faces of substance abuse drugs and alcohol

How Your Face Changes With Different Drug Habits

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Facial Changes with Substance Abuse

Millions of Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse can cost people everything – from friends to family, homes, and their livelihood. The impact of addiction is even more evident on the faces of addicts themselves. 

The catastrophic result of substance abuse is physically visible and can range from decayed teeth to skin scabs. Illicit drugs come with different side effects, but one thing is common: they all have a different face! 

The Different Faces of Substance Abuse

Continuously abusing drugs or alcohol is damaging and can result in many debilitating physical conditions. Addicts make drugs the most important thing in their lives, leading them to pursue it at all cost thereby neglecting their health and bodies. When self-neglect becomes a normal way of life, the consequence will remain etched on a person’s skin for years to come. Let’s take a look at how different drugs can change the looks of people with an addiction problem.


Meth is often regarded as one of the most visibly destructive drugs. People who are addicted to Methamphetamine are prone to weight loss, teeth decay, facial sores, and accelerated aging. The drug has a drying effect on the skin, which causes itching.

skin disorders from drug abuse - before and after example


Opioids like heroin and OxyContin can cause flushing and a rash of red bumps all over the body. When these drugs are abused, they cause weight loss, skin abscesses, cellulite, and scabs. The scabs are caused by picking the skin due to dryness. Heroin addicts lose their skin radiance and tend to look dull and wasted. This is because it lowers the body’s blood pressure and heart rate, and as the blood supply is reduced, skin and nails look bluish and flushed. 

skin disorders from drug use - before and after example


The most significant effect of cocaine abuse is the inflamed nose that many users have. It is common to see people addicted to cocaine with reddish noses that appear to be inflamed all the time. Cocaine abuse can result in a significant loss of appetite and severe malnutrition and weight loss.


This is a Schedule II drug and has both psychological and physical side effects. Mainly, oxycodone causes bloodshot eyes which make users look tired and drowsy. It also makes the skin look flushed and can cause weight gain because users tend to have an inconsistent appetite.


For some people this is harmless, but for others, it is a habit that can affect their health and change the way they look. Alcohol dehydrates the body and leaves the skin looking dry. This habit can cause a condition called rosacea, which is a skin disorder that induces frequent blushing and flushing. As alcohol is consumed, it opens up blood vessels, causing bloating and redness. Over time this will disfigure the face. however, when alcohol abuse stops, the body will naturally correct itself.


How your face and body changes with alcohol and drugs - infographic

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