Millions of Americans are trapped in a cycle of drug abuse and addiction: In 2013, over 24 million reported that they had abused illicit drugs or prescription medication in just the past month.1 More than 1.7 million were admitted to treatment programs for substance abuse in 2012.2 The pursuit of a drug habit can cost these people everything – their friends and family, their home and livelihood. And nowhere is that impact more evident than in the faces of addicts themselves.

Here, the catastrophic health effects of drug abuse are plain to see, ranging from skin scabs to decayed and missing teeth.3 While meth is often seen as one of the most visibly destructive drugs, leading to facial wasting and open sores,4 various other illicit drugs, and even prescription medications can cause equally severe symptoms when continuously abused. The use of opioids like OxyContin or heroin can cause flushing and a rash of red bumps all over the skin,5 while cocaine abuse can result in a significant drop in appetite and dangerous malnutrition and weight loss.6 Ecstasy may cause grinding of teeth,7 and smoking cannabis releases carcinogens and other chemicals that can diminish skin collagen and produce an appearance of premature aging.8 Even alcohol abuse can lead to wrinkles, redness, and loss of skin elasticity.9

 

Beyond the direct effects of substance abuse, perhaps its most damaging result is addiction itself. The compulsion of addiction makes drug use the most important purpose in an addict’s life, leading them to pursue it at any cost and treat anything else as secondary. Self-neglect becomes normal – an accepted cost of continuing to use drugs. And the consequences of addiction can remain etched in their very skin for years.

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Disclaimer

The individuals in these photos were arrested on drug charges or related charges. There may be errors in arrest record reporting. All persons are considered innocent of these charges until proven guilty. These photos do not necessarily show the direct result of drug abuse or addiction. Rather, this depicts the physical deterioration of individuals who have been involved in repeated arrests, indicative of a life of crime and/or substance abuse.

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If any individuals depicted are seeking treatment for addiction, please contact us. Rehabs.com will work with you and we are willing to provide financial assistance.

Q: These are extreme cases right? Most alcohol users or drug users will never look like this.
A: These are extreme cases, and while it is true that most occasional users would not display these symptoms of deterioration, it is worth considering that any individuals who do show this level of deterioration likely never thought their casual use would ultimately result in hardcore addiction. That is how powerful the disease of addiction is, and how devastating it can be to those who fall victim to its effects.

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Sources

1. http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabsPDFWHTML2013/Web/HTML/NSDUH-DetTabsSect1peTabs1to46-2013.htm#tab1.1a

2. http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/quicklink/US12.htm

3. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/body/

4. http://www.methproject.org/answers/why-do-meth-users-have-open-sores.html#Deconstruction

5. http://www.news-medical.net/health/Opioid-Side-Effects.aspx

6. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine

7. http://www.dentalhealthweek.com.au/Adults/Lifestyle-Risks/drugs.html

8. http://www.leafscience.com/2013/11/17/dermatologists-marijuana-can-improve-skin-smoke/

9. http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/jodi-sawyer-rn/how-fast-can-alcohol-age-you

 

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