Effects & Dangers Of Plugging Opioids

If a person participates in plugging opioids, a process in which the drug is inserted into the rectum, serious side effects can occur. Additionally, plugging opioids may also increase the risk of addiction as well as a life-threatening overdose.

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According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prescription opioids are painkillers that consist of medications such as oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodone.

Opioids, used to help treat chronic pain, are sometimes referred to as narcotics and are mostly Schedule II controlled substances according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Those suffering from opioid addiction may turn to unusual ways to administer these drugs to achieve a “high” and feelings of euphoria. While some may turn to snorting or injecting the substance, others participate in plugging, otherwise known as the rectal administration of opioids.

Plugging opioids is a form of drug use which can lead to serious side effects. Speak with your prescribing healthcare provider before taking opioid drugs.

Effects Of Plugging Opioids

Opioid drugs help provide pain relief by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and depressing the central nervous system (CNS). However, when the drug is plugged, it enters the bloodstream much more quickly than when taken orally.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the various types of opioids that may be used rectally in a medical setting include hydromorphone (Dilaudid) and morphine.

Those abusing prescription opioids may crush the tablet into a fine powder and combine it with a liquid to insert into the anal cavity.

Plugging OxyContin or other opioid/opiate drugs can create numerous side effects.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of opioids can be heightened when the practice of plugging occurs.

General side effects associated with opioids, as stated by NIDA, consist of:

  • sedation
  • drowsiness
  • lightheadedness
  • euphoric sensations
  • constipation
  • vomiting
  • nausea

Serious Side Effects

More serious side effects can occur when opioids are plugged, including:

  • damage to the rectum
  • increased risk of overdose
  • bacterial infections
  • hypoxia
  • changes in sexual desire

Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who abruptly stop opioid use can suffer withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the symptoms, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), may consist of:

  • fatigue
  • mental health issues such as anxiety and depression
  • dysphoria
  • fast heart rate
  • irritability
  • sleeping difficulties
  • cravings for the drug
  • tremors

Dangers Of Plugging Opioids

Life-threatening concerns may occur when opioids are plugged. Serious dangers can take place which can cause long-term harm to your body.

Damage To Rectum Tissue

Plugging opioids can cause damage to the anal cavity. The harshness of the drug may lead to tears in rectum tissue due to repeated use. This creates irritation of the mucous membranes, which can lead to blisters and bleeding.


Bacterial infections of the rectum may take place due to the type of paraphernalia involved in plugging opioids. To insert the drug into the rectum, a syringe may be used.

If a person shares sharp syringes or needles, they may accidentally contract a disease such as hepatitis or HIV.

Drug Interactions

Combining CNS depressants can lead to respiratory distress. Additionally, a variety of substances should be avoided while taking opioids.

Some of the drugs to avoid consist of:

  • over-the-counter painkillers
  • benzodiazepines
  • other opioids such as fentanyl, methadone, or codeine
  • alcohol
  • antihistamines
  • other illicit or prescription drugs

Combining these drugs with opioids is a form of drug abuse that can lead to serious drug interactions, especially when a mixture is plugged.

Opioid Overdose

There is an increased risk of overdose when opioids are taken in high doses.

Symptoms of an opioid overdose may include:

  • respiratory depression
  • seizures
  • permanent brain damage
  • loss of consciousness
  • death

To help prevent an overdose death, contact 911 immediately if an overdose is suspected. Once at the emergency room, healthcare professionals may administer naloxone (Narcan), a medication used to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid abuse, consider inpatient care at Bedrock Recovery Center. Not only do we provide medical detox and evidence-based practices, we offer a wide array of treatment programs such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

If you struggle with a substance use disorder, please consider the many treatment options available at our treatment center. To learn more, contact us today.

  1. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology - Bioavailabilities of rectal and oral methadone in healthy subjects https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1884589/
  2. Food and Drug Administration - Opioid Medications https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/opioid-medications
  3. Frontiers in Pharmacology - Physiological and Pharmaceutical Considerations for Rectal Drug Formulations https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6805701/
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse - Prescription Opioids https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/commonly-used-drugs-charts#prescription-opioids
  5. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Morphine Rectal https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a606006.html
  6. National Library of Medicine: StatPearls - Opioid Prescribing https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551720/
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Substance Use Treatment Advisory https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma10-4554.pdf

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 24, 2023

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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