Ask a Junky! Routes of Administration Pt. 2: Blowing, Smoking and Plugging

In the first section of Routes of Administration we covered the different ways to administer heroin with a syringe. In this section we’ll talk about ways to take heroin that do not involve a syringe. Namely, smoking, insufflating and rectal. Most heroin users start out by either smoking or blowing heroin, depending on what coast you live on. There are many advantages to sticking with one of these routes of administration. The two most important in my opinion are that you limit many of the health risks associated with IV drug use and you’ll avoid track marks which can have a serious impact on your relationships and social responsibilities, not to mention your career.

So, let’s dive right into it.


If you’ve ever done cocaine, you’re probably already familiar with insufflation (or blowing, snorting, tooting, there are many names for it). With this method, the drug is inhaled Routes of Administration2 (1)through the nose and up to the sinus cavity and absorb into the bloodstream. It’s got a pretty good bioavailability for a non-injection method, about 44-60%. One of the biggest advantages to insufflation is its ease. It requires no special tools and can be done somewhat discretely, allowing users to partake just about anywhere, anytime. A major drawback is that it’s the easy non-needle route of administration to overdose on. You’re four times more likely to OD by insufflation than by smoking. There are a few reasons for this. One being that the user usually inhales an entire does at once. Another is that many users do not accurately weigh their dose before taking it. Maybe they don’t have an accurate scale, or they don’t want to take the time to do it properly, or they just get cocky and think they can eyeball accurately. We’ve all thought that way, but it can be extremely dangerous. Especially if you’re developing a tolerance and keep increasing your dose to try to achieve the same high (it ain’t ever going to happen, fyi). To limit your risk of OD, always weigh out your doses. You can even pre-weigh a whole bunch at once if you want to save time late. A safe dose for someone with no tolerance is typically between 5-25 mg. For someone with a tolerance it can be anywhere between 20-40 mgs. What dose you take is determined by the quality. The fluctuation of heroin’s quality is another reason users overdose. For this reason, it’s always important to do a small test bump to determine the quality before deciding on your dose. You never really know if the heroin you’re getting one day is from the same batch as the heroin you got on another day. So be safe and do a test a bump. You can always take more, but you can’t take back a potentially fatal dose. Always error on the side of caution. That being said, re-dosing is another very common reason people OD when blowing. Compared to most other methods, the effects come on relatively slowly. First onset is felt in 10-120 seconds, but peak isn’t achieved until 10-30 minutes. So one might assume that their dose wasn’t strong enough before peak is achieved and take more to try to feel the effects. To be completely safe, always wait 30 minutes before taking your next dose. A less serious drawback is that it does have the shortest half-life, about 3-4 hours.

The process of insufflation is incredibly simple. The substance, which is usually a powder, is typically cut into lines or formed into bumps. The user either inhales the powder directly by bringing his nose as close as possible to the powder and inhaling deeply, or enlists the use of a straw or other hollow straw-like tool (like a rolled up dollar bill). One end is inserted into his nose, the other end is as close to the powder as possible, so that when he inhales the powder is channeled through the small opening and directly into the sinus cavity, leaving less room for error. My currently dealer gets black tar and brown powder. And she blows the brown powder the same way you would white powder. So while it might be tricky with black tar, it’s not exclusive to white powder.

This is not the only way to insufflate heroin however. If you only have access to black tar and still want to insufflate, it is possible, but a bit more complicated. The process is called water-lining and entails dissolving the heroin in water and squirting it up the nasal passage, the same way you would Afrin. In the spirit of full disclosure, I use to carry a little Afrin bottle around my old office and subtly take heroin all day long in-front of my coworkers and boss in this manner. Although I would never do that now, and I would certainly never recommend that anyone else do it either! This method requires the same cooking process as any of the injection routes (because some of the chemicals in black tar are not activated until cooked). To start, place the heroin and a small amount of water in a metal cooking device like a spoon. Heat it with a flame until the tar is completely dissolved in the water. With syringe or pipette, transfer the liquid to the container you’ll be using – being careful to only use a sanitized bottle! Once it’s cooled, tilt your head back and squirt the water as far up your nasal passage as possible. Keep your head tilted back for a while to make sure none of it drains back out. It has a very strong taste that most people would find unpleasant at first. But once your used to it, you’ll probably start craving it (that is to say, once your addicted, you’ll definitely start craving it ;-).


Smoking is almost exclusively a black tar route of administration since it has a much lower burn rate than white powder. In fact, it was designed specifically to give west coast users an alternative to injection. It is also possible to smoke white powder heroin, but the process takes a little more preparation. Routes of Administration2The bioavailability of smoking is widely debated. It has been reported to be as low as 26% and as high as 75%. One of the reasons for this is that effectiveness of smoking is completely dependent on the skill of the user. The process, called Chasing the Dragon, requires quite a bit of skill and finesse to perform properly. When done by someone without skill or experience, it can be extremely wasteful and may produce little to no effect at all. When done by an expert, it can get you extremely high, arguably higher than any other non-needle methods, and waste is kept to a bare minimum. In fact, smoking is the only route of administration that produces a rush similar to an IV injection. Out of all the routes of administration we’ve talked about so far, smoking as the longest half-life, about 6 hours.

Another benefit to smoking is that it’s relatively safe. In fact, it’s almost impossible to OD when smoking. There are a couple reasons for this. For one, smoking (as any cigarette smoker can attest) has the fastest onset of any route of administration, including IV injection, just 10-20 seconds. So you immediately feel the effects of smoking. It might seem logical that insufflation would be just has fast since your nose is so close to your brain and it seems to give you a rush. But in reality, you are only feeling the first onset, not the actual peak and it has to be absorb through your mucus membrane, travel through your bloodstream and then reach your brain. The other reason is that it’s very hard to smoke enough heroin at once to OD. You will almost definitely pass out before a fatal dose can be taken.

Many drug users form deep attachments to the ritual around their drug use. From scoring to prepping to administering and being high. There is a ceremony that many users perform religiously and can sometimes grow just as attached to as the drug itself. All injection methods have some ritual, but smoking has a specific and enjoyable ritual. For hundreds of years lovers of the poppy have been fine-tuning and perfect the art of Chasing the Dragon. In a way, it is the most time honored of all the administration rituals. It can be an extremely social event, where I find injecting to be a very solitary experience (and I don’t think I’m alone here, no pun intended), even when done in the company of others. Although, I suppose if someone else injects you it would be a much more communal experience. So for some, the whole ritualistic experience of Chasing the Dragon can also be a benefit of this method.

There is one health risk that is unique to smoking heroin, (on top of the given hazards inherent with all heroin use: addiction, social stigma, the danger that comes with buying, using and funding a habit (both legal and social), that is unique to smoking heroin. On top of all the other inherit health risks that come with smoking anything, heroin smokers are susceptible to Leukoencephalopathy. Leukoencephalopathy is a disease of the white matter of the brain and affects your motor, sensory, and visual systems and disrupts your cognitive and emotional function. While cases of Leukoencephalopathy among heroin smokers aren’t staggeringly high, it is common enough to have drawn the attention of the medical industry and needs to be taken seriously. Next to genetic disorders, is one of the more common ways to contract it, along with, cerebrovascular disease, AIDS and toxic exposure. None of this sounds good does it? Medical researchers have concluded that it is not actually related to the heroin, but an adulterant in the heroin, although which adulterant has not yet been determined. The good thing is, whatever adulterate is responsible is much rarer in black tar, which is the most commonly smoked form of heroin. There is really nothing you can do to limit your risk, other than not smoking heroin. But each time a junky sticks a spike in his vein, Chases the Dragon or does a line (or a water-line, as the case may be) he exposes himself to health risk. It’s your job to weigh the pros and cons and make a (hopefully) educated decision and calculated risk. The good news is, it’s much less common then Sudden Death associated with injecting. Notice I didn’t say overdose, as these are two very separate things, which I will go into in more detail in the next section: Health Risks associated with each Route of Administration, as I will with Leukoencephalopathy as well. But, I don’t meant to cause a panic, Rest assured, smoking is still the safest way to administer heroin.

It’s easy for me to tell you the steps of how to smoke heroin. It might sound easy, but trust me, it’s not as easy as it seems. But I encourage you try it, hone it, tweak it, and become a master. It’s an art that’s dying out as more and more people don’t want to take the time to master it and would rather just jab a needle in themselves. But I respect those who have mastered this art form and would put down the needle to smoke with them any day of the week. Because I know I’ll still get high. But have patience. Don’t give up. Become a guru of Chasing the Dragon, and then invite me over J because in truth, I’m quite rusty these days. I waste too much and can barely get high. But there was a time I was much more skilled.

Smoking with a partner makes the process infinitely easier. But since most people probably use alone, or will at least have to at some point during their heroin years, I’ll cover this one first. You’ll need a few tools, but luckily none of them are illegal like so much other drug paraphernalia like syringes or crack pipes, even opium pipes. Which if you had one – you wouldn’t need to learn the whole Chasing the Dragon process. And it would be pretty fucking sweet to break out your opium pipe, both as a conversation starter and to smoke out of. But anyway, the tools you’ll need are a flame, a tube for inhaling the smoke and the most important tool, a surface to smoke off of. It needs to have a low heat capacity, or something that will heat up very quickly and cool down just as quickly. It also needs to be sturdy enough to resist burning itself. The ideal surface would be one that when you applied heat below it to boil the heroin, it would cook it very quickly, allowing you inhale a large hit all at once, and then cool down the second you remove the flame, so that the heroin didn’t continue to burn and release extra smoke that you’re no longer in a position to use. The best surface we have today that is easily accessible to just about anyone is heavy duty aluminum foil. And it works very, very well. Although I’m sure there are more scenically advanced surfaces out there. They just haven’t been made available to the general heroin population (stupid junky-hating scientists 😉 The tube is also important. It may seem easy to use a straw because you can hold it in your mouth while your hands are busy holding the foil and flame. But a straw has such a small opening that is allows for a lot of heroin to simply go up in smoke and never make it to your lungs. The best solution I’ve seen is a toilet paper roll. The mouth is wide enough to catch almost all the precious, valuable smoke and funnel it into your lungs. But you have to hold a tube that big. The solution? Get a Zippo. With a stationary flame you hold the foil with one hand and the tube in the other. The other solution is to use something that keeps the foil in place while you control the tube and lighter. This would take some creativity to figure out what you have on hand that can serve this purpose. But if you’re dedicated, there are all sorts of things you can find in craft store or home improvement store that will do the trick nicely. I think this is the better of the two because trying to maneuver the aluminum in your hand while using the tube can be tricky when the boiling heroin begins to move slide along the crease in the foil.

Smoking with a partner makes it much less complicated because the other person can hold the foil for you.

Okay, before I get any further, let me give you the steps, one by one, so you can visualize what I’m talking about.

  1. Gather all of your supplies and set your environment. You’ll want to be comfortable once you are high.
  2. Weigh out your heroin. A common dose for someone with a low tolerance is 15 – 30 mg, for a high tolerance 20 – 50 mg.
  3. Take a piece of aluminum foil and make a crease down the center lengthwise, keeping the shiny side down. Place the heroin on end that is closest to you.
  4. Get your tube in place and position the flame so that it is directly under the heroin. Start to gently heat the flame, starting from the far end of the foil. It’s very important not to overheat the heroin. This could result in too much waste, burning the heroin or smoking more than is safe at one time.
  5. As the heroin begins to boil and the smoke starts to rise, start to inhale the vapor immediately.
  6. You want the heroin to start to slide or trail on the foil. If it blobs up in one place, much of it won’t be smoke-able. The smaller the trail the better, so that the entire trail is smoke-able.
  7. Once you’ve filled your lungs to a comfortable level, immediately remove the heat and stop inhaling.
  8. Once you’ve exhaled and ready for another, reheat again and take another hit.

Both black tar and brown powder can be smoked in this manner. The process for white powder is identical, with one extra step. You’ll need to make a 1:1 ratio mixture of heroin and caffeine powder. This can simply be done in a small bowl, no special perpetration is required. Try to get the actual powder and not just a crushed up caffeine pill. Other substances will work, so long as they have a low boiling rate, but caffeine is the only one I’ve actually heard of people using and it supposedly works very well.

You will find that that heroin begins to move as it becomes liquid and boils. Be careful not to tip the foil in either direction too much so that it doesn’t run off the foil. You will have to reposition your lighter several times as the heroin moves around the foil to ensure you’re inhaling from the right place. It can be difficult to chase the vapor and ensure you’re inhaling it all without letting it go up in smoke. That’s why it’s called Chasing the Dragon! But don’t fret. Keep practicing and you will be one of the few in the world who has mastered this most complicated route of administration.

Side Note: Smoking heroin out of a tip of a cigarette is another way to smoke it. It makes smoking white powder much easier. The process is identical for both. Just remove a little tobacco from the cigarette and add some heroin in its place. Then smoke it like a regular cigarette. My old dealer would always give me a little to smoke in a cig while I waited on his front porch for him to come back outside with my goods. But I’ve never found this to be effective at all and it only pissed me off because I was wasting the heroin. Of course, it was a free bump, so I did was I was told and never complained 😉


Also known as plugging, boofing, booty bumping and a number of other colorful nicknames, it’s probably the least commonly used IHeartButtDrugsroute of administration of the three mentioned in this article is rectal suppository. This category would more appropriately called just suppository because it also includes vaginal as well as rectal. Although that method is less used than rectal. First, let me dispel a myth. Sticking drugs up your butt will not make you gay. I give you my 100% word, cross my heart and hope to die, you will not turn gay. Nor does it mean that you were ever secretly gay and just didn’t know it. You can rest assured that if you do empty this method, your sexuality will not be in jeopardy and you will still like sticking your dick in women. You can even have one lined up immediately afterwards for a quickie, just in case you want to ensure your masculinity is still in tact.

This is actually my favorite route of administration next to IV and IM injections. It works the same way as insufflation, except your using the mucus membranes in your anal glands rather than your sinus cavity. It’s very safe. Its’ got a bioavailability of about 50%-70%, which is really excellent. Some claim it’s as high as 90%, but I have a hard time believing that. Some people claim that they rush they experience is equivalent to an IV injection. I don’t personally agree with that, but for those with less of a tolerance, maybe it’s conceivable. Other claim it has no effect at all. This would only happen if it was not administered correctly.

Routes of Administration2 (5)

A syringe with the tip cut off for easy administration.

Basically, you’ll need three supplies: 1.) A syringe. It can be an oral or infant syringe (you can buy them at any pharmacy without any weird looks 😉 or an insulin syringe with the tip removed and the nib cut off, leaving a small hole at the top. Make sure it’s as smooth as possible to prevent any scrapes or tears when it’s inserted. 2.) Some water and 3.) Your heroin. A typical dose should be about 50 mg. If you’re really opiate naïve, maybe start a little lower, like 30 mg. Any type of heroin will do, it doesn’t matter what kind.

  1. Prepare the heroin by dissolving it in a little bit of water, some say the more diluted the better, but I don’t see any reason for this unless it’s to cut down on potential burning. I would say the less diluted the better, so that your body can absorb it as fast as possible. If it’s powder, just dissolving it is fine. With black tar or brown powder, cook it first, the same was as mentioned above.
  2. Draw the liquid up with your clean and sterile syringe.
  3. Some find Vaseline or other lubricant makes the process more comfortable, although I’ve never really had a problem sticking anything up my ass, so I’ve never even tried this step, lol.
  4. (For obvious reasons, it’s a good idea to clean out your bowels before this point. An enema isn’t really necessary, but just make sure they are empty). Lie on your side on the bathroom floor with your pants removed (or at least lowered to your ankles. Find a position where you can easily reach your, um…. asshole J Some people need to raise their high leg to achieve this, or if your limber, you may be able to simply reach behind.
  5. Once you’ve located the entry (yes in this case it is an entry 😉 gently push the syringe into your anus until it is inserted all the way to the base. Don’t worry, there syringes are skinny and fairly short.
  6. Press the plunger all the way day and hold it there for several moments. Sing Happy Birthday two times like your washing your hands or something. Then gently remove the syringe.
  7. Stay on your side for about 10 minutes, depending on the amount of water you use, you may want to stay there up to 20 minutes.
  8. Once you feel fairly confident that all of the liquid has been absorbed, you can get up and for God sakes put your pants back on.

You should start to feel the effects in about 10 minutes. Full peak takes between 20-30 minutes. But then it last a considerably longer time than blowing or even injecting, up to six hours. By far the most common reason that rectal administration doesn’t work is that the syringe wasn’t inserted far enough. Make sure you don’t waste your heroin by pussing out and not getting it all the way up there 😉 A vaginal suppository is done in the exact same manner.

Converts to rectal administration swear by this methods. The general consensus among devotees is that it’s equal, if not superior to an IM injection. While IV is hard to give up, if I had to, this would definitely be my go to method. Many drugs are extremely effect this way. I’ll be straight with you guys, I’ve put just about every drug you can find up my ass, including my birth control pills 🙂

Bonus Tip: Acetyl L-Carnitine is said to be an extremely potent potentiator for rectal heroin use. Simply perform the same procedure 20 minutes before you insert the heroin. It’s said to increase the high by up to 2x the normal potency!

These aren’t the only routes of administration. There are a few others, like oral or vaporizing, but the six I’ve mentioned in part 1 and 2 of this series are tried and true methods that seem to produce the best results.

Hopfully that was informative for some of your guys and will help you make a well informed decision on which route of administration is right for you. If you’re used to one method, maybe try another to change things up a bit! In the next section I’ll be discussing health risks associated with each method and how to limit your risks!

☮ ❤ & ♫♪♫



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