5 Ways Drugs Can Enter Your Body | How Do Drugs Enter The Body?

5 Ways Drugs Can Enter Your Body

There are numerous methods of ingesting and using drugs. These include smoking, swallowing, snorting, injecting, and using suppositories. For substances to affect the brain, they must enter the body by some means first. Any of the above methods of using drugs can lead to a host of issues and the possibility of addiction. There are 5 ways drugs can enter your body, which we are reviewing below.

As drugs enter the bloodstream, their effects can either take hold immediately or over a longer period of time. Although such addictive substances come with dangers, both short-term and long-term, some methods of ingestion come with a faster high. To achieve this faster effect, many individuals can become addicted as they search for new methods of ingestion. But, not all drugs can be consumed in the 5 different ways outlined above. The method of consumption depends on the type of drug.

When drugs have been ingested, they go through four stages within the body:

  • Absorption
  • Distribution
  • Metabolism
  • Excretion

Continue reading as we discuss the 5 different methods of drug administration and how they can affect the body in different ways.

Here at AspenRidge, we understand the effects addiction can have on the body, mind, and other aspects of life. We also understand how different substances can impact individuals in various ways. While we are here to help, we are also here to help you recognize the signs of substance abuse so those affected, and their families can move forward with a better understanding. For immediate assistance with drug abuse and addiction help, contact our 24/7 helpline at 855-281-5588.

5 Ways To Take Drugs

If you need help to recognize the telltale signs of substance abuse, the following links can provide assistance:

5 Ways Drugs Can Enter Your Body

Drugs undergo four stages within the body: absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. After a drug is administered, it is absorbed into the bloodstream. The circulatory system then distributes the drug throughout the body. Then it is metabolized by the body. The drug and its metabolites are then excreted. There are 5 ways drugs can enter your body including:

  • Smoking
  • Swallowing
  • Snorting
  • Injecting
  • Suppositories


According to a study by Learn Genetics, smoking is one of the fastest ways for a drug to affect the brain. Even addictive substances such as nicotine can quickly travel to the brain through smoking as it seeps into the lung’s blood and quickly travels through the bloodstream. This fast-acting delivery is one of the main reasons why smoking cigarettes is so addictive.

When you smoke, the internal linings of your lungs allow oxygen to pass into your bloodstream. Therefore, it is delivered to your organ systems such as your brain. By smoking an addictive substance, this process sees the drugs released into the bloodstream much faster.

As well as tobacco, other drugs can be smoked such as:

  • Marijuana
  • Crack cocaine
  • Meth
  • Opium
  • Salvia
  • PCP (and many other hallucinogens)
  • Prescription drugs

Smoking can have short-term and long-term effects. For those who suffer from existing respiratory issues such as allergies or asthma, smoking can exacerbate these problems. This can lead to a chronic cough and congestion in many. The risk of contracting pneumonia is also heightened which can lead to a higher likelihood of lung cancer and emphysema.

Furthermore, the lack of oxygen that is absorbed into the bloodstream due to substances also being absorbed can lead to failure in organ systems, such as the brain.

If you believe yourself or someone you know is showing signs of being addicted to substances through the method of smoking, we have programs here at AspenRidge to help. Find out more here.


Swallowing or ingesting drugs is one of the most common methods of substance use. This is when an individual takes the drug by mouth. The substance will then go on a journey as it passes to the stomach and into the bloodstream.

Ingestion is one of the slowest methods for drugs to take effect. This includes drinking alcohol as its effects may take minutes rather than a few seconds as with smoking or injecting. But, as with all methods of ingestion, the drugs will cause biological and behavioral effects in the brain.

Drug use by mouth is considered one of the safest methods as the body has more time to absorb the substance. Moreover, if something does not agree with the digestive system, it can induce vomiting to remove the foreign substance.


This is another common method of taking drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and amphetamines. Snorting is the third fastest-acting method of drug consumption as individuals will usually experience the drug’s effects within 15 minutes or so.

Snorting drugs over a period of time can have serious long-term implications. For instance, the lining of the nasal cavity and septum can begin to deteriorate. Furthermore, sharing instruments to snort substances results in a higher chance of contracting HIV or hepatitis C.

Methods Drugs Can Enter The Body


Injecting substances directly into the bloodstream is the fastest method for drugs to take effect on the brain and body. Rapid drug delivery, such as this, can alter the brain’s chemistry for good. It can alter gene expression and neural circuitry than can accelerate into addiction.

People who inject drugs tend to experience a high within 3 to 5 seconds. In other words, an individual will feel the effects immediately. This method of delivery goes straight to the brain and bypasses all of the body’s natural defense mechanisms such as the digestive system.

There are very dangerous implications when injecting. The site of the injection can become infected while the shared use of needles can lead to HIV and hepatitis. Many addicts also suffer from collapsed veins and arterial damage which can lead to hemorrhaging, gangrene, and thrombosis.


Although not one of the most common methods of drug use, suppositories allow a substance to enter the bloodstream through the rectum’s mucus membrane.

Drugs that are commonly taken using this method are cocaine, ecstasy, and speed. The reason for the relatively fast-acting effects of suppositories is the sensitivity of the rectum. This sensitivity can result in long-term issues. Certain substances have high levels of acidity where the rectum’s lining can become permanently damaged. In extreme cases, the lower colon can also be perforated which can lead to premature death.

5 Ways Drugs Can Enter The Body

Prescription drugs and their effects

The abuse of prescription drugs, whether it be through smoking or swallowing, can have short-term as well as long-term health complications.

Every prescription drug has its own numerous effects as well as side effects. If you are abusing prescription drugs on a regular basis or know someone who is, professional help must be sought immediately. The longer the issue is ignored, the further risk there is to health and life.

Find one of AspenRidge’s dedicated programs here. We provide outpatient programs for individuals and their families suffering from the disease of addiction. Controlled drugs (prescription) have the greatest potential for abuse. If they are not used as prescribed, they can be deemed the most dangerous.

According to Delamar, the long term effects of addiction to prescription drugs include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Drug dependence
  • Weight loss and weight gain
  • Changes in physical health
  • A decline in mental health
  • Damage to organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys, and brain

Both the short-term and long-term effects of prescription drugs are vast and can affect each individual in numerous and unique ways.

If drug abuse has become an issue for you or a loved one, contact us at AspenRidge, Colorado’s leading provider of dual diagnosis treatment for substance abuse and mental health. We are here to help, treat, and provide programs for those suffering from addiction. Contact us directly at 855-281-5588.

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