The Leather Skin and Toothless Grins of Meth Addicts

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The Leather Skin and Toothless Grins of Meth Addicts

Meth addicts seem to deteriorate more rapidly than people who abuse other substances such as heroin or cocaine. In fact, law enforcement efforts have sometimes focused on the poor health of meth addicts as a form of deterrence: by posting before-and-after pictures of meth users, people are able to make quick and graphic associations about the risks of meth addiction. But once you understand the skin, facial, and dental problems that meth use can cause, you’ll realize just how dangerous the drug really is.

Before we present our explanation of why meth users get messed up and look miserable, check out the following page where numerous before and after pictures of meth users are displayed, courtesy of law enforcement and The Good Drugs Guide at

Most of the mug shots referenced above are taken at short intervals that show how shockingly fast meth can grow, injure, damage, and destroy a person’s skin and teeth. These effects can be attributed to several aspects of meth abuse and addiction:

Meth face

*When smoked, meth produces toxic chemicals that are then released into the face and hair. While all types of smoke dry out the skin and eventually “heal”, meth smoke is particularly toxic and causes skin aging.

*Meth inhibits circulation, reducing blood flow and reducing the ability to fight the effects of stress, disease and infection.

*Meth users are notorious for skin picking due to the persistent but mistaken feeling that bugs are crawling under their skin. (How Meth Destroys the Body PBS Frontline) Skin picking causes blisters that do not heal properly and in some users leads to infection which can be fatal for most meth users due to lack of concern for personal hygiene.

*Cheeks sink and the face is drawn downward in an aged appearance reminiscent of a stroke victim. This is due to “meth mouth” (discussed below) and malnutrition – a common problem among meth users.

Meth mouth

Meth mouth is a well-known phenomenon that causes severe damage to teeth and other dental problems. Meth is a corrosive substance and is highly toxic; Acids and phosphorus, along with other substances, quickly erode the protective enamel of teeth, leading to rapid tooth decay.

Meth also interferes with the normal function of the salivary glands. Saliva is needed to protect teeth and gums and provide a healthy barrier against harmful types of bacteria. Meth also restricts blood flow to the mouth, which, combined with salivary gland blockage, creates an environment where teeth and oral tissues break down and die in a shockingly short period of time.

Many meth users have broken and damaged teeth that cannot be repaired or would be prohibitively expensive to repair. As a result they are subject to self-esteem and other emotional problems because of their appearance and reluctance to smile.

Meth brain

More than any other drug, meth causes psychosis in the general population. Although the exact cause of psychotic disorders associated with meth use is not fully understood, what is known is that these psychotic episodes can sometimes occur even after a person breaks the addiction and stops using the drug:

“Psychotic symptoms can sometimes persist for months or years after methamphetamine abuse has stopped, and stress has been shown to precipitate spontaneous relapses of methamphetamine psychosis in former psychotic methamphetamine abusers.” (Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction National Institute on Drug Abuse)

Often these psychotic episodes result in active meth addicts and recovering people both intentionally, accidentally, or injuring themselves in physical altercations with other people, healthcare professionals, or law enforcement officials. Some of these injuries are disfiguring and may be permanent, including facial disfigurement.

Overall, meth addicts age fast, behave badly, take dangerous actions, and look like hell while doing it. There is nothing glamorous or exciting about it: the path that meth abusers travel is one that is marked by physical and emotional devastation. And given that serious damage can occur within months of meth use, young people should be warned that they can go from their youth to a toothless and tired old man in as little as 8 weeks. All it takes is consistent meth use.

Don’t spoil your face, your smile, your health; If you’re addicted to meth, seek help now before it’s too late. The sooner you take action, the less likely any damage will become permanent.

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