Methamphetamine (meth) is a powerful stimulant drug known for its ability to produce severe addiction—usually requiring treatment—and change the physical appearance of its habitual users. Some of this physical change comes directly from the effects of the drug itself, and some of it stems indirectly from serious alterations in long-term users’ mental health. Let’s briefly explore these issues and see exactly what meth does to your face.
Essentials of Meth Sores
Meth users are susceptible to three types of facial sores: burns, acne and skin infections. Burns occur when users smoke the drug. Some of the damage comes from contact with extremely hot pipes used to channel methamphetamine smoke into the mouth and lungs. In addition, the smoke itself can become hot enough to injure the skin upon contact. Meth-related acne has three underlying causes:
- Restriction of the skin’s blood flow produced by the drug’s effects on your blood vessels
- Toxic methamphetamine byproducts that leave the body through your skin, and
- The lax hygiene practices common to habitual users of the drug
Skin infections in habitual meth users are also the consequence of the drugs’ negative impact on blood vessel health. When sores appear on your face, you rely on a healthy blood supply to promote the healing process. If you lack this local blood flow, your infection risks increase significantly.
Essentials of Meth Mites
When exploring what meth does to your face, you must consider the impact that habitual consumption of the drug can have on your mental state. While under the influence of meth, a substantial percentage of long-term users experience intense hallucinations. These hallucinations can lead to a belief that insects are crawling on the surface of your skin, or even within your skin. Common terms for these imaginary bugs include “Meth Mites” and “Crank Bugs.” In response to the perceived presence of mites or bugs, users often repeatedly scratch or pick at the skin on their face (as well as the skin on their arms or other parts of their bodies). These behaviors produce sores, which in turn can lead to skin infections and a further decline in facial appearance. Habitual users of methamphetamine can also develop another disfiguring condition known as “Meth Mouth.” This is a form of premature tooth loss triggered by several factors, including:
- A meth-related decline in the saliva needed to keep your teeth healthy
- Lack of regular teeth brushing and other dental hygiene
- Frequent consumption of sugary beverages, and
- Habitual clenching of the jaws and grinding of the teeth
Sources The Meth Project: Deconstructing the Damage – Why Do Meth Users Have Open Sores? http://www.methproject.org/answers/why-do-meth-users-have-open-sores.html#Deconstruction National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens: Meth Mouth and Crank Bugs – Meth–a–Morphosis https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/meth-mouth-and-crank-bugs-meth-morphosis