Yes, Snorting Chocolate Is the New Rave!

Marketing Chocolate as a Drug

“Holy mesolimbic dopamine system Batman!” commented a user called “Sceptical Cat” regarding a Washington Post story. “You can now snort chocolate — but should you?” Sceptical Cat points out that we tend to associate snorting with illicit substances such as cocaine that have rewarding, and potentially lethal, consequences.

The Washington Post describes “Coco Loko, a ‘snortable’ chocolate powder” as “being marketed as a drug-free way to get a buzz.” Its inventor, Nick Anderson, says the cacao-based powder’s effects are “almost like an energy-drink feeling, like you’re euphoric but also motivated to get things done” and last between 30 and 60 minutes.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the product, although similar substances are legally available elsewhere. AOL News reports that snorting chocolate has become “all the rage” in European nightclubs. “[Cacao powder] sends a rush of endorphins into users’ bloodstreams, which can give them a euphoric feeling.”

Health Effects of Snorting Chocolate Powder Are Unknown

The actual health effects of snorting Cacao powder are not known. This is probably because the plant contains several active chemicals with unclear pharmacologic properties. One chemical found in dark chocolate is called epicatechin. Some of the chemicals, such as epicatechin, have vasodilatory properties that can increase blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain which provides a sense of increased energy.

Chocolate also includes morphine-like substances that create a rewarding experience by stimulating the mesolimbic dopamine system in the brain. The release of dopamine following chocolate insufflation (that’s “snorting” to the layperson) produces a feeling of warmth and happiness which is similar to what happens when users ingest other drugs of abuse. Maybe it is not just a cliché to say one is addicted to chocolate!

Reporters who are covering the trend of chocolate insufflation seem to believe that snorting has only recently been invented. Ironically, that’s not the case. Some native South American tribes have used shamanic rituals that involve snorting for thousands of years. Tribal groups in South America still use insufflation of hallucinogens as part of healing and spiritual rituals.

Even people who snort illicit substances in America often have rituals like those of the shamans. Selection of paraphernalia, environments, and locations for snorting may be part of the rituals. Rewarding experiences associated with snorting can reinforce the practice, and that often leads to more snorting.

Why Do People Snort Substances?

So why do people snort? Snorting is a way to ingest a drug or substance such as chocolate into the brain more quickly than if it’s taken orally. Nasal insufflation allows for substances to be absorbed through the nasal mucosa. The nasal mucosa is highly vascular, allowing for most drugs to enter the blood rapidly. The process also allows the substance to bypass the liver and avoid early metabolism which allows more of the drug to reach the brain faster.

Drugs can be atomized to be delivered by nasal insufflation (as an alternative to fluids that can be injected or solids that may be ingested as tablets). Small amounts of highly concentrated drugs can be effectively administered rapidly with nasal insufflation. There are several medications that are intended to be administered intranasally. These include analgesics (such as ketorolac or fentanyl), benzodiazepines (for example, lorazepam or midazolam), antidotes (naloxone, for instance), antihistamines (such as azelastine or olopatadine), and steroids (triamcinolone, fluticasone, and so forth).

ADFs Can Prevent Snorting Opioids 

Snorting opioids is one abuse technique that has caused considerable harm. The risk of mortality from opioids that are snorted is more than 2.5 times the risk from orally abused opioids. This is why there are now abuse deterrent formulations being developed that are intended to deter abuse of snorted opioids.

In its report, “Abuse-Deterrent Opioids — Evaluation and Labeling Guidance for Industry,” the FDA explains how manufacturers can create safer formulations. Industry is trying, among other things, to create opioids that can’t be crushed, grounded, melted, or otherwise altered and then snorted.

People have been snorting substances for their pleasure, enlightenment, health, or to get high for thousands of years. It not likely that science is going to prevent snorting from occurring — nor should it, because there can be medicinal benefits to nasal insufflation. But if the substance in question is chocolate, all I can say is “Holy olfactory, Batman! Chocolate is meant to be eaten, not snorted.”


  1. Susan Stephenson on July 25, 2017 at 12:14 am

    Regarding the survey tally this far…Every day, as a rare dz advocate, I hear, non stop, about people with chronic pain who have been well managed with opiates long term all being denied access to opiates now. Fear of DEA, FDA, fear of everything as prescribing pain mgrs. Likewise, the incidence of (confirmed) suicides, I am also learning about more and more as the pain crisis worsens for those in chronic pain with horrible diseases which have zero treatments, let alone cures. Just wondering, who is tracking the stats of suicides as result of their resumption to pain because of barriers that have been created? And, bigger question, just how accurate are the reporting of such suicides related to lack of pain mgt. in pts. once well managed with opiates? There is not an opiate crisis. There is a pain crisis.

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