How Snorting OxyContin Leads To Permanent Nasal Damage

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Snorting crushed-up OxyContin pills is just one of the most common ways people can abuse prescription opioids, similar to how cocaine and ketamine are abused. What most people don’t realize until it’s too late is the potentially irreversible nasal damage snorting OxyContin, and other substances cause.

This article discusses the dangers of snorting OxyContin, specifically focusing on how it impacts your nose, why opioids are abused this way, and other long-term effects and dangers of opioid addiction.

OxyContin is the generic version of oxycodone, a potent painkiller and central nervous system depressant prescribed for moderate to severe pain.

What Is OxyContin?

OxyContin is the generic version of oxycodone, a potent painkiller and central nervous system depressant prescribed for moderate to severe pain. It’s usually prescribed to individuals suffering from intense pain from arthritis, severe injuries, or cancer. The DEA classifies OxyContin as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse, and medical providers only recommend swallowing a single pill or tablet at a time. However, some users have discovered that crushing and snorting an OxyContin tablet bypasses the digestive system and activates its effects almost immediately. Other prescription opioids with oxycodone include:

  • Percocet
  • Percodan
  • Tylox
  • Oxaydo
People usually snort OxyContin because it's absorbed through the nasal mucus and reaches your brain much quicker than ingesting.

Why Are People Snorting OxyContin?

People usually snort OxyContin because it’s absorbed through the nasal mucus and reaches your brain much quicker than ingesting. The lining inside the nose, known as the mucosa, contains epithelial cells that can rapidly absorb drugs in various forms like powder, liquid, or spray, making it an effective drug delivery system. This is why some antihistamine medications are administered through nasal sprays, also called intranasal administration.

Unfortunately, this is how most individuals abuse cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, MDMA, and other substances that can be crushed or dissolved into powder solutions. Additionally, many prescribed substances are designed to release the medication over time once swallowed, and snorting opioids skips this time release and activates the effects immediately.

Read more: Opioid Addiction In Los Angeles, California: What You Need To Know

What Snorting OxyContin Does To Your Nose

Snorting drugs, like OxyContin, can lead to swelling of the inner lining of the nose, sinus and lung infections, nasal blockages, nose bleeds, and respiratory tract problems. The nose isn’t designed to handle inhaling powders, even though snorting drugs can provide quick and potent effects. The damage that often occurs is not solely due to the drug itself but also because of additives mixed with the powder.

Substances like caffeine, talcum powder, and detergents are commonly added to crushed opioids, acting as irritants that trigger harmful reactions in your nose. You might think you’re snorting FDA-approved medication when you can be putting anything from baby powder to fentanyl up your nose. Research has shown that long-term users snorting heroin have nasal perforation, pharyngeal ulcers, and even septum necrosis, which is when your tissue starts to die. This can make it harder or impossible to breathe due to crusting, scabbing, or foul smells.

Snorting Oxycontin can be compared to feeding your nose to opioids, allowing the drug to slowly eat away at your tissue, nerves, and bones.

Snorting drugs, like OxyContin, can lead to swelling of the inner lining of the nose, sinus and lung infections, nasal blockages, nose bleeds, and respiratory tract problems.

Infection & Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis

Even if the drugs are initially sterile, snorting OxyContin off contaminated surfaces or using dirty straws or rolled-up bills can introduce unwanted contaminants, increasing the risk of infection. In some cases, individuals who have snorted Hydrocodone and Oxycodone have been hospitalized due to a rare condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This condition makes the lungs extremely sensitive to dust and minor irritants, leading to serious respiratory issues.

Other Long-Term Effects of Snorting OxyContin.

Aside from the evident impact on your nose, snorting OxyContin can also give rise to a range of other lasting effects that affect both your physical and mental well-being.

Physically, snorting OxyContin can lead to:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed or irregular breathing
  • Headaches, nausea, and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Overdose
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure, overdose, and respiratory depression
  • Permanent nasal passage damage
  • Chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and other lung conditions
  • Liver damage and failure

On a mental and brain level, snorting OxyContin can result in:

  • Anxiety, depression, and worsening of existing mental health disorders
  • Chemical dependence and withdrawal symptoms
  • Chronic cognitive impairments, including memory loss, confusion, and difficulty concentrating

Read more: The Cost Of Addiction

Are The Effects Of Snorting OxyContin Reversible?

Some physical and mental health effects of snorting OxyContin are reversible, but it usually depends on the length and severity of opioid abuse.

Reversible Effects:

  • Short-term side effects like nasal blockages, runny nose, inflammation of the nasal lining, and certain respiratory symptoms can disappear a few hours or days after an individual snorts OxyContin.
  • Mild cognitive impairments, such as memory issues and difficulty concentrating, can improve a few days after quitting opioid use.

Challenging-to-Reverse Effects: 

  • Physical damage to the nose, such as septal perforations (holes in the nasal septum), can be challenging to fully reverse. Some individuals choose to have surgery in order to restore the nose’s appearance, but even then, complete restoration may not always be possible.
  • Long-term damage to the respiratory system, including chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and other lung conditions, can lead to lasting respiratory issues. Certain chronic respiratory diseases are not curable but can be managed through inhaled and anti-inflammatory medications like bronchodilators and corticosteroids.

Mixed Effects:

  • Psychological effects, like anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairments, can be improved through addiction treatment programs with evidence-based and holistic therapeutic methods. However, some substances like OxyContin can leave behind uncomfortable and reoccurring withdrawal symptoms, also referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome.
If you or someone you are snorting OxyContin, contact Launch Centers.

Contact Launch Centers

If you or someone you are snorting OxyContin, contact Launch Centers. Opioid addiction is a serious substance use disorder that can consume an individual’s entire life, including their physical, mental, and financial health. Don’t let this happen to your or someone you know. Contact our addiction treatment center today, and find out how our therapy methods and program schedules can help you overcome drug abuse and find lasting recovery and wellness.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

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Jess Beck, LCSW

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Eric Chaghouri, MD

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Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

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