Some of the tell-tale signs of meth abuse include meth sores, scabs, and acne on the face. Meth causes many users to feel a crawling sensation under their skin (called “formication”), often referred to as “meth mites”, causing them to pick obsessively at their faces, leading to meth scars. Heavy meth usage cuts off the supply of blood to all parts of the body, which destroys blood vessels. This leads to meth’s effects on the body including acne, sores, and scabs that can dramatically alter a meth user’s appearance.
Meth suppresses the immune system, leading to slower healing of acne, meth sores, and meth scabs, plus the skin loses its luster and elasticity as a result of decreased blood flow. Heavy meth users often look years or even decades older than their actual age.
In one of the most circulated and shocking slide shows ever distributed, the Multnomah County Sheriff compiled a series of mug shots showing the before and after pictures of meth users that all appear to have meth sores. The photos are testaments to how dramatically meth can affect the appearance of users in as little as three months of use and were intended to create a realistic presentation of the effects that meth can have on the body as a way to educate young people in particular.
The physical effects of meth aren’t limited to meth sores on the face and body – another insidious effect is “meth mouth,” tooth decay that happens as a result of meth use. The drug causes dry mouth and reduced saliva, which doesn’t allow the mouth to neutralize acids. The acids then eat away at the teeth and gums, causing major dental problems. Meth users often have cravings for highly sweet foods like candy and sugary drinks, exacerbating the problem of tooth decay. It is also thought that the corrosive effect of the chemicals in meth may cause wearing away of the tooth enamel.
The American Dental Association reported that the teeth of people addicted to meth are characterized by being blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling and falling apart. Often, the teeth can’t be salvaged and must be removed. The study also found that the more meth a person used, the worse their tooth decay was. This is likely caused by a combination of dry mouth and long periods of poor oral hygiene.
Ultimately, meth is a potent, dangerous drug that can have irreversible effects on both the appearance and brains of users. The harmful effects of meth are long-lasting and can scar a patient for life. In addition to these long-lasting effects, users are also at increased risk of diseases such as hepatitis B and C, and HIV. This is because users that inject meth often share needles. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also reports that meth may speed up the progression of HIV/AIDS and worsen symptoms of the disease.
The professional clinical staff at Northbound Treatment Services are highly-trained at helping individuals quit meth and start down a path of long-term sobriety. For more information about our chemical dependency services, contact us or call us at (866) 311-0003.