One of the most well-known ad campaigns against methamphetamine is called The Faces of Meth. Billboards all over the country show mugshots of people who have just started using the dangerous drugs and then another mug shot after several years of abusing methamphetamine.
The public service announcement perfectly illustrates how meth can destroy a person’s body and even manages to pick up on the loneliness and desperation of these individuals. Some of those drastic changes can happen over just a few months.
What’s The Cause?
Recently, scientists began to wonder exactly what about the drug causes such extreme changes in a person’s physical appearance.
With financial backing from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), researchers from the University of California Irvine and the Italian Institute of Technology began to conduct experiments on rats that were trained to give themselves methamphetamine.
Cell Structure Compromised
After much research, the scientists noted that methamphetamine had a direct impact on the body’s cellular structure.
The drug, when taken over time, began to influence the cell structure of the body and advanced the aging process of the cells.
The phenomenon results in a person looking significantly different after ingesting methamphetamine to the point of addiction.
The Damage Done
Scientists also noted that the drug increased the amount inflammation on the face, a direct result of the damage done to the body’s cells.
Acne manifests or becomes worse, and the sores from picking and scratching at the face and arms because of “crankbug”, the feeling that insects are crawling all over you, stay infected longer, leading to scarring.
It’s bad enough that an addict loses weight and musculature due to a decrease in appetite and the skin loses elasticity.
Then there’s meth mouth, the declining oral health to the point of teeth falling out from decay and rotting gums. But the damage is far worse.
Autopsies Don’t Lie
In the past, scientists have conducted autopsies on people who have passed away from methamphetamine overdoses and discovered information that corroborates the above study.
Those who have died as meth addicts were found to have diseases generally found in older people, such as coronary atherosclerosis and pulmonary fibrosis.
Organ damage to the brain, heart, liver, lungs and skin, that may not be reversible, including liver damage, heart attacks and strokes are just some of the other awful things a meth addict will have to deal with.
Methamphetamine use can also make preexisting heart problems worse.
But wait, there’s more: arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), cardiomyopathy (hardening of the heart muscle), aortic dissection (a tear in the aorta near the heart), and sudden death. And while other drugs may have long term data for decades of use, meth addicts do not live long enough to provide us with any.
Looks are Everything
The following pictures are of meth addicts before and after 4-6 months of use. The changes are devastating and painful to see. Meth is the ultimate time machine, fast-forwarding you to an early grave.
Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that is extremely toxic. Addicts feel a burst of energy, followed by intense euphoria when they consume it, but the negative effects of the drug far outweigh any initial high.
Now, it is known that it causes intense damage on a cellular level, quite in addition to the physical appearance, psychotic behavior and paranoia that accompanies it.
The constant distress that the body is under when using methamphetamine, makes it barely able to heal itself and that contributes to premature aging and a shortening of the lifespan.
*This was originally posted on Feb 17, 2005 and was updated and republished July 24, 2019