It’s true: Drugs can make you ugly. Yes, “ugly” is a subjective term, but if you’ve ever seen a before-and-after picture of someone who’s done meth for many years, you’ll likely find some objectivity there. Don’t get us wrong — we’re not out to offend anyone. We simply understand the power of addiction, and we know that there’s beauty inside of everyone. Drugs don’t make anyone prettier or more handsome, and if you need evidence of that fact, it can be found easiest with your own two eyes. If you do drugs for a long period of time, the chances are high you’ll physically deteriorate to such a degree that friends and family may have a hard time even recognizing you. No one wants that, especially not the person looking back at you in the mirror. Don’t wind up ashamed of your own appearance because your body has been ravaged by drug use.
How Drugs Affect Your Body
Drugs are often made out of toxic chemicals that your body neither needs nor wants. Unfortunately for some of us, the short-term desires of our brain outweigh the long-term needs of our body. Drugs can change the concentration of mineral ions in your bloodstream. They can even have a direct effect on the levels of moisture in your blood cells. The dangerous chemicals in drugs interfere with multiple body functions. As your body begins to break down on the inside, the effects can’t be hidden on the outside. Your skin is your body’s biggest organ, so it doesn’t take long for the effects of drug use to quickly show themselves. Drug use affects every part of your body, and here is a list of to what you can expect to see damage: Skin Hair Physique Posture Breath And what’s happening on the outside of your body isn’t all. Long-term drug abuse can have a huge impact on what is going on inside of your body as well. Here’s a short list of the parts of your body that are likely affected:
- Gastrointestinal system
- Respiratory system
- Central nervous system
But drugs negatively impact every part of your body, both internal and external. If you want to avoid looking as bad as you feel, then avoiding illicit drug use is the best way to go. There are a lot of drugs out there, and each carries with it a different set of harmful chemicals and awful side effects. Here’s a closer look at each drug and how it can affect your health, inside and out.
How Meth Can Affect Your Appearance
Methamphetamines (meth) rightly deserve the first spot on this list. Out of any drug, your body deteriorates the fastest — and you look your absolute worst — when on meth. Unlike cocaine, meth isn’t derived from a plant or natural source. It’s purely manmade with ingredients no one would actually want anywhere near their body. Meth is so bad that it even has special monikers for those who use it. If you’re heavy into meth, you may hear people whispering that you have:
- Meth mouth
- Meth skin
- Meth sores
- Crater face
- Track marks (for intravenous users)
In its little baggie, meth might look like an alluring crystalline substance, clear and white. Surely there’s nothing to fear, right? Wrong. The various types of meth available today are all made from some seriously harsh chemicals. Here’s what you’re putting into your body when you do meth:
- Battery acid
- Drain cleaner
- Lantern fuel
- Sodium hydroxide
- Anhydrous ammonia
- Methylene chloride
- Red phosphorous
Imagine having all of those things on your dinner plate. You wouldn’t even be able to breathe. The fumes would react and you might even catch on fire. There’s a reason why meth cooks wear so much gear that they could work in a disease laboratory. Now think about what meth does to your body when you put all of these chemicals in your body. The deterioration happens quickly and efficiently. It doesn’t take long before meth users start to look bad and alike. Once you’ve been doing meth for a while, you can likely expect the following parts of your appearance to degrade:
- Your skin: Several things happen all at once to meth users: You eat less and lose weight. Skin becomes sallow and saggy. It takes on a dull, pale hue in some areas and develops acne in others. Chances are you’re also picking at your skin without even realizing it. This is when sores and scars develop. Patchy areas of dark and light skin make meth users stand out in a crowd.
- Your hair: The chemicals in meth do damage to your hair that no amount of expensive conditioner can stop. Meth users often end up with stringy, thin, brittle hair that sometimes even falls out in patches. Although research hasn’t confirmed it, many longtime meth users who already have a predisposition to baldness may find the onset accelerated by meth abuse.
- Your face: Meth ravages your face with a fury. Since you may be snorting the meth, expect the harsh chemicals and solvents in the drug to strip away the insides of your nose. A time-lapsed video would show obvious collapse over time. Since meth users have erratic sleeping patterns, expect dark, sagging eyelids and yellowish eyes. The lack of eating results in hollowed out cheeks.
- Your mouth: Meth does your mouth no favors. It does, however, do an excellent job at yellowing and rotting out your teeth. The corrosive and harmful chemicals in meth easily eat away at your teeth enamel until there’s often nothing left but nubs. Your gums will be pale and unhealthy and your breath is likely to rival rotten eggs.
- Your physique: Meth abuse often brings on severe weight loss. As you shed pounds your body may actually need, your physique will begin to show it. Posture will become bent, and bones and tendons may begin to show in your extremities.
Besides your outward appearance, meth does damage to the inside of your body as well. The increase in body temperature can cause dehydration, which may restrict blood flow to your kidneys. Smoking meth damages your lungs. Shooting meth intravenously leaves your body marked with needle scars. Meth does your health no good, and your body will start to show it soon after you begin abusing it.
How Cocaine and Crack Affect Your Appearance
Cocaine abuse is one of the fastest growing problems among the middle class. A U.K. study reported 120,000 regular users and 360,000 casual users of cocaine. Of those numbers, 180,000 are using crack. This is out of a population of only 52 million. Although cocaine is naturally derived from the coca plant, the fact that it’s comes from something natural doesn’t mean it won’t negatively affect how you look and feel. Drug dealers often mix the cocaine with other substances in order to make more money. There are two types of cocaine additives: substitutes and adulterants. Substitutes are used to mimic the effects of the cocaine itself, while adulterants are designed to stretch the amount of available cocaine without changing its appearance. Substitutes for cocaine include many types of local anesthetics such as:
Adulterants for cocaine include even harsher chemicals such as:
- Laundry detergent
- Boric acid
Crack is commonly referred to as “poor man’s cocaine.” This harmful substance has thrived in poor neighborhoods and eviscerated entire communities. Crack is manufactured by dissolving cocaine hydrochloride in water and then mixing the resulting solvent with baking soda or ammonia. The mixture is then heated until the hydrochloride evaporates. If you are a heavy crack or cocaine user, it might be obvious because:
- Your nose may run or bleed more than the average person.
- You may cough a lot.
- You may lose a lot of weight.
- Your skin may become pale and sallow.
- If you’re an IV user, you may have “track marks” on your body.
Much like many other drugs, cocaine and crack also destroy your insides. Sleep deprivation and loss of appetite may cause weight loss and put stress on your internal organs. Severe damage to the heart, liver and kidneys are often results of prolonged cocaine or crack abuse.
How Heroin and Prescription Opioids Affect Your Appearance
If cocaine weren’t in the same category as meth, it would have the second-place spot for “quickest to destroy your physical appearance.” Longtime heroin and painkiller abusers are easily spotted in a crowd. While heroin and prescription painkillers may not be made with the worst industrial solvents, their effects are no less dangerous. An opioid addiction also consumes almost every aspect of a user’s life. Since opioids rob your body of appetite and hydration, which is why so many heroin users suffer severe constipation, weight loss is common. Heroin and opioid abuse can also lead to greasy-looking skin and hair. Cheeks become sallow and dark circles appear under your eyes from lack of proper sleep. Intravenous heroin users will quickly develop “track marks” as they try to find new veins to puncture. Intravenous use also often results in skin infections and ugly abscesses that can swell up and ooze puss. But the worst damage from opioid abuse happens inside your body. Longtime heroin and opioid abusers often experience the following debilitating symptoms:
- Blood infections: These usually affect the heart lining and valves. Intravenous heroin use without sterile techniques can cause dangerous infections.
- Liver disease: Up to 80 percent of new hepatitis C infections in the United States each year can be traced back to injection drug abuse. Some research has even shown that snorting through a straw can cause hepatitis transmission. As your liver and kidneys fail, the whites of the eyes can rapidly turn yellow.
- Kidney disease: Heroin abuse interrupts your body’s ability to properly regulate itself. Toxins aren’t efficiently excreted and harmful materials can back up in the body.
In short, when your body starts to fall apart inside, what’s on the outside soon follows. As heroin eats up your insides, your body will be unable to support proper blood flow and function, and your appearance will quickly deteriorate.
How Alcohol Affects Your Appearance
In addition to drug users, more than a few mug shots have also been taken of people who are alcoholics. Alcohol rarely makes you more attractive. Excessive drinking can lead to a number of health issues, from liver disease to mental degradation, but it can also take a huge toll on your physical appearance. You can even upload your picture to an online tool and check out what your face as an alcoholic would look like in 5-year increments. If you’re at the bar and can’t decide if you want that third Long Island iced tea, try downloading the Drinking Time Machine or Drinking Mirror app first. After trying these apps, you’ll likely find your next order is for a glass of water. Alcoholism dehydrates your body and deprives it of essential vitamins and nutrients. Long-term alcohol abuse leads to broken capillaries, a reddened complexion, and a bloated face and neck. According to the National Rosacea Society, alcohol is one of the leading triggers for rosacea. If you’re a heavy beer drinker, you may experience serious weight gain. Alcohol is linked to diabetes and obesity, and alcoholics can often first be spotted by their bulging waistline.
The Case for a Healthy Lifestyle
People are often judged by how they look before they’re judged in any other way. Before you say a single word, a person will often make an immediate judgment of you based on your physical appearance. Is this a good thing? Probably not, but it’s the world we live in. Sometimes it’s a lot harder to understand how terrible drug and alcohol abuse is when the damage is being done internally. After all, we can’t exactly see what is going on inside our bodies, and it’s often “out of sight, out of mind.” But when you look at yourself in the mirror or when others look at you, it’s a lot easier to say to yourself, “This is what drugs and alcohol are doing to me.” Don’t be that person. You have a life to live, and how you look can have a direct impact on your interactions with others. Don’t let such drugs or alcohol affect your life like this. Avoid drug and alcohol abuse to stay looking as healthy and youthful as possible. For more information, browse our website or sign up for the The Ranch PA newsletter. Share this with family and friends to remind them why the healthy way is always the right way.