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 Drugs. They’re not merely molecules that interact with your brain and body. They are agents of change, and sometimes, that change is evident on the very surface of who we are. “How Drugs Affect Your Appearance” is not just a cautionary tale told to scare individuals away from drug use; it’s an unfortunate reality.

Before and After Drugs

When you flip through a magazine or doom scroll on your phone, you might come across shocking “before and after drugs” pics of people who have suffered the brunt of substance abuse. The transformation, or rather deterioration, is stark. It’s the kind of visual storytelling that doesn’t need words. The lesson: drugs are bad.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, but only 10% of them receive treatment. Maybe it’s obvious, but let’s just say this means there are plenty of people out there getting ugly because of drugs (to put it bluntly).

2. Wrong way sign on a road: A 'wrong way' sign on an open road, illustrating the dangerous path of letting drugs affect your appearance.

How Drugs Affect Your Appearance by Substance

Each substance takes a unique toll on the body; here’s a look at what you can expect to happen to your body after prolonged use of some of the more prominent drugs.

  • Alcohol: Chronic alcohol consumption leads to dehydration which makes skin appear dull and dry. Over time, it can cause redness, puffiness, and can exacerbate conditions like rosacea. This also is where the large bulbous nose comes from in many heavy drinkers. It also leads to weight gain, which further changes one’s appearance. Liver damage from alcohol might lead to jaundice, turning the skin and eyes yellow.
  • Cocaine: Cocaine constricts blood vessels, which may lead to a paler skin tone and a reduced ability for the skin to heal, leading to sores and scarring. Nosebleeds are frequent among cocaine users, and with prolonged use, the nasal septum can deteriorate. Coke face is the common term for it, and it’s not pretty.
  • Heroin: Users often experience a sunken face, puffy eyes, and a grayish tint to their skin. The constant scratching, a side effect, can lead to scarred and infected skin.
  • Fentanyl: Much like heroin, fentanyl can cause facial droopiness, a gaunt appearance, and a general sense of physical decay. You also lose a lot of weight. But not in a good way. It looks and feels sickly.
  • Methamphetamine (Meth): Meth is probably the most obvious. It causes severe dental problems (“meth mouth”), weight loss, sores from picking at the skin, and premature aging. The before and after of meth use is enough to cause nightmares.
  • Benzos: Chronic use can lead to a puffiness of the face, bleary eyes, and a slackened facial appearance. Additionally, these drugs can result in motor coordination issues, which might influence the overall posture and gait of an individual, making them appear sluggish or lethargic.

Why You Get Ugly on Drugs

It’s important to understand the physiological reasons behind these changes. Many substances lead to dehydration, malnutrition, or both. This not only affects overall health but impacts skin health and appearance. As well, drugs can mess with the normal hormonal balance of the body. For an example, they can efffect collagen production — a protein vital for skin elasticity. So if you want saggy and wrinkled skin that makes you look about 20 years older, drugs a way to make it happen.

Also, a lot of drugs suppress the immune system. This means you are more susceptible to infections, which can further deteriorate one’s appearance. Compulsive behaviors, like skin-picking can introduce bacteria into the skin, leading to infections and scarring.

Beyond the Physical: Psychological Impacts on Appearance

It’s not just about the tangible, physiological changes. The psychological effects of drug abuse can also show up in your appearance. Chronic drug use often leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. The result? Fatigue, lack of motivation for personal care, and changes in sleeping patterns—all of which take a toll on your looks.

Once bright eyes now look tired and red, the skin appears dull and lackluster, and the overall demeanor just feels (and looks) defeated.

Recovery and Reversal

So, are you nervous that drugs are turning you into a bit of a walking zombie? While the effects of drugs on appearance can be severe, many are reversible. With time, treatment, and abstinence, the body can detox letting its natural regenerative processes kick in.

Proper nutrition, hydration, and skincare will also help. Even more, if a person gets psychological support, many individuals can regain much of their lost vitality and appearance.

If you or someone you know in Benton County, Arkansas, is facing the physical toll of addiction to alcohol or drugs and wants to reclaim a healthier appearance, reach out to EagleCrest Recovery now at (844) 439-7627.

Our experienced team specializes in alcohol and drug detox, providing tailored care to help you regain not only your health but also your self-esteem and appearance. You can get better, not just on the outside, but in your entire person.