Caution: Graphic and disturbing pictures below In an effort to promote awareness of the horrifying effects of methamphetamine abuse, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office of Oregon have released the photos of repeat meth offenders to show how fast the side effects of meth destroy the user’s physical appearance. Their hope is for the before and after photos of consistent meth abuse is shocking enough to dissuade people from using. According to Rehabs.com, “methamphetamine physically alters one’s facial appearance through its physical and psychological side-effects.” Since 1996, the production and use of meth has been on the rise, with more than 13 million people over the age of 12 having used it in the U.S. 529,000 of those are regular users. Skin Even light meth use can cause widespread acne due to the drug’s effects of dry skin and extreme itchiness. Coupled with the common sensory hallucination factor of “bugs crawling beneath the skin,” this often promotes obsessive scratching and picking resulting in sores and facial scarring. The pale skin color is explained by physical stress and frequent illness common to meth addicts, which is caused by a weakening of the immune system. Facial Masculature Meth, like cigarettes, suppresses appetite; it can lead to undernourishment for long periods of time. Eventually, when weight loss becomes dramatic, the body begins to consume its own muscle and facial fat, giving meth users a gaunt, skeletal look. “Meth Mouth” Meth addicts will often lose their teeth abnormally quickly, regardless of how they administer the drug. According to the American Dental Association, meth mouth is probably caused by a combination of the drug’s effect, both physical and psychological. They often experience dry mouth (xerostomia), extended periods of poor oral hygiene, and teeth grinding (bruxism) which combined together, can lead to tooth decay. Advanced Aging With all these issues, a meth addict’s estimated age can appear far more exaggerated. A general theory suggests that because the immune system is constantly fighting off drug toxins, constant use will weaken the immune system to where it can’t fight off illness or injury. When a body system gets to that point, premature aging sets in as the lifetime drops. One more factor to consider in the meth addict’s appearance is the fact that many abuse alcohol and tobacco, thereby magnifying the level of toxins in the body. Meth users should not wait to seek treatment While many symptoms are reversible with proper treatment, the aging and tooth decay are often permanent. Furthermore, meth use can cause psychosis, or psychotic behavior in which the users lose touch with reality and experience delusions, hallucinations and obsessive behavior. It is imperative the user get help immediately, or suffer these physical and psychological effects, not to mention the other symptoms, ruined relationships, financial poverty, and criminal charges. So kids, and adults, remember what your mom told you all those years ago: “Just say no to drugs.” Photo Credits: Faces of Meth Photo Credit: A Syn (Flickr)
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