Stimulants are abused in several ways, depending on the drug. They can be:
- Swallowed in pill form.
- Snorted in powder form through the nostrils, where the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues.
- Injected, using a needle and syringe, to release the drug directly into a vein.
- Heated in crystal form and smoked (inhaled into the lungs).
Injecting or smoking a stimulant produces a rapid high—or rush—because the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, intensifying its effects. Snorting or swallowing stimulants produces a high that is less intense but lasts longer.
Powder cocaine is usually snorted or injected (also called “mainlining”), or it can be rubbed onto mucous tissues, such as the gums. Street dealers generally dilute cocaine with other substances (such as cornstarch, talcum powder, or sugar), with active drugs (such as procaine, a chemical that produces local anesthesia), or with other stimulants (such as amphetamines). Crack cocaine is often smoked in a glass pipe.
Methamphetamine is swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked. “Ice,” a smokeable form of methamphetamine, is a large, usually clear crystal of high purity that is smoked, like crack, in a glass pipe.
Amphetamines and methylphenidate are usually swallowed in pill form.