What happens when you snort hydrocodone?

When you snort hydrocodone, you deliver a concentrated dose of the opioid almost immediately to the brain. You can get high and you risk developing hydrocodone dependence, experiencing overdose, and adverse side effects. More on snorting hydrocodone here.

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When you snort hydrocodone

Snorting hydrocodone is risky and dangerous. One of the biggest risks you run is overdosing on hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is usually mixed with other substances one of which is acetaminophen. Acetaminophen, though used in a lot of over-the-counter medications, can be poisonous if used in high quantities.

What else do you risk when you snort hydrocodone? What does snorting hydrocodone do in the body? And is it safe? We review side effects of snorting hydrocodone and its potential dangers here. Then, we invite your questions about hydrocodone use and treating hydrocodone addiction at the end.

What does snorting hydrocodone do?

Snorting hydrocodone allows the psychoactive agent to enter the bloodstream more quickly than oral administration. In general, this method of administration is faster and more intense…but the drug’s action will usually wear off quicker. By comparison, it can take thirty minutes for hydrocodone to work orally, because it has to be digested and pass through the intestinal wall to enter the bloodstream.

When you snort hydrocodone, the concentrated opioid travels through the nasal cavities and passes through the mucus membrane into the bloodstream.  When it enters the bloodstream, it passes the blood-brain barrier almost immediately, providing analgesic and euphoric effect on the body. While inhaling hydrocodone powder seems more effective, you risk negative side effects and damage to your body, including the need to seek hydrocodone addiction help after regular snorting.

Is snorting hydrocodone bad for you?

Yes, snorting is bad for you. Plus, it’s illegal.

Hydrocodone is not designed to be taken nasally. After regular abuse, you can damage your nasal passages. Continual snorting of hydrocodone can also damage sinus cavities. You can eventually lose your ability to smell and process mucus that help your body defend against bacteria. You can’t repair this. Once the damage has been done, there is no treatment to fix it.

Not only can you cause permanent damage to your body, you also risk of hydrocodone addiction, hydrocodone overdose, and potential fatalities when you snort hydrocodone. In fact, overdose is one of the biggest dangers you face when snorting hydrocodone.

Is snorting hydrocodone dangerous?

YES. Snorting hydrocodone is risky and dangerous. One of the biggest risks you run is overdose. Hydrocodone is concentrated when snorted. This concentrated form floods the opiate receptors in the brain. The more you snort, the more you increase risk of overdose due to increased tolerance. In other words, when you need higher and higher doses of hydrocodone to achieve the same initial effect, you can overdose. Signs of overdose include:

  • bluish skin
  • clammy skin
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • seizures
  • shallow labored breathing
  • stopped breathing
  • vomiting

Many people ignore the risks of overdose because snorting hydrocodone is effective in speeding up not only the analgesic effect of hydrocodone, but also induces a euphoric high. Snorting hydrocodone allows the drug to get into the body faster. This is one reason painkillers are abused and continue to grow in abuse and addiction. However, keep in mind that continued snorting can increase the risk of hydrocodone addiction because it works well for self-medication: not only of your pain, but for environmental triggers as well. Snorting hydrocodone contributes to hydrocodone dependency and tolerance, as well, speeding up the processes and making it difficult to stop and withdrawal from hydrocodone.

Is snorting hydrocodone effective?

Yes. Snorting hydrocodone is effective because it is a direct route of administration which affects the central nervous system. In effect, snorting hydrocodone is a direct route to the brain. Because the GI tract hasn’t filtered through some of the ingredients you are fully exposed to the effects of hydrocodone. That is why you get high when you snort hydrocodone; feelings of euphoria and calm, and relaxation dominate your senses. But just because when you snort hydrocodone the effect is quicker doesn’t mean you should start snorting hydrocodone. Reasons you shouldn’t snort hydrocodone include:

  1. analgesic action wears off faster
  2. damage to nasal and sinus cavities
  3. increased development of dependency
  4. increased risk of addiction
  5. risk of overdose

Can you snort hydrocodone?

While it may be tempting to snort hydrocodone, there is no added medical benefit to snorting hydrocodone. In fact, the only difference snorting hydrocodone provides is in getting high. Snorting hydrocodone is quite a radical length to go to in order to achieve euphoria and quick onset. And for a rational user, there are just too many risks and dangers associated when you snort hydrocodone that can affect your wellbeing and health. If you are going to snort hydrocodone, know that you run risks that can be potentially deadly. And at the least, snort less than you would take orally to prevent overdose, increased tolerance and possible dependence.

When you snort hydrocodone questions

To learn more about the dangers of Norco (hydrocodone) use as well as available rehab options, see what it’s like to seek help from Norco Addiction Treatment Programs and be better prepared for what you can expect. Help is available NOW.

If you still have questions concerning snorting hydrocodone feel free to post them at the comment section. We will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: FDA: A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine
OASAS: Tampering with prescription opioids 
SAMHSA: Challenges in Using Opioids to Treat Pain in Persons With Substance Use Disorders
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Can snorting hydrocodone cause major leg cramps after a night of sleep? I don’t know what to do anymore. My partner keeps lying to me but, I do the laundry and have found it AGAIN!

  2. Voulf addiction to snorting opiates such as hydrocodones result in being physically or emotionally damaging or put a small child in danger. Is it posdible after snorting hydrocodone that a small child could be in danger of abuse?

  3. My roommate has been snorting his pain pills for a while now. I know he’s addicted but he’s in denial. He gets more meds than I do and runs out before me. He even went as far as saying he dropped 8 in the toilet this month. What can I do?

  4. Can snorting Hydrocodone have a side effect that could damage the syactic nerve & cause leg spasms? I was told it is a piniched nerve. I had surgery but it didn’t stop the spasms. So could snorting be a cause?

  5. I have been starting for years and do you have bad days of damage. Tried a while ago to quit and I can’t because of the pain. I’ve use vitamin E and my nose. Been so ready to be off all this. And of course I can’t because of the pain. Can you help me find a Doctor Who will help me heal this. I will definitely need a strong numbing spray but I’m going to need it to be seen and possibly surgery I don’t know where to turn for surgery and medication to get off this sick drug. Please help

  6. I was recently prescribed Hydrocodone 5-325 for a foot injury. This is the first time I’ve ever had it. Yesterday I had 2 as prescribed and it had zero effect. So when I woke up today I had 4, Stil nothing. So then I decided to injest an additional 2 every hour until it works. I ended up taking a total of ten poppers over 3 hours and honestly, I still didnt seem to have any relief for my pain. Is it possible someone could be immune to Hydrocodone? I have a feeling the more realistic reason is the fact that my substance abuse over the years had given me a high tolerance to just about anything. Anyway, I just read this this blog and said might as well give the old sniiffer a go. I will say finally I can feel it and the pain has subsided after crushing just 3 of those bad boys! Momma always said if you don’t succeed at first, try try again! And I’ll never forget her also saying, it’s always good to branch out and try new things!

    1. Hi CLB. I’d suggest you inform your prescribing doctor about your medications inefficiency in treating your pain. If you are not abusing any substances at the moment, it is unlikely to be due to high tolerance, as tolerance tends to drop quickly after you stop abusing a substance.

  7. I snorted norco that were expired by two days and I have minor pain on the side of my stomach were my ribs are and I have cloudy pee. should I be worried?

  8. my problem is all of my dr’s are tying to cut me off and i have even cool turkey stopped for a month because i was out of a job and could not afford to pay the $150 for the Norco script that I had. And when i started taking meds again they only give me 1/2 of what i need just to get thur the day when working. i stay in bed all weekend just to save up for the work week. I need a way to stretch out what little i get to get out of some of the pain after a bad surgery. if snorting it a little at a time is 90% effective and digesting it is only 10% effective I think I will start snorting it, not to get high! just to get from day to day. And yes if I take too much I even feel a little less depressed. God forbid I feel good for a little while but I don’t use it for that it just sometimes happens. If it feels good it must be illegal??!! . Not everyone is just trying to get high. Alot of us just want to stop the PAIN!!! Since i lost my medical benies they already changed me from oxyimorphone to norco without increasing the qty despite the fact that the oxyi seemed to be twice the strength as norco if not more. wtf, sometimes i feel like moving to a different country if I have to continually suffer.

  9. Thank you so much for information. I still cant understand why they choose to do this. im 48 ive been very ill last 16 years many operations. 2years ago I moved from deep south also 1 of best places to vacation on east coast. Maybe that kept us under educated. Moving to Huntington w.v. to spend what days me and mother have left. Ive heard things I dont know if even real. ive always followed instructions on bottles. No one here knows none of my business.. Heroin seems perfected drug here. Sad thing really sick ppl dont get help. But yet the doctors prescribe all the additive pain killers etc to those who sell to buy heroin. But if your truly ill your screwed. I dont go out much cant due to health. But to here some of these stories I’d rather stay home. when I heard if someone finds out you got a pain pump they will kill you to cut it out to remove the drugs. You sure answered were 2 bottles of pain medicine and a bottle of nerve pills went. I know who stole them. What do I do? I can not allow her in my home no more. But she has 3 hungry kids I feed couple timrs a week. HELP

  10. 2 days ago i snorted about 3 hydrocodones it was my first time ever now i cant smell anything my nose isnt really stuffy is there anychance that i will regain my sense of smell please i want to be a cook when im older and i cant do that if i cant smell the food

  11. This helped me in no way, as the answers given are false. I know, due to experience. I generally sniff 3 10/325 hydros a day. The high last over 2 hours, the pain killing affects last about 4-5. Now, the damage to the nasal linings, etc, MAY be true. I have no idea about that, as I have had no such effects, as of yet. But given that I KNOW much of this information to be false, it’s hard for me to believe any of it. Having said that, due to the legalities of it (of which until now, I was unaware it’s illegal), I am going to stop doing this. But the reality is, NEVER trust DEA information, except about whether something is legal or illegal

  12. There are some pretty big oversights in this article. The author states that “One of the biggest risks you run is overdose.” The highest hydrocodone to acetaminophen ratio is 10/325 (norco) and most prescriptions are 10 mg or less with 500 mg acetaminophen. This is important because the sheer amount of powder that an individual needs to insufflate in order to overdose is huge (LD50 is around 350 mg/kg, overdose is a fraction of LD50 but still large). In fact, if you ask drug users themselves, you’ll see that the overwhelming consensus is that insufflating hydrocodone is not preferred, simply because so much material has to be snorted in order to get high and most of the powder is APAP+pill binder. So yes, there is the risk of overdose when snorting hydrocodone, but no less than if it was ingested (~80% bioavailability).

    Also, in the section “Is Snorting Hydrocodone Effective?,” the author states that “Because the GI tract hasn’t filtered through some of the ingredients you are fully exposed to the effects of hydrocodone.” This statement is pure rubbish, and that is not how drug metabolism works. Where did the author get their information about the nasal bioavailability of hydrocodone?

  13. Hi Nancy. I believe you are already doing all you can. It’s good to state you see he has a problem, offer him educational matherials and say you’ll be there for support if he decides to get help. I’m sorry that I cannot answer your second question. I’m not familiar with the law, but you are not doing anything; I know he could be in trouble if you report him, since he’s in your driveway.

  14. I snort hydrocodone everyday multiple times a day. I keep getting really sick like with colds, upper respirtory infections, and bronchitus. Could this possibly be from snorting the hydrocodone?

  15. My friend (male, 55) is snorting his hydrocodone and ingesting what he calls “a handful of ibuprophen) every day for pain caused by shoulders and back that need surgery. He is on Medicare and is essentially homeless. He has a terrible time “getting going” in the morning due to this pain, but later in the afternoon, he appears almost giddy. He has a history of drug abuse for which he did two stints in prison. Although he says his prescribing doctor tells him it’s OK to snort if he gets better pain relief, I don’t believe any of it.

    I plan to print parts of this article out for him, especially the sections on the dangers, not that it will do any good. This friend claims to have a very high tolerance for substances (I believe it to some degree when I see him drinking ten cups of coffee a day… One makes me almost sick.).

    I want to know two things: Is there something I can do or say to this friend that will make him do what is better for himself? AND, am I putting myself at some kind of legal risk by having this friend snorting in my driveway?

    Thanks for your answer and for this article,

  16. Hi Antwon. The answer is yes, Suboxone will help the physical and psychological aspects of your Lortab withdrawal. But, consult a doctor first.

  17. I have a friend who I over heard talking about SNORTING PILLS so I just dont understand how this doesnt cause extreme pain in her nose? I mean if its pills they contain Tylenol plus are hard so even if crushed isn’t it still in too large of pieces for this? I take meds for M.S. and spinal pain and I get plenty of relief from SWALLOWING my meds and if taken as prescribed you dont feel pain except minor when itstome for ur next dose. I am so confused as to why she does this except maybe she is an addict? Should I confront her about treatment or just stay away from her? Or both!!! Thanks for ur help 🙂

  18. I’ve been on hydrocodone for two months now due to back surgery. Sometimes I have to orally take twice the dosage to get any relief and it takes so long to work. Could I snort half the rx’d dosage and then orally take the other half to lengthen the efficacy? I’m aware you won’t advocate the method I’m suggesting. Just want to know if it will give be faster relief to buy me time and help with the pain.

  19. We’re happy to have helped Hilary. Understand can go a long way to developing compassion for an addict, especially when we only experience the negative side effects. I wish you the best.

  20. This post helped me understand and it answers allot of my questions. My brothers a pill addict and I never have seen what the appeal could be and this was very enlightening. Thankyou

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