Methamphetamine (commonly referred to as meth) is an incredibly addictive central nervous system stimulant. In fact, as recently as 2017, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported in a survey that up to 800,000 over the age of 12 used meth within the month before the survey. Huge numbers.
Just as is the case with many other drugs that are commonly abused, meth abuse can lead to serious side effects in the body. Most of these side effects happen inside the body, but some of them are visibly apparent. One such side effect is the physical representation of meth sores. These are basically open sores that appear on the body of people who use and abuse meth regularly. But what do meth sores look like? How do they occur?
A common reason for meth sores is the hallucination that comes with them. Meth abusers constantly itch their bodies because it feels like they practically have insects and bugs crawling underneath their skins. Some people call it “meth skin.” They poke and scratch at this until sores start to open up on the skin. Some meth users don’t even realize that they are doing this until the physical effects become very obvious.
There are other factors that can be responsible for meth sores apart from excessive picking too. These include:
- Burns from meth paraphernalia
- Meth Acne
- A depleted immune system
- Poor hygiene
- Unhealthy diet
- Unsterile injections
Typically, an abuser would get meth sore on the face, the mouth, or the body.
Sores on the Face
Meth functions by increasing dopamine levels in the body, and in the case of regular abusers, the body becomes so accustomed to this constantly high levels of dopamine that it suffers when the user is not on meth. When this happens, the body is unable to create the levels of dopamine required to keep up with what it has become used to, and this leads to symptoms of withdrawal from meth where the user begins to feel ill, paranoid, depressed, or anxious.
These mood changes are accompanied by physical changes, too, as the person becomes uninterested in personal hygiene and begins to experience an acne breakout on the face. These breakouts will then lead to meth face sores when the user keeps picking at their face.
Sores on the Mouth
Meth sores on the mouth are most likely to occur when a meth user is smoking the substance. Smoking meth usually involves using a hot pipe, and there is a good chance of getting burnt in the mouth with this pipe.
Meth Sores on the Body
Meth sores on the body can occur when a meth user uses the injection method. It can also happen when – as suggested earlier – they pick at their skin while hallucinating.
Generally, one can guess how long a meth user has been abusing the substance for by how many meth scabs they have on their skin. The higher the number of sores, the longer the possible period of abuse. Apart from the fact that these sores are extremely unattractive to look at, there are other serious health problems that can happen as a result of an infected meth sore.
The most likely health implication here is an infected sore. When a meth sore is not treated quickly, the wound can become infected, and the seriousness of this infection may vary from mild to severe. Infections can be life-threatening if not treated appropriately, so it is a significant health risk for meth users.
Meth Sores Treatment
The easiest way to deal with skin problems such as meth face sores that occur as a result of meth abuse is to protect them from infection and wait for them to heal while living a healthy lifestyle. Meth rashes, acne, and blisters will heal on their own (if not infected) with this approach, although meth acne may be treated with over-the-counter ointments as prescribed by a qualified doctor. Other long-term effects, such as scars, may not completely disappear forever. Generally, one must:
- Clean wounds with disinfectant and bandage them. Replace these bandages as appropriate
- Avoid itching any wounds
- Stay away from meth
Apart from the treatment of meth sores, anyone who is dealing with meth abuse and addiction needs to recognize the incredible health risk involved. It is best to check into a rehabilitation center and work on getting on the path to a healthy recovery.