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Can Phentermine Be Safely Snorted or Smoked?

There is no safe way to snort or smoke phentermine.

Phentermine is an anti-obesity stimulant medication that is used for weight loss. It should only be used as prescribed as part of a comprehensive weight loss program.

While phentermine is a safe medication when taken as prescribed, it can be dangerous if it is misused by smoking or snorting the drug.

Use and Risks

Phentermine usually comes in 30 mg tablets or in 37.5 mg capsules that are taken once daily as an appetite suppressant and energy booster. It can help people on a weight loss program to stay on top of their dietary and exercise goals.

The medication comes with some heart-related risks, including atrial fibrillation and heart palpitations, which is why the common course of treatment is capped at a period of three to 12 weeks. Limiting the overall direction of treatment reduces the risk of adverse side effects and prevents the buildup of tolerance in the body.

Risks of Snorting Phentermine

Snorting phentermine is typically accomplished by crushing the tablet to a powdery form and then inhaling it through the nose. The intention is to achieve rapid delivery of the medication to the brain, thereby immediately inducing the stimulant effects of the drug.

snorting risks

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), taking a drug in any way other than its intended use is abuse. Prescription stimulant abuse can lead to irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperature, seizures, and heart failure.

Snorting phentermine will amplify its effects. It could cause the user to feel a high that they would not normally feel when taking the medication as prescribed.

The process of snorting the drug bypasses the normal metabolic process that the medication goes through to enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. Usually, when the pill is swallowed as intended, it has to go through the gastrointestinal system and be absorbed into the blood before it can circulate throughout the body and reach the brain and other systems.

Snorting the drug causes it to be rapidly absorbed directly into the tissues of the nasal passages and surrounding tissues, allowing it to reach the brain faster.

Snorting phentermine can come with additional dangers, including increased risk of adverse side effects from the drug since it is absorbed more quickly than intended.

Snorting phentermine can cause the following types of injuries to the body:

  • Tissue damage in the nasal passages
  • Nosebleeds
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tissue damage in the esophagus

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Risks of Smoking Phentermine

Much like snorting phentermine, smoking the medication is another way for people to attempt to get a more rapid delivery of the drug into the brain and body. This can cause a more intense effect of the medication that is not normally achieved when ingesting it orally as intended.

Phentermine may be smoked by crushing the tablets and lacing another substance like tobacco or marijuana with the drug.

When you smoke phentermine, it bypasses the gastrointestinal system, which normally metabolizes the drug and circulates it into the bloodstream. It instead delivers the drug directly into the lungs, where it is absorbed by the tissues in the body and sent directly to the brain.

This produces a more rapid response to the drug’s effects. As with snorting, it can cause a more intense reaction in the brain and body than that would regularly be achieved by ingesting it as directed.

The following risks are associated with smoking phentermine:

  • Lung damage
  • Tissue damage in the lungs and esophagus
  • Increased risk of addiction
  • Respiratory problems

Smoking phentermine increases the chances of both negative side effects from drug misuse as well as a heightened risk for dependency and addiction. Research has demonstrated that people who smoke stimulants are more likely to become dependent on drugs. 

What Is the Impact on the Brain?

The rapid delivery of the medication into the brain increases the risk that such use could become habit-forming. Addiction begins to develop in the brain when it perceives a pleasurable reward in reaction to a substance. It then reinforces the reward response by creating a craving for that substance.

impact on the brain

Phentermine typically has a low rate of abuse, and it does not usually induce cravings or withdrawal symptoms in patients who take the medication as prescribed. When phentermine is abused, the potential for the medication to become habit-forming and trigger the brain’s craving response is escalated.

When rapid delivery methods, such as snorting or smoking the medication, produce their quick reward to the brain, the risks increase that the brain will develop an addictive response to the substance.

When a medication reaches the brain quickly and produces that rapid reward response, the substance will also leave the brain more quickly, causing a more severe drop in the pleasurable effect of the substance. This rapid rise and fall of the reward response in the brain are the components that increase the risk of addictive patterns.

Ultimately, there is a greatly heightened risk of addiction and dependency when the drug is ingested in these manners. 

Additional Risks

These rapid delivery methods increase the chance that the side effects of the drug will be experienced and that they will be more intense than normal.

The side effects of phentermine include the following:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Dry mouth

The most dangerous risk associated with snorting or smoking phentermine is a heart attack. Concerns about phentermine’s effects on the heart are why the medication is only recommended for short courses of treatment. Taking the drug in any manner other than intended increases the risk that this major adverse reaction will occur.

Sources

(July 2015). Addiction Science. National Institute on Drug Abuse. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science

(July 2018). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction

(January 2019). Phentermine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682187.html

(June 2018). Prescription Stimulants. National Institute on Drug Abuse. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants

(March 2011). Stimulant Abuse: Pharmacology, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Treatment Attempts at Pharmacotherapy. Primary Care. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056348/

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