Meth addicts seem to physically deteriorate at a faster rate 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 type of deterrent: by posting before-and-after pictures of meth users, people are able to make rapid and graphic associations about the risks of meth addiction. But once you understand exactly what about meth use causes skin, facial and dental problems, you’ll see how dangerous this drug really is.

Before we present our explanation of why meth causes users to deteriorate and begin to look miserable, check out the following page where numerous before and after pictures of meth users are showcased, courtesy of law enforcement and The Good Drugs Guide at

Most of the mug shots referenced above are taken at rather short intervals that show just how shockingly fast meth can cause a person’s skin and teeth to age, injure, deteriorate and break down. These effects can be attributed to a number of 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 tend to dry and eventually “cure” skin, meth smoke is particularly toxic and results in accelerated aging of the skin.

*Meth impedes the circulatory system, reducing blood flow and leading to a diminished capacity to fight the effects of stress, disease and infection.

*Meth users are notorious for skin-picking as a result of the persistent but erroneous feeling that bugs are crawling under their skin. (How Meth Destroys the Body PBS Frontline) Skin picking creates sores that don’t heal correctly and causes infection in some users that could prove life threatening considering the lack of concern that most meth users have for personal hygiene.

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

Meth Mouth

Meth Mouth is a well-known phenomenon results in severely damaged teeth and other dental issues. Meth is a corrosive substance and is extremely toxic; acids and phosphorus, among other substances, quickly deteriorate the protective enamel of teeth, leading to rapid tooth decay.

Meth also impedes the normal functioning of the saliva glands. Saliva is required in order to protect the teeth and gums and provide a healthy barrier against what would otherwise be damaging forms of bacteria. Because meth also restricts blood flow to the mouth, this combined with the impedance of the saliva gland creates an environment where teeth and tissues in the mouth breakdown and die in a shocking short amount of time.

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

Meth Brain

More than any other drug, meth causes psychotic episodes in people who are otherwise normal. While the exact cause of psychoses related to meth use are not fully understood, what is known is that these psychotic episodes can sometimes occur even long after the person has successfully broken from their addiction and stopped using the drug:

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

Often these psychotic episodes cause both active meth addicts and people in recovery to hurt themselves either intentionally, accidentally, or because they become injured during physical altercations with other people, healthcare professionals or law enforcement officers. Some of these injuries are disfiguring and may be permanent, including disfigurement of the face.

Overall, meth addicts age rapidly, behave poorly, engage in dangerous actions and look like hell while they do it. There’s nothing glamorous or exciting about it: the path that meth abusers travel is one that is wrought with physical and emotional ruin. And considering that severe damage can happen in as little as just a couple of months of meth use, young people should be warned that they can go from their young adulthood to a toothless and tired old man in as little as 8 weeks. All it takes is consistent meth use.

Don’t ruin your face, your smile, your health; if you’re addicted to meth, reach out for help now before it’s too late. The sooner you take action, the lower the chances are that any deterioration will be permanent.

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