The Effects of Crystal Meth on Physical Appearance

Girl Sits In A Depression On The Floor Near The WallWhen an individual chooses to use marijuana, their physical appearance may not change much. If that same person begins using the methamphetamine known as crystal meth, he or she can expect radical changes in appearance. In fact, the changes are so vivid and disconcerting that a deputy in Oregon began an unofficial study wherein he compared mug shots taken of inmates who had been booked with crystal meth in their systems. The project – now called “Faces of Meth” and published by the Oregonian Newspaper – works with inmates and educators to share information and deter youth from trying this powerfully addictive stimulant.

Weight Loss Due to Crystal Meth

From the Hollywood elite to Midwestern housewives, individuals who have found it difficult to lose weight have fallen into the mistaken belief that it is possible use crystal meth “just long enough” to get skinny. Amphetamine is an appetite suppressant, as is its offspring methamphetamine. Unfortunately, crystal meth is highly addictive and before long, tolerance develops, and the drug user must increase the amount of drugs they consume to continue the effects. As this cycle continues, what was meant to a quick way to lose a few pounds turns the addicted individual into a gaunt shadow of their former self.

Damage to Teeth: Meth Mouth

According to an article published in the New York Times, one of the most gruesome effects on one’s physical appearance due to crystal meth affects the teeth. “Meth mouth” has certain distinctive characteristics, including:

  • Blackened teeth
  • Irritated and retreating gums
  • Severely softened enamel with the consistency of “ripened fruit”
  • Teeth that disintegrate to stubs
  • Tooth loss

There are several theories regarding why the damage takes place. According to one dentist, it starts with dry mouth, caused by the use of the drug. Saliva plays a role in controlling bacteria in the mouth. With the absence of the saliva, the bacteria are able to create more havoc. Secondary, but just as damaging, is the consequent need to consistently drink. The sugary drinks craved by many of those addicted to crystal meth speeds the decay process on the teeth. Finally, those who use crystal meth tend to grind their teeth, the action of which encourages the teeth to twist in place as the teeth become loose and fragile.

A final component to the decay of teeth is the addiction, itself. When an individual becomes addicted, the disease can affect one’s ability to perform even the most basic rituals of daily hygiene, including bushing one’s teeth.

Open Sores and Scarring

One of the side effects of crystal meth use, according to the Sara Bellum blog from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is the presence of hallucinations. Specifically, those who use crystal meth will believe they are covered in insects, either on their skin or nesting beneath the skin. The hallucination is so strong that the individual will dig through the skin to “remove” the pests. This can result in open, infected sores that take a long period of time to heal. When they do heal, the sores may leave behind intense scarring. Generally, this will occur on the face and arms.
Premature Aging

Looking at images, specifically the booking photos taken by police agencies, of crystal meth users shows an enhanced aging process. Crystal meth reduces the elasticity in skin, according to a report from NBC News’ Channel 9 in Colorado. When this happens the skin is far less resilient, and an individual can appear to age 10 times faster than normal.

Getting Help for Crystal Meth Addiction

Drug abuse, in general, isn’t pretty, but crystal meth addiction has the most pronounced effect on the outward appearance of someone who suffers from addiction. Getting help to quit using crystal meth is the best way to prevent these terrible effects or to put an individual suffering from addiction on a course to correcting the damage.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has indicated that a person looking for effective treatment should investigate five specific aspects for the best results. These aspects include the length of the treatment period, whether evidence-based treatments are utilized, whether the treatment is personalized to the needs of the individual, whether the program is flexible enough to change with any altered circumstances that may develop, and how proven 12-step concepts are included in the plan.

Here at Axis, we have the experience and commitment to creating the very best treatment program for anyone who is afflicted with addiction to crystal meth. We can help you or a family member overcome the obstacles that are preventing you from reaching your full potential. Call today to find out how we can help you.