Of the many ways to take drugs — like smoking or oral ingestion — one of the less popular methods of drug use is rectal use, commonly called “plugging”. Though not discussed in the mainstream like snorting or intravenous use, rectal use (plugging) of party drugs like MDMA is a risky way to feel the drugs’ effects quickly and intensely.
Why Do People Plug Drugs?
Typically, any medicines used rectally will be dispersed quickly and more effectively through the entire body than if ingested orally. Drugs taken this way will have a shorter peak time and their effects will not be felt for a long, extended period of time.
For illegal drugs taken like this, plugging is generally a method used by people that abuse drugs. Sill, it can be used by self-described casual or recreational drug users. People who use drugs in this way do so despite the upfront consequences.
Potential Side Effects Of Plugging Drugs
Rectal administration of illegal substances carries an increased risk of numerous negative side effects. In general, the improper or unsanitary drug application, plus the chemical interaction with sensitive tissues, may cause damage to the intestines and rectum. Healthy people may experience very painful physical effects from improperly plugging illegal drugs like Molly.
Prescribed drugs that are taken rectally include appropriate lubrication and a sterile syringe or applicator. People that plug substances might not take steps for safe and sterile use.
Not using sterile applicators or suitable lubrication can cause extensive tissue damage to rectal membranes and tissues.
Plugging drugs like MDMA into the rectum can be particularly dangerous for people with pre-existing ailments, such as:
- poor blood flow
- persistent diarrhea
- anorectal disorder
- low number of platelets from the bloodstream
Plugging causes additional damage to rectal tissues. The harsh chemical makeup of illegal drugs like MDMA, DMT, or LSD when they are repeatedly ingested can cause internal bleeding. The damage varies depending on the duration and intensity of anal drug intake.
Greater Probability Of Overdose
There is a misconception that it is safer to take medications through plugging. The reasoning behind this belief is that drugs go to the blood and entirely bypass the digestive tract and liver. This isn’t correct.
The body filters out drugs from the digestive system by using the liver. Even if a drug enters the bloodstream first, it will undergo the exact same filtering process within the body through the liver, but have a greater initial bioavailability. Because of this, the “high” that is experienced will be fast and intense.
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The biggest downside with rectal drug use is that the high will arrive quickly and intensely, but leaves faster than if taken orally. So, although the substance’s effect will have worn off, it is still being processed by the body.
A first-time user of drugs through plugging may continue taking drugs and suffer an overdose. The effects of a plugging-related overdose may be deadly. Regularly dosing drugs that work on dopamine and serotonin receptors, like MDMA, can have serious short-term and long-term effects that impact major organ systems and mental wellbeing.
Effects Of MDMA Use And Abuse
Used recreationally as a rave or party drug, MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine) affects the body and mind simultaneously. It gives overall feelings of sociability, love, and well-being, as well as lowered inhibitions, all at the same time. It is also known as “molly” and is a key component in ecstasy pills, which can be administered rectally.
Because it is an illegal substance, the purity of a given dose of MDMA can vary. Many variations of the drug include amphetamines, caffeine, ephedrine, or ketamine to amplify the feeling of high energy. Some also contain PCP (phencyclidine), cocaine, or heroin.
Usually, the effects of pure MDMA taken orally is felt around 45 minutes after taking a pill or through insufflation (snorting). A person may “roll” on the positive feelings of MDMA for up to five hours. Side effects can last for days.
Plugging MDMA makes the effects very intense, very quickly. MDMA impacts people differently depending on the dose of MDMA, the person’s health, and mental wellbeing. The combination of physical and psychological effects makes the quick drug release and risk of overdose when plugging especially troublesome.
Some of the serious side effects of MDMA use which may be made worse by plugging include:
- reduced appetite
- elevated heart rate/blood pressure
- rapid breathing
- excessive perspiration
- teeth grinding
If a person who is on MDMA is especially stressed, delirium and panic attacks may result. Over the long-term, MDMA abuse can lead to serious depression, learning difficulties, and memory issues.
Long-Term Effects Of MDMA Use
Long term abuse of MDMA can create unpleasant long-term effects. This is especially true when the drugs are abused through less conventional means like plugging, where the risk of overdose increases.
Long-term effects of MDMA/Molly abuse may include:
- liver and kidney damage
- mental confusion/clouded thinking
- memory problems
- severe dehydration
- severe anxiety/depression
- high blood pressure
- stiff muscles
- fuzzy thinking
MDMA Overdose By Plugging
Overdose on MDMA produces serious adverse effects. Rectal drug administration that leads to further drug use only increases the dangers.
The most common overdose symptoms are:
- heart attack
- elevated heart rate
- sodium deficiency causing cerebral swelling
- kidney failure
- liver damage (hepatitis)
- excessive bleeding
- chest pain
- shallow breathing
Harm reduction measures may be taken at a hospital that includes lowering the body temperature with ice packs, intravenous fluid, salt drips, and oxygen.
Getting Help For MDMA Abuse
If you or a loved one struggle with the effects of drug abuse, treatment is readily available. Drugs like MDMA, even if used occasionally, are ultimately destructive and interfere with your quality of life.
Don’t wait — call our treatment specialists to learn about the range of treatment options available for you. Treatment can include cognitive behavioral therapy to give you the tools needed and the confidence to live without substance use.
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 — MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)
- Medscape — MDMA Toxicity
- ScienceDirect — Rectal Administration