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Drugs: Drug Absorption in the Stomach

Drug addiction is a serious problem that affects millions of people globally. It is characterized by the compulsive use of drugs, despite negative consequences on one’s health, relationships, and daily life. Illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, can be ingested in various ways, including injection, inhalation, and oral ingestion.  When taken orally, these drugs are absorbed in the stomach and then pass into the bloodstream, where they can cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain. This rapid absorption can lead to an immediate and intense high, but it also increases the risk of overdose and other adverse health effects.  In this article, we’ll cover how drug absorption occurs in the stomach and how illicit substances and drug addiction can affect a person’s digestive system and ultimately compromise their health. 

How Does the Digestive System Absorb Drugs?

The process of drug absorption occurs in the digestive system after a drug is administered orally. The drug is typically in the form of a tablet, capsule, or liquid that is ingested and then travels through the digestive system. As the drug travels through the digestive system, it is exposed to various enzymes and other substances that can alter its structure and affect its ability to be absorbed into the bloodstream. These substances may include enzymes in the mouth, stomach, and small intestine, as well as bile and other fluids produced by the liver. The drug is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the small intestine. The small intestine has a large surface area and is lined with tiny finger-like projections called villi, which help to increase the surface area for absorption. Once the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is carried to the liver, where it may undergo further metabolism and processing before it is distributed to the rest of the body. Factors that can affect drug absorption in the digestive system include the pH of the stomach and intestines, the presence of certain enzymes and other substances that may alter the drug’s structure, and the rate at which the liver metabolizes the drug.  Some drugs are more readily absorbed than others, and the absorption rate can also be influenced by the form in which the drug is administered.  Since many illicit drugs come in these forms — tablets, capsules, and liquids — they undergo the same process, meaning they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and other organs.  Continued drug addiction will seriously damage the body, particularly the stomach. Drug addiction treatment is the best way to ensure this abuse stops before the damage becomes severe.

Drugs, Alcohol, and the Digestive System 

Different substances can affect the digestive system in different ways when they’re absorbed into your stomach. Some can bring more intense effects than others while also causing more harm. Here are some effects you can expect from the following substances: Alcohol: This substance makes it difficult for your body to ingest vital nutrients and, in severe cases, can cause anemia. Long-term and excessive alcohol abuse is linked to colon and rectal cancers.  Cocaine: The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that cocaine abuse can impair tissue in the bowels and cause serious abdominal pain.  Opioids: These drugs can cause acid reflux, constipation, and abdominal pain. Opioids are extremely addictive, and the damage they can do is immense, especially if they’re a higher dosage.  Hallucinogens: Some psychedelics can cause severe nausea and vomiting. Tobacco: Cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and other forms of tobacco are associated with all types of cancers, including stomach cancer. In general, drug abuse has been linked with abdominal pain and rectal bleeding, which may indicate ischemic colitis; this condition results in decreased blood flow to the colon due to blocked arteries, which can lead to long-term damage. 

Short-Term Effects

Before long-lasting effects become apparent, drug abuse can lead to several short-term effects of drug absorption in the stomach. These effects include the following: 
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Poor digestion
  • Inflammation
  • Constipation
  • The inability to properly absorb nutrients
  • Vomiting
The severity of these symptoms depends on how much of a drug is consumed and the type of substance. Drug addiction treatment is vital if you or someone you know is abusing substances to the point that these symptoms occur regularly and worsen over time. 

The Long-Term Effects 

Long-term drug use can negatively affect the stomach and digestive system. One potential effect of drug use is damage to the lining of the stomach and intestines, which can lead to ulcers and other digestive problems. Chronic use of certain drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, can also lead to inflammation of the stomach lining and malnutrition, as these drugs can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Drug use can also lead to gastrointestinal bleeding, which can be severe and potentially life-threatening. This can occur due to ulcers, irritation of the digestive tract, or damage to the blood vessels in the digestive system. Drug use can also disrupt the balance of bacteria in the digestive system, leading to various digestive issues, including diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. It’s important to note that the specific effects of drug use on the stomach and digestive system will depend on the particular drug used and its frequency and duration. If you or someone you know is using drugs and experiencing digestive problems, it’s essential to seek medical attention.

Get Started on Your Addiction Recovery Journey With Ardu

Drug addiction can be devastating not just to the individual but to their friends and family. If you or someone you know is ready to get started on the path to recovery, reach out to us at Aardu Recovery Center.Drug addiction treatment at our Provo, Utah, facilities covers multiple programs and services tailored to individual needs because we know that not everyone shares the same journey. Call us at (801) 512-0086, or fill out our online form today to get started.