Rectal drug administration, or “plugging,” is one way that people with a substance use disorder may take drugs. Although it’s less popular than snorting, injecting, or swallowing, it’s still a relatively common practice with potentially dangerous side effects.
While the specific side effects and dangers can vary depending on the specific drug a person is taking, some general dangers of plugging drugs may include insufflation, damaged rectal tissue, poor blood circulation, and an increased risk of overdose.
Inserting drugs into the rectum may be referred to as:
- booty bumping
This route of administration is most commonly seen with alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and MDMA among other drugs.
What Is Plugging Drugs?
Plugging drugs is one method of administration. Instead of taking drugs orally, injecting them, or snorting them, a person may take them rectally.
Plugging may take the form of inserting a pill into the rectum as it is, crushing the pill and filling a gel capsule with the powder for insertion, or diluting the pill or powder in water and inserting the fluid with a syringe.
Plugging may be most commonly seen among people who are abusing:
- methamphetamine (including crystal meth)
- MDMA (ecstasy)
- Dilaudid (Hydromorphone)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco)
Why Do People Use This Method?
Rectal administration is a common practice for doctors in the United States who may prescribe suppositories or administer enemas.
Drugs administered this way may have a faster onset time than drugs taken orally as well as a higher bioavailability. That means it may take less of the drug to achieve the same effect. Plus, this method of administration could also reduce the unpleasant side effects of some drugs.
Unfortunately, these are also reasons that a person who is abusing drugs may try plugging.
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Plugging drugs may provide users with a more intense high and they may have to use less of the drug to get the desired effects. Plus, if the drug typically makes a person nauseous by taking it orally, they may be able to avoid this with rectal administration.
Still, like all other routes of administration, plugging comes with its own set of side effects and dangers.
Side Effects Of Plugging Drugs
When drugs are administered rectally, they’re absorbed through the lining inside the rectum. After extended exposure, this could quickly lead to side effects that range from moderate to severe.
Some of the most common side effects of plugging drugs may include:
- persistent diarrhea
- damaged rectal tissue
- poor blood circulation
These seemingly minor side effects can easily lead to more serious problems.
For example, damaged rectal tissue can increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections if the person is also engaging in anal sex. There’s also an increased risk of hepatitis as well as HIV/AIDS if a person is sharing equipment.
Additional side effects can vary depending on the specific drug that a person is plugging.
Overdose Risk From Rectal Drug Use
Plugging drugs could lead to an increased risk of overdose regardless of whether a person has tried the drug before.
Because rectal administration can lead to a more intense high that both comes on and fades very quickly, the desired effects of a drug may wear off before the drug has left a person’s system. This can cause a person to take more of the drug and lead to accidental overdosing.
Common signs of a drug overdose may include:
- dilated pupils or red eyes
- shortness of breath
- blue lips or fingertips
- nausea and vomiting
- chest pain/increased heart rate
- confusion or irritability
- seizures and shaking
If you notice these signs or suspect an overdose, be sure to call 911 immediately.
Other Dangers Of Plugging Drugs
In addition to the potential side effects listed above, other dangers of plugging drugs could include:
- passing blood
- rectal pain
- tears in the colon
- inability to control bowel movements
- decreased blood flow to the small intestine
- death of surrounding tissue
Of course, the risk of these issues is increased if a person has been plugging drugs for an extended period of time.
Treatment Options For Substance Abuse
If you or a loved one have problems with substance use in any way, there are a variety of treatment options available. Drug abuse and addiction can be treated with both inpatient and outpatient programs.
Naturally, inpatient programs are more intensive and immersive. With inpatient treatment programs, a person will go to a detox facility and stay for several days or weeks full-time while receiving treatment.
Alternatively, outpatient treatment options are available for people who may be treating an addiction while still attending work, school, or supporting a family. In an outpatient program, people visit an addiction treatment center several times weekly to get support and resources.
While treatment methods may vary based on the specific drug being used, substance abuse treatment, in general, may include:
- behavioral counseling
- group or individual therapy
- reward-based incentives
- evaluation and treatment for other mental health illnesses
Quitting some drugs “cold turkey” can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, it’s best to contact an addiction treatment specialist that can work with you to decide on the best course of action.
If you or a loved one may be plugging drugs or having problems with drug abuse in other ways, don’t put off getting help. Contact an AddictionResource.net treatment specialist today to find the right treatment center and program.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- National Institute On Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science—Drugs And The Brain
- National Institute On Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science—The Science Of Drug Use And Addiction
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health—Bottoms Up: Methamphetamine Toxicity From An Unusual Route
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health—Physiological And Pharmaceutical Considerations For Rectal Drug Formulations