3 Substances That Kill Your Skin (Images)


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Although it’s often an afterthought for many people, your skin is an organ–the largest one in your body. Taking care of your skin is not only as important as taking care of all the rest of your organs but, moreover, your skin doesn’t lie. We can see the outward damage of many different types of toxic substances in the skin and drugs are no exception.

No matter your beauty regimen, certain drugs are going to deteriorate the skin in a way that the best creams and scrubs can’t undo. Your looks don’t come close to the top of the list of why you shouldn’t use, but here are three substances that really go in for the kill when it comes to skin damage.

Skin damage isn't usually a deterrent from substance abuse but these pictures may make you think twice.

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Also known as crystal meth, this substance is often used because it can increase feelings of energy and concentration while elevating the mood. But meth is an incredibly dangerous and toxic drug – just ask your skin. Those who regularly use meth usually have damaged skin, which can come in many forms. Excess sweating from meth can cause oily skin while constricted blood vessels to the skin from meth can cause the skin to turn a grayish color and appear leathery. Finally, those who regularly use meth often suffer from what is referred to as “meth mites,” which are sores that occur because of continued scratching of the skin. This kind of scratching takes place because users often suffer from hallucinations that make them feel as though bugs are crawling all over their skin.

mug shot of man after crystal meth


Cocaine, also known as coke or crack, is often used for many of the same initial reasons as meth: users want to feel an increase in energy and an elevation in mood. However, the momentary rise in energy and mood isn’t worth the damage cocaine can wreck on the skin. Rotting skin tops the list of horrible skin side effects caused by cocaine. This literal decay of skin can occur in those who regularly use cocaine, especially cocaine adulterated with levamisole as presented by the New England Journal of Medicine, which can destroy blood vessels in the skin that prevent blood flow to the extremities. Other impacts cocaine can have on the skin include infections stemming from the injection site or excessive scratching.

woman's face with levimisole poisoning


Although so commonly used, consuming alcohol regularly can completely wreck the skin. The first and main line of assault on the skin at the hand of alcohol is dehydration. The effects of dehydration on the skin aren’t desirable and are readily apparent: the skin becomes less plump and is pulled tightly in a way that can cause premature wrinkles. If you combine alcohol with sugar – which happens regularly in cocktails and wine– the impact on the skin can be even greater since the added ingredient can cause inflammation. This also contributes to the premature aging of the skin, manifested in the form of wrinkles and dryness, among other signs.

closeup of dry skin

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