased activity, talkativeness, and decreased appetite. It raises heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, sometimes to critical levels.1-5

Recreational use of methamphetamine by any means is always dangerous.

Methamphetamine was developed early in the twentieth century for use in nasal decongestants and bronchodilators.1,5 Nowadays, it is rarely prescribed for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and for short-term use in weight loss treatments.2,5 Currently, the United States (U.S.) Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies methamphetamine as a Schedule II drug, meaning it is a drug with a high potential for abuse; using it may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.2,3,5,6 Legally it is only available through a non-refillable prescription.2

Short-Term Effects

Taken even in a small amount, meth can bring on the same health effects as other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines.1 Short-term effects from meth use may include the following:1,3,5

  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity.Short-term effects from meth use may include paranoia
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Faster breathing.
  • Paranoia.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat.
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature.
  • Seizures.

In addition, taking meth via snorting may cause nosebleeds, affect the sinuses, and damage the lining of the nose and the nasal cartilage.

Long-Term Effects

The physical effects of long-term meth abuse include liver damage.

Over time, the persistent abuse of methamphetamine results in severe damage to the nervous, circulatory, renal, and respiratory systems.2,5 The physical effects of long-term meth abuse include:1,5

  • Extreme weight loss.
  • Severe dental problems (“meth mouth”)
  • An increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Liver damage.
  • Kidney failure.

Meth has devastating psychological consequences as well, such as impaired memory, mood changes, insomnia, confusion, paranoia, delusions, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and psychosis.1,5

Treatment for Meth Addiction


Currently, there are no medications approved for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction. Treatment involves therapies aimed at changing behavior, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management interventions. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that aims to improve mental health. It seeks to identify and change negative thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors; regulate emotions; and develop strategies to cope with stressful life situations.7  Contingency management encourages individuals to remain sober and continue to engage in treatment by providing concrete rewards to incentivize abstinence.8

The Matrix Model is a comprehensive treatment program focused on behavioral change that uses many different therapeutic modalities, such as behavioral therapy, individual counseling, and 12-step support. The model also includes education for the individual and family, drug testing, and promotion of healthy activities. It is proven to be effective in reducing meth abuse.9

The problem of diversion

How Prescription Stimulants are AcquiredA lot of people in their 20’s can obtain prescription ADHD medications even though they don’t have a doctor’s recommendation. This is a big issue that can give way to widespread abuse. But where do these individuals get ahold of the prescription medications? According to a survey conducted by Recovery Brands in 2016, the majority of people between 18 and 28 years old get their hands on their doctor-prescribed ADHD stimulant medications from a friend. 20.4% get them via family, more than 18% through schoolmates, and 14.8% by means of a drug dealer. Those with a prescription are advised to keep track of their medications to treat ADHD in order to protect vulnerable college-age people from the consequences of abuse. Read more

Finding Help

There are many treatment facilities available to provide assistance to stop snorting meth. Frequent meth use can lead to adverse health effects and even death, and the risk increases with the length of time it is used.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: What is methamphetamine?
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). What is methamphetamine?
  3. U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. (2017). Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource Guide, 2017 Edition: Methamphetamine.
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). MedlinePlus: Methamphetamine.
  5. Center for Substance Abuse Research. (2013). Methamphetamine.
  6. U.S. Department of Justice. (2006). Methamphetamine Use: Lessons learned.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Nicotine).
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Contingency Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives (Alcohol, Stimulants, Opioids, Marijuana, Nicotine).
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): The Matrix Model (Stimulants).

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