What are the different ways to take drugs?

Most people just look forward to the high, but there’s a whole process before you get baked that you should know about. The way you get the drugs into your system can literally change the entire experience. Some methods come with increased danger while others may not give you the high you want. We’re here to help you strike the right balance.

Two young women are sitting in a common room. They are discussing ways to take drugs. This is a wide-angle image.

Popping Pills 

Most common drugs taken this way: Benzodiapines, OxyCotin and Vicodin 

The good stuff: Generally speaking, pill drugs are usually the ones on prescription. They’re easy to get a hold of from a chemist or pharmacy and are relatively reliable in terms of dosage and ingredients. For illicit drugs, pills are still easier to take compared to other methods, such as injecting.

Risks: There’s an increased risk of choking, specifically if you choose to swallow them dry. You have no idea what’s in them meaning your high could go very wrong very quickly. They can get mixed up with genuine medicine pills which would really ruin your plans for the day.

How long it takes to kick in: There’s no specific time frame but generally speaking, the effects will take longer to kick in than smoking or snorting. This is because your body has to digest the pill before it can enter your bloodstream.


Most common drugs taken this way: Marijuana, opium and amphetamines

The good stuff: It can give you a pretty good high pretty quickly. Smoking is considered a social activity, so a lot of people enjoy doing it with friends. Also, you’ll be happy to know that second-hand smoking isn’t as much of an issue with drugs as with tobacco. 

Risks: As with smoking cigarettes, your lungs take the brunt of the damage. It can lead to a number of lung diseases as well as heart problems. It can also increase the addictiveness of the substance because it reaches the brain quicker. 

How long it takes to kick in: It usually takes around 30 minutes for the high to reach peak intensity, but you can expect to feel effects within a few minutes of the first few puffs.

Edible drugs  

Most common drugs taken this way: Cannabis (this one’s a special one) 

The good stuff: They’re a discreet and delicious way of getting in some cannabis. You can literally bake cannabis into anything, from brownies to cookies. They’re also legal if they contain under 0.2% THC. Plus you don’t get any of the toxins that come with smoking. 

Risks: If you have kids around, they could accidentally ingest some which would make for an interesting night (seriously, this is really dangerous). The risks of overdosing are significantly higher because you don’t know the exact strength of the cannabis you’re putting in. This is especially true if you buy edibles straight from a third-party, since you don’t know what they put in it. 

How long it takes to kick in: You should feel the effects roughly 30-60 minutes after eating. But it’s important to note that this can vary from person to person depending on a number of factors. So don’t just go on stuffing your face with brownies. 

Snorting drugs

Most common drugs taken this way: Crack cocaine, Molly and Rohypnol 

The good stuff: Snorting can be a really quick way to get the drug in your system. It’s also a middle-ground between injecting and using pills so you get a decent high. 

Risks: The obvious risk is to your poor nose. People who snort are most likely to damage their nose in one way or another, whether that be constant nose bleeds or coke nose. Other potential problems include wheezing and tooth decay. 

How long it takes to kick in: It usually takes around 15 to 30 minutes to feel the effects kick in. Of course, this varies from person to person. This quick hit is why a lot of addicts progress from pills to snorting to injecting. To find out more about helping a loved one through addiction, click here.

Injecting drugs

Most common drugs taken this way: Heroin and Meth

The good stuff: It can give you a really intense high. That’s about it though. Honestly, this is the method we’d recommend the least, the risks are way too risky to justify the kick you get from it. 

Risks: We could go on and on about the potential problems with injecting but we’ll keep it short and sweet. You could contract diseases such as Hepatitis-C from sharing needles. You could also overdose very easily because the doses are just that sensitive. Plus, it’s an injection – need we say more?

How long it takes to kick in: There’s no specific time-frame but it works pretty quickly. Since it’s being injected into a vein, it doesn’t take long for it to enter your bloodstream and make it’s way up to your brain. 

Next Steps

  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
  • Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
  • Release offers free and confidential advice on everything to do with drugs and drugs law. 0845 4500 215
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 22-Sep-2021

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