Nosebleed from Cocaine: Damage from Snorting
Dangers of Snorting Drugs
Snorting (insufflating) a drug means inhaling it through the nose. This usually produces a quick high, taking 5 to 10 minutes to kick in as the drugs are absorbed into the bloodstream through the thin nasal membrane. Along with the typical nosebleed from cocaine use, there are many other dangers that come with snorting any kind of drugs, but for many drug users, it may seem worth the risk because snorting drugs can amplify their effects, and speed up the onset of the high.
Cocaine is often used by people in high-pressure careers and is glamourized in certain circles as an energy-boosting drug. It can provide feelings of euphoria, alertness, and energetic empowerment as it raises dopamine levels. The high from cocaine is not very long-lasting, wearing off and causing the user to experience low mood and lethargy, leading to more cocaine use, including binges that cause physical dependence, and addiction.
Along with addiction and other serious side effects of using cocaine like heart problems, seizures, anxiety disorders, high blood pressure, and behavioral health issues, snorting cocaine (and other drugs) can cause serious nose damage. The nose is not meant to inhale the powder, and because drug traffickers notoriously mix a variety of chemicals into their supply to make a higher profit, you won’t know what damage you are doing until it is already done. Some common chemicals that have been found in cocaine supplies include:
- Talcum powder
- Boric acid
- Anesthetic drugs
- Laundry detergent
These are all white powders that you may not be able to notice with the naked eye. They can scrape and cut your nasal passages, cause lung irritation, and more. Adding random chemicals into the body is never advisable, and even if you and your dealer think your cocaine is safe, when buying your drugs on the street you can never truly know what is in it.
Other drugs that are commonly snorted include methamphetamine (meth), heroin, opioid painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin, and prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. Rather than taking these drugs and medications orally, where they need to enter the stomach and the digestive system before hitting the bloodstream, snorting gets the powder straight into the bloodstream and into the brain.
6 Health Effects of Snorting Cocaine
Snorting cocaine can cause several serious health effects, including:
- Nose damage – snorting cocaine can cause nosebleeds, more serious issues like holes forming in the nasal passages and hard palate, and serious damage to the septum. This damage may be more pronounced if the drugs are cut with rough-granuled substances
- Sinus infections and a runny nose – consistently putting foreign substances inside your nose is bound to result in irritation, infection, and another discomfort. This risk is even more pronounced if you are using dirty money or used straws to suction the drug up into your nose
- Loss of smell – damaging nasal cells and constricting the blood vessels could cause you to lose some or all of your sense of smell and taste
- Problems swallowing and a hoarse voice – the nose and throat are interconnected parts of the body, and damage to one can result in damage to the other, resulting in difficulty swallowing, a sore throat, and speaking with a hoarse, rough-sounding voice
- Hepatitis and other infectious diseases – long-term use of cocaine can cause holes in the septum and hard palate, which may increase the risk of contracting Hepatitis C and HIV
- Lung and respiratory damage due to inhaling contaminants – Snorting up any random powders that drug traffickers have mixed into the cocaine, directly into the body. Some dealers will do anything to make a profit, and that includes mixing anything from boric acid to baking powder into their cocaine supply. These can damage the nose and lungs, causing serious issues including pneumonia, asthma, and COPD.
- Accidental overdose – some drug dealers will mix amphetamines or even fentanyl into their supply to extend it further, leading to serious health complications that can lead to seizures, coma, or death. In the case of fentanyl, just one hit can cause death. The NIH has reported that approximately 15,000 fentanyl overdoses were caused by contaminated cocaine supplies in 2020. You can also overdose on pure cocaine, as the drug is a stimulant that can drastically raise your blood pressure and heart rate, leading to stroke or heart attack, even in healthy, first-time users.
What Causes a Nosebleed from Cocaine?
Snorting cocaine makes the cells of the nose become irritated. Because the membrane between nasal passages and blood vessels is so thin, it can absorb drugs straight into the bloodstream. It is delicate and designed to filter out contaminants from the air and provide clean oxygen to the lungs.
The crystals of the drug, and the various cutting agents mixed into the cocaine irritate the blood vessels, causing them to constrict and rupture, reducing blood flow to the area and causing small bleeds inside the nose. Some of the chemicals cut into cocaine will cause larger tears and lesions as well. Once the effect of the cocaine wears off in the nose, the blood vessels will dilate again, returning to a normal amount of blood flow, bursting the damaged vessels, and causing a full nosebleed. This damage is only temporary, but over time, snorting any drug will cause permanent damage to the tissue.
Is Nose Damage Permanent from Cocaine Use?
Some of the nose damage is much more serious than a nosebleed from cocaine. With long-term use, nasal cavity cells stay inflamed for too long, and the insufficient blood supply to them causes them to die. Dead nasal cells begin to rot inside the nose, which causes holes in the tissue. This can lead to:
- A deviated or perforated septum
- Holes in your hard palate at the roof of your mouth
- Complete septum erosion, causing “saddle nose”, when the nose collapses and looks flat
Defeat Cocaine Addiction with Help from Resurgence
The best way to prevent a nosebleed from cocaine is to stop using the drug completely, and the team at Resurgence Behavioral Health can help. We are an addiction treatment center, focused on your health and wellness needs as an individual. We tailor our treatments to help you on your own drug rehabilitation journey.
We have a full team of licensed medical professionals, certified addiction counselors, licensed therapists, and other addiction specialists who truly care about helping you overcome your addiction and take control of your life back after drug addiction. Using a holistic approach, we offer numerous treatment resources, including:
- Medical care
- Medical detox options including medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- Educational programs
- Individual (one-on-one) therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy
- Teen addiction counseling
- Group therapy
- 12-step and SMART recovery groups
- Relapse prevention programs
We offer inpatient and outpatient treatment options and can connect you with sober living facilities and aftercare resources in your community.
If you or your loved one is struggling with cocaine addiction and needs help, please call us today at (855) 458-0050. We have trained addiction specialists standing by to take your call. With our years of experience, we will be able to help guide you toward the type of treatment and levels of care that will best help you.