THIS IS NOT A HOW-TO MANUAL!
Some people think that whenever a piece of info addresses the risks around different ways of using drugs that it promotes drug use by showing people how to use. This is not true for a number of reasons. Here are just a few:
- Reading a single pamphlet on safer drug use will not change the mind of a person who doesn’t want to use. Information won’t make people more likely to do something if they weren’t going to do it in the first place.
- People who do use or want to use drugs have always figured out many different ways of consuming drugs. Some ways are safer than others though, so it’s important to know about alternatives.
- We are all responsible for our own actions and its pretty lame to say that a piece of info ‘made me do it’. We are not passive recipients of our environment… We can choose what we do and what we don’t agree with, as it is presented to us. This is called BEING CRITICAL!
When trying to reduce the harm associated with drug use, as users we need to be informed about not only the particular drugs used but also the ways in which we use them.
This pamphlet is about the mechanics of getting high which is often called the METHOD OF CONSUMPTION or the ROUTE OF ADMINISTRATION. They ways that we actually get drugs into our bodies have different levels of risk & as users who are informed we can better take care of ourselves through recuding the harms often associated with the METHOD OF CONSUMPTION.
These are all the possible ways of getting a drug into your system:
- Snorting/Sniffing (Nasal)
- Smoking/Huffing (Inhalation)
- Shooting (Injection)
- Eating (Oral)
- Hooping (Anal or Vaginal)
Some drugs can only be done by specific methods and others can be consumed by a variety of methods. Each method of consumption comes along with different risks for different harms. This is why getting into the nitty gritty’s on how we use can help us becoming better informed and aware of the issues around our use and how to use in ways that allow us to sustain our own health and well-being.
Snorting can only be done with powders and some burn more than others, depending on the chemical (some are more corrosovie that others), as well as the consistency of the powder. For examle, chunkier or more course powder may be more painful to snort than a finely ground powder. Snorting can cause damage to the sensitive tissues inside your nose. Over time, the cartilage (the harder parts in the middle and inside) can start to break down.
After snorting a line or bump, the high is usually a more intense, shorter lasting high than eating it would be. However not all drugs can be snorted or sniffed (ie. don’t try doing lines of shrooms!)
The Dreaded Drips!
Drips are what happen when mucous from your nose drips down into the throat shortly after snorting a drug. Since there is some of the drug in the mucous (the powder that didn’t make it all the way up the nose) you can usually taste it when it drips from the back of your throat into your mouth. UGH! The taste can make you shiver since most chemical substances have a bitter, pungent and/or slightly nauseating taste to them. Drink water to help wash it down and get any nasty tastes outta there and avoid throat irritation!
Sharing Snorting Equipment…
It is risky to share straws, bills, flyers or whatever you use to snort because Hepatitis C can be transmitted through mucous from your nose that may be on the end of the straw and then passed onto the next person. Hep C is a virus which effects the liver which can cause some people to feel really sick hile others have no symptoms while carrying (and spreadying) Hepatitis to others. (Find out more about Hep C treatment here.)
Signs that you’re snorting too much:
- Nose bleeds or dried blood when you blow your nose
- Headaches or pains around the eyes and forehead
- Trouble breathing through the nose
- Getting the drips even days after using
Reduce the Harms:
- Use your own straw
- Snort a bit of water after doing a line or bump to sooth your nose
- If you’re planning to snort a very chunky powder try grinding it into a finer consistency before railing it by putting it in between two hard objects (ie. spoons, surface & card, etc.)
The bigger the line the harder it is on the scnoz. When cutting lines think about giving your nose a break with smaller lines or bumps
- Use a smaller amont than if you were eating the drug because it will hit you harder and faster when you rail it
When smoking a substance, it is absorbed through the sensitive tissue that makes up the surface of the lungs. The high is generally intense and short-lived, especially with uppers like coke & crystal.
- When anything burns, the byproduct created is tar, which is toxic to the whole body but especially the lungs.
- Smoking not only the drug but whatever it is cut with can have harmful effects on the lungs and throat
- Bronchitis and other respiratory problems can result from repeated smoking of substances. Over a long time it can cause emphysema and/or lung cancer
- Use safer smoking devices like water bongs (they filter out some of the dirt through the water) or non-toxic pipes
- Use a rubber mouthpiece on your pipe so that you don’t burn your mouth when it is heated up
- Try not to smoke out of pop cans or other metals because this is REALLY harsh on the lungs and throat
- Be mindful of the materials you smoke out of. Some plastic for example, becomes carcinogenic (produces toxins) when heated up
Signs of trouble:
If you have trouble breathing an /or have pan in your chest area, this could be a sign of overdose if you’re doing amphetamines (uppers). If these symptoms are accompanied by racing pulse, sweats, fever, nausea, seizures, anxiety and/or numness in your arms, call 911 immediately.
If you’re having trouble breathing you can try:
- Breathing steam (not directly from a kettle… too hot)
- Sit or stand rather than lie down
- Sit and hang your head in between your legs
- Get some fresh air
We often hear that taking a drug orally or eating it is one of the ‘safest’ routes of administration. Eating a drug is less intense but longer lasting than some other methods because it has to go through the digestive system before it reaches the bloodstream. Of course, some of the drug gets released into the bloodstream on the way down but the majority of it has to pass through the digestive systemwhich mean that it’s a more gradual high and the body has more time to adjust to the drug and some of it gets diltered by the kidneys and peed out.
Got ‘gut rot’???
- apple sauce
- plain crackers
- ginger or ginger ale
- coconut water
- dairy (milk, cheese, etc.)
- fried/greasy foods
- caffeine (energy drinks, coke, pepsi, coffee, etc.)
- You may feel ill: nausea, tummy ache, gut rot, throwing up, etc.
- Ulcers and other digestive problems (over longer term use)
- most caps are made of gelatin so if you’re allergic, don’t eat the cap
Reducing the harm:
- Don’t use on an empty stomach, try eating a light meal a couple hours before dosing
- Drink water when dosing orally to make the cap or pill go down more smoothly and wash away any bad taste
Some drugs can be turned into a liquid and injected into the system. Most often injection drug users shoot into beins (intravenous drug use) called IV drug use but you can also inject into the muscle (IM – intra muscular) or with coke some people inject under the skin (skin-popping).
- Cotton fever/the bends: from injecting a ‘dirty hit’. This could be from fibers in the filter, dirt in the ater you use to cook your hit, or the stuff the hit is cut with
- Swollen skin: from missing the vein or ‘digging around’ with the rig
- Absesses cause by diret or germs on the skin (not cleaning the site properly, missing the vein or using the same site over an over again)
- Transmission of bloodborn infections like HIV and Hepatitis A and B through shared works
A less common method of consumption is sticking a ca or pill up your butt or vag. The drug then absorbs through the mucous membrane (a thin and sensitive mucous-covered tissue) inside the ass or vagina. The high is full-on because it doesn’t have to travel through the digestive system, so less is needed to get high than if you were eating it.
- It may irritate your bum or vag
- Adulterants (stuff the drug is cut with) may cause irritation
- You might poo it out!
Reducing the harm:
- Use lube when hooping to reduce discomfort and/or tearing
- Wash your hands before and after to avoid transmitting bacteria like Hepatitis A and B
- Try cutting your dose in half if hooping for the first time to see what the buzz is like rather than taking the whole dose at once
Switch it up!
If your using any drug regularly or over long term then its especially
important to be aware of the risks associated with not only the particular drug but HOW you use them. By rotating methods (changing around the ways you consume your drugs), you can reduce the harm that can be caused to your body by overdoing it with one particular method. For example if you’re snorting crystal every day, rotating methods could give your nostrils a well deserved break. If you smoke every day your lungs would benefit from whatever rest you could offer (obviously you can’t eat cigarettes – not all drugs can be taken in a variety of ways!). Any method in excess comes along with increased chances of harm. It can be really empowering to be aware of the consequences of our use and have the info and skills to change how we use if we want to.
How you use drugs is your choice alone, just to use or not to use if your choice. The info provided is for us to be more aware of the ways that we use drugs so that we can make responsible and educated choices around our drug use, This is not a ‘how to’ manual. It is a starting point to understanding our use and our choices and realizing that we have the power to be healthy and safe while using.
So whatever you do and however you do it, GET INFORMED BEFORE YOU GET HIGH!