Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth or crystal, is a highly potent stimulant drug. It may be taken orally, snorted, smoked or injected. The drug produces feelings of euphoria in users, which is followed by a crash. Meth users also develop a tolerance for the substance requiring a higher dosage to achieve the same high with each use. Over one million Americans over the age of 11 admitted to using methamphetamine in the past year in 2009 according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Before and after pictures of methamphetamine users highlight the dramatic changes a person undergoes after long-term use of the drug. Read on to find out more about how meth may affect a person’s health and appearance.
People who use meth experience side effects with each use. These side effects include an increase in heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure, which puts users at risk for a heart attack, stroke and even death. After the drug’s effects have subsided, many experience disrupted sleeping patterns, depression, anxiety, a decreased appetite and lack of energy. Chronic users or heavy users of the drug usually experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. These symptoms include an intense craving for meth, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. Long-term users often develop mental issues including confusion, anxiety, depression, insomnia, paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. Even after a person quits, long-term meth abusers may experience these mental effects for years. Studies in chronic users have shown that meth suppresses emotional and cognitive skills. While under the effects of the drug many people also engage in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex and sharing needles, and meth users have a greater chance of developing sexually transmitted illnesses like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C.
Changes in Appearance
Along with dozens of health complications associated with methamphetamine abuse, the drug also takes a visual toll on users. Meth irritates the skin. Users who already have acne will often see their condition worsen, and many who have never suffered from skin issues will suddenly develop acne. Because chronic users often suffer from obsessive behaviors such as skin picking, many end up picking this acne and develop open sores and permanent scars on their face. Some meth users also pick their entire body because they believe insects are crawling underneath their skin. Methamphetamine suppresses the appetite, and many users go for hours and days without eating. As a result, most long-term users suffer from malnourishment and massive weight loss. The lack of nutrients also leads to hair loss and hair and nail breakage. Over time, many develop a hollow expression because they lose so much facial tissue from drastic weight loss. Perhaps the most irreversible visual damage of meth users are the dental effects the drug may have. Meth is often combined with harsh, toxic substances that dissolve tooth enamel when smoked. Meth also causes blood vessels to constrict, and this leads to gum and tooth decay. The combined visual effects of meth use make many users appear ten years older than their real age.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive substance and many users have difficulty quitting without medical help. If you or a loved one are suffering from a substance abuse issue, please call the substance abuse hotline at 800-447-9081 to find out how to get help.