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Effects of Drug Abuse on the Skin

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Drug abuse can show on your body, especially if you have had an addiction for many years. It doesn’t take long for the skin to reflect an addiction, and the results can be dramatic. Someone with a drug addiction may appear older than they are, because drug abuse can sap your body of essential nutrients and prevent you from taking care of your health and hygiene.

Drug Abuse and Your Skin


The more you use drugs, the more it shows up on your skin. Hyperpigmentation may start to occur where the skin darkens at various points, most noticeably at the site of injection. After prolonged periods of drug abuse, the skin on the face can appear grey, pale, or washed-out.

Oral disease

The skin on the lips and gums can become inflamed and swollen or cracked and dry. Drug abuse also commonly leads to tooth decay and a possible loss of some or all teeth. Drugs are toxic to the body, and methamphetamine in particular can result in ‘meth mouth,’ where it’s not just the skin but the entire mouth that is affected.

Skin irritation

Drugs can cause redness, irritation, or itching, especially at the source of a needle injection. Sometimes the skin can break out into a rash or become extremely dry. A combination of drugs can cause irritation, as can abuse of prescription or illicit drugs. These side effects can even be seen under supervised use of prescription drugs.


If acne is already present, drug abuse can intensify it. If someone who previously had no history of acne becomes addicted to drugs, they may develop severe acne. This could be related to an increased tendency to touch the face when using drugs.

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Sores and scarring

Drug users may experience hallucinations that include a feeling of crawling insects under the skin. They may claw or pick at the skin on their face or body to relieve these feelings. This leads to open sores or defined scarring. Permanent scars, or ‘needle tracks,’ become visible in the arms of injection drug users.

Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI)

Drug abuse makes it hard for your body to fight back against infection, because the immune system is weak. Any infections that appear in the skin can take a long time to heal, and may even grow worse. Many users who inject drugs with a needle have infections at the point of entry, which become more severe with repeated use. Others find that infections start to appear and do not heal.

If you or someone you love is suffering from the effects of alcohol abuse, substance addiction or any other type of addiction, please call us today.  Substance abuse counseling can help you deal with physical, emotional and psychological consequences of drug and alcohol abuse.  A substance abuse treatment program is effective, safe and has helped many men reclaim their lives. Destination Hope is a full service drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis treatment facility in Florida for men suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues.

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