Why Do We Snort Things?

Why Do We Snort Things?


Say hello to my little FREND. IT’S… it’s
The NOSE. And you know what? It doesn’t want any of those things that you’re trying to
sniff up there. Stop it. Insufflation or the act of inhaling something
through the nose is an ancient practice; Google’s NGram viewer finds references to insufflation
all the way back to the late-1600s when the term was coined. Insufflation is even part
of some religious ceremonies,, and was probably a way to consume tobacco before we learned
to dry and smoke it. Even though it’s harmful, snorting is pervasive in our culture. It’s
so visible, a third grader was suspended in Atlanta for snorting crushed up candies back
in 2013. And recently, powdered alcohol, or “palcohol,” was legalized for sale in the
U.S.; and there are concerns people will begin snorting that too! Though according to the
company’s website, it would take an hour to snort enough powder to equal one shot of vodka.
Even chocolatiers of today advertise the ability to snort their cocoa! For when ingesting something
isn’t enough, people tend to follow their nose; why is that? Well, the nose is a hole in the front of your
skull with a bone at the top and cartilage at the bottom. It’s divided by the nasal septum.
Behind the nose are four sinus chambers which together are pretty large — an average of
15 cubic centimeters. They extend as far back as your throat, and contains folds of bone
and cartilage called turbinates to increase the surface area of the mucous membrane which
lines the whole internal structure. The membrane is densely packed with blood cells, which
is why when you snort something things get a little crazy. When a drug, like cocaine for instance, is
mixed with hydrochloric acid, it turns into a salt powder, which can then be sniffed or
snorted. When the fine powder hits the mucous membranes it adheres to the membrane and is
absorbed by the bloodstream. Once there, it heads from the nose down to the heart, then
to the lungs to get oxygenated; once oxygenated that blood goes back to the heart and then
all over the body. Though popular legend is snorting is the quickest high, smoking is
actually quicker, because the breath which oxygenates the blood carries with it the chemical
compounds; cutting out the trip from nose, to heart, to lungs. The problem with snorting ANYTHING is the
nose didn’t evolve to process physical particles of that size and absorb them. It’s sort of
a body hack. Over time, the mucous membranes wear down and stop humidifying air before
it enters the body. Even something as harmless as chocolate can cause scarring and damage.
Continued use of cocaine causes perforations of the nasal septum — the bridge that holds
up the nose — sores in the membrane, chest infections, and of course nosebleeds, colds,
inflammation and, if it gets worse, the collapse of the nose itself,; not to mention a cocaine
addiction. You can even lose your sense of smell altogether. If the tissue dies, flies
can lay eggs and produce nasal maggots — which CAN live in the sinuses feed on the dead flesh
— though doctors admit that
it extremely rare.

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