Heroin can be snorted, just like cocaine. This method is sometimes less popular as it is much more painful. This is because snorting heroin into your sinuses and nasal passages is significantly more uncomfortable than using a syringe. Snorting heroin results in an onset of desired effects within 3 to 5 minutes, while smoking (another way people use this drug) results in an almost immediate effect that, unsurprisingly, tends to become more and more intense as the user continues to smoke. Intravenous injection, which is what many people have perceived to be the only method of taking heroin, takes about 30 seconds to work, nearly as fast as smoking. People also inject heroin intramuscularly and subcutaneously, though these methods tend to be slower in taking effect, usually about 3 to five minutes.
When snorting heroin, how much does the user inhale? It seems to depend on the quality of the heroin itself — where it came from, whether it's natural or synthesized, how much it is cut and with what (street heroin can range from zero to 90 percent pure), as well as a person's body size and developed tolerance. When snorting heroin, the person has to snort more than if they were injecting or smoking, and it takes approximately 10 - 15 minutes to feel “high” (longer than from injecting or smoking). When one snorts heroin, they will probably get sick, their nose will run uncontrollably, and they will get stomach cramps.
Heroin causes an unique sensation of pleasure and pain, different from other less toxic drugs. It also affects the heart, breathing, reproductive system, digestion, excretion, thinking, cough and nausea centers, eyes, voice box, muscles, and immune system. The drug's ability to relax muscles causes the user’s eyelids to droop, their head to nod, and their speech to become slurred and slowed. Walking is also slowed. Their pupils become pinpoint and do not react to light, their skin dries out, and itching increases. Heroin also affects the hormonal system; a woman's period is delayed and a man produces less testosterone; sexual desire is dulled, often to the point of indifference.
Snorting heroin does not give nearly as intense a rush and so is thought to be less addicting. People who snort heroin can often do so on and off for long periods of time without becoming strongly addicted. This occasional use of heroin is called "chipping," and it seems that some people can remain successful chippers over months, or even years. Unfortunately, a high percentage of chippers become addicts — most junkies begin as chippers, with no thought that they would ever become a heroin addict.
Francis Clapham, 16, bought the drug for £1 from a teenager in a park, an inquest heard.
But after sniffing the heroin with a friend he collapsed and was taken to hospital where he was put on a life-support machine.
The drug caused organ failure resulting in brain damage through oxygen starvation and he died two months later.
The inquest heard that Francis, who did not have a history of drug taking or dealing, was drinking vodka with a friend in a park in Nelson, Lancashire, when he decided to buy the drug.
Both teenagers collapsed after snorting the heroin.
His friend made a swift recovery and was discharged from Blackpool Victoria Hospital just two days later but Francis, a pupil at Fisher More High School, died in May last year in Burnley General Hospital.
Pathologist Dr Naomi Carter told the inquest the schoolboy contracted MRSA in hospital and had a reaction to antibiotics but would not have recovered from the brain damage he had already suffered.
Francis's brother, Andrew, 19, said: "He thought it was cocaine and said that he and his friend had taken some.
"I only saw him taking a line of it but he might have had some more in his pocket. We had an argument about the drugs and he stormed out.
"I handed the rest of the package to the paramedics."
Detective Constable Neil Morris, of Lancashire Police, said officers initially thought that Francis and his friend had been the victim of an assault in the park but further inquiries disproved this theory.
Mr Morris added: "The drug was bought for £1 to £2 in the park.
"Francis and his friend thought it was cocaine which is why they snorted it."
Recording a verdict of accidental death, East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor said: "It was clearly an accident that he took a substance which he had no idea would end in his death.
"It was entirely down to the heroin he died."
In September last year, a 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was spared detention after admitting supplying heroin and possessing the drug with intent to supply.
Magistrates told him they believed he had not willfully intended to cause harm to the schoolboy, had no knowledge of drugs and had shown remorse.
They said a period of custody would not benefit anybody and that the boy was not a threat to the public though he had made a "grave error of judgment".
The court was told that Francis' parents Keith and Diane had requested that the youth was spared custody over the incident.
One friend, who set up a website in memory of the schoolboy, said: "He was a nice lad. He always had a big smile on his face. He made me laugh a lot."
Drug charities and police said Francis' death should send a warning to other teenagers about the dangers of drug use.
Harry Shapiro of Drugscope said: "This is a complete and utter tragedy for the family and friends of the individual involved.
"It just serves as a warning about the dangers of using heroin."