The Dangers of Snorting Prescription Drugs: Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, and More
Many people think prescription drugs are safer than street drugs because they are legal and come from a doctor. However, prescription drugs can cause serious side effects, especially when they are misused. Snorting painkillers, for example, is highly detrimental to your health and can even cause a fatal overdose.
How Dangerous is Snorting Prescription Drugs?
Taking a prescription drug in a way that is different from what the doctor prescribed is considered prescription drug misuse.1 Prescription drugs can be misused in several ways including taking medicine that was prescribed to someone else, taking medicine in a larger dose than recommended, and taking medicine in a different way than intended, such as snorting.1
According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, prescription pain killers were the second most misused drug, following marijuana. The survey also found that in the past year:2
- 9.3 million people misused prescription pain relievers.
- 6.2 million people misused prescription sedatives or tranquilizers.
- 5.1 million people misused prescription stimulants.
Many people think prescription drugs are safer than street drugs because they are legal and come from a doctor. However, prescription drugs can cause serious side effects, especially when they are misused. Snorting painkillers may be appealing to some users because of the fast, intense onset of effects. However, as they misuse painkillers more often, they may find that the medicine does not have the same strength of effects no matter what route of administration is used.
People with a prescription pain reliever tolerance that are not finding the same level of stimulation from ingesting medicine orally may begin snorting the medicine to get to the same effects. Others snort painkillers simply because it causes an intense high.
Prescription Drug Misuse Treatment
Getting help for prescription drug misuse may require intensive, professional treatment. While no rehab programs are exactly alike, they generally follow a 4-step process that includes:
- Patient assessment: Patients generally undergo a complete medical and psychiatric evaluation, which helps determine the level of care needed.
- Detox: Sometimes a patients’ continuum of care includes detox, but this is not always necessary. During detox, the body is allowed to clear itself of drugs. The detox period is often associated with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, and sweating.3
- Addiction treatment: Addiction treatment typically involves a combination of behavioral, group, and individual counseling. You may also participate in 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Rehab can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting and will generally include evidence-based treatment such as Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medication-assisted treatment (MAT), motivational interviewing, and more.4,5
- Aftercare: Following the steps above, you will work with your team to create an aftercare plan. An aftercare plan is created to maintain recovery and prevent relapse.
Does My Insurance Cover Rehab for Prescription Drug Misuse?
Searching for rehab treatment centers can feel overwhelming, especially if you are not sure if insurance will cover the cost. Fortunately, most insurance plans cover at least part of, if not all, addiction treatment for prescription drug misuse. You can check your insurance coverage by calling the number on the back of your insurance card or by filling out the form below.
Getting Help for Prescription Drug Misuse
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of inpatient and outpatient rehab treatment services. AAC is committed to supporting those struggling with addiction on their journey to recovery. If you are looking for information on prescription drug addiction treatment, you can contact us 24/7 at to learn about your treatment options.