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Meth sores are most commonly seen on an individual’s face, particularly on the mouth, checks, or forehead. Sores may appear to look like acne or a rash but often become infected and spread. According to an article in Family Practice News, sores from meth use can occur from several different methods.
As individuals continue to abuse methamphetamine, they begin to pay less attention to their self-care, and sores can become infected. In addition, these individuals often do not eat properly, bathe, maintain personal hygiene, etc., and this can make the situation worse. Those who get into the recovery and quit using meth may require dermatological treatments to treat some of the damage.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2015 examined the mouths of 571 chronic meth abusers and found the following:
The ADA describes “meth mouth” as being characterized by gum disease and severe tooth decay that often results in teeth breaking or even falling out of the mouth. The extensive decay includes:
The ADA reports that meth mouth is a result of several different factors, including:
In addition, the ADA reports that chronic meth abusers also often have very poor diets that include sugary foods, fatty foods, and extensive consumption of junk food, such as soda, which contribute to the above issues.
Methamphetamine-associated psychosis (MAP) is a psychotic disorder that is caused by the use of crystal meth. MAP presents similarly to schizophrenia in that individuals experience hallucinations and/or delusions. The hallucinations associated with MAP can be:
The delusions associated with methamphetamine-associated psychosis include:
It is not uncommon for chronic meth users to have extreme issues with paranoia and suspiciousness. Some individuals may also develop obsessive-compulsive behaviors, such as compulsive hand-washing or hair-pulling. Skin picking as a result of having the sensation of “meth mites” is extremely common.
Psychotic behavior associated with MAP is directly tied to changes in neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine (as is the psychosis that occurs in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders) and structural changes in the frontal cortex of the brain. In addition, numerous genetic associations have been found to interact with the increased susceptibility for individuals to have specific types of psychotic behaviors. Individuals who chronically abuse meth for longer periods of time will often experience more issues with paranoia, hallucinations, and other delusions. The damage associated with chronic meth abuse is particularly salient in the frontal part of the brain that is associated with attention, reasoning, and judgment.
Treatment consists of getting individuals into recovery and using antipsychotic medications to control any reoccurring delusions or hallucinations. Some of the changes to the neural substrates in the brain associated with chronic meth abuse may not be reversible. These include:
Stimulant drug abuse is associated with quite a bit of variation in its effects on sexual functions. Previous research studies have indicated that some subjects who abused stimulants, like methamphetamine, report having increased libido, whereas others report issues with sexual dysfunction as a result of stimulant abuse. Recent research has found that chronic abusers of stimulants were more than twice as likely to have issues with sexual dysfunction as individuals who had no substance abuse issues.
These effects are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the detrimental effects associated with chronic meth abuse. Damage to other organs, including the lungs, cardiovascular system, liver, and kidneys, is also well documented as a result of chronic abuse of methamphetamine.