The Dangers and Effects of Snorting Heroin

Heroin is not only extremely addictive, but it is also incredibly dangerous.1 While some people may assume that avoiding injection use and only snorting heroin is safe, there is no safe way to use this illegal opioid.1,2

Any use of heroin, including snorting, may result in a life-threatening heroin overdose, the primary signs of which include:3

  • Tiny pupils.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Problems breathing.

Other risks of snorting heroin include dependence, addiction, and numerous health problems.4

Short-Term Effects of Snorting Heroin

Snorting heroin will produce a very rapid high (euphoria) with effects that include:4

  • Flushing/warmth of the skin.
  • Heaviness in the extremities.
  • Inability to think clearly.
  • Itchiness.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nodding off (falling in and out of consciousness).

Long-Term Effects of Snorting Heroin

Snorting heroin may lead to a number of troubling long-term effects, including:5,6

  • Chronic runny nose.
  • Nasal pain.
  • Problems swallowing.
  • Nasal tissue damage and ulceration.
  • Holes in the nasal septum (the tissue separating the nostrils).

Other long-term effects of heroin that may occur with any method of use include:4,7

  • Insomnia.
  • Severe constipation.
  • Depression and other mental health disorders.
  • Lung complications, including pneumonia.
  • Irregular menstrual cycles (women)
  • Impaired sexual functioning (men).
  • Opioid dependence.
  • Opioid use disorder (addiction).

Snorting vs. Injecting Heroin

Some individuals may snort heroin, believing that is a safer alternative to injecting the drug.1,2 It is true that injecting heroin or any other illicit drug, for that matter, does have some very serious unique risks, including:7

  • Scarred veins.
  • Collapsed veins.
  • Bacterial infections of the heart valves.
  • Abscesses.
  • Clogged blood vessels.
  • Transmission of bloodborne diseases, such as HIV and HCV, through needle-sharing.

However, even snorting heroin has risks, including the risks of addiction, infection, and life-threatening overdose.7,8

Also, arguably one of the most frightening risks of injection use, HIV and other infectious disease transmission, while lower, is still a risk for intranasal users. Heroin use decreases inhibition and impairs judgment, often resulting in risky sexual behaviors (such as unprotected sex), which increases a person’s risk for getting HIV or other infectious diseases.4,11

Opioid overdoses have been growing significantly since the appearance of fentanyl and its analogues into the heroin market across the United States.12 It is not possible to detect fentanyl in heroin by smelling, tasting, or looking at the heroin powder, and heroin users may snort fentanyl-laced powder without realizing it.13 Unfortunately, it takes an extremely small amount of fentanyl to cause overdose and death,13 and with the ever-growing amount of this synthetic opioid in heroin all across the country,12 users put themselves at risk of overdose every time they snort heroin.

Heroin Addiction Treatment in Las Vegas, Nevada

If you are using heroin and you need help, we’re here to help you turn your life around. At our Las Vegas treatment center we help people get on the road to recovery from heroin addiction and back to living the lives they deserve.

Call our compassionate and helpful admissions navigators at to learn more about your treatment options, including everything from medical detox to help you withdraw from heroin safely to inpatient rehab to several forms of outpatient treatment, or to start the rehab admissions process. We will help you find the path to recovery that works for you.

If you’re worried about covering the cost of rehab, most insurance policies offer addiction treatment insurance coverage.

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When contemplating the costs of addiction treatment for yourself, child, or loved one, consider the costs, or consequences, of “things as they are now.” What would happen if the substance abuse or addiction continued? Rehab doesn't have to be expensive. We accept a variety of insurances. Learn more below.