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Faces of Meth: Addicts' Before and After Photos Show The Toll The Drug Takes

By Nadia-Elysse Harris
“Faces of Meth” is an initiative that local police departments in the U.S. began in the early 2000s to show the physical toll methamphetamine addiction takes on your body.

One of the most well-known physical signs of methamphetamine abuse is “meth mouth.” Meth mouth is a term used to describe the tooth decay that occurs as a result of long-term meth use. But it’s not the only physical deterioration you or your loved one can expect if you’re struggling with meth addiction. 

“Meth has a direct impact on the body's cellular structure, which can therefore change the body in a physical way,” Guiseppe Aragona, MD, a general practitioner and family doctor at Prescription Doctor, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Over time, with these cellular changes, the body will move into advanced aging, which will make someone look older than they are. These cellular changes can affect the entire body, but most people will notice changes in the face, which is why phrases such as 'meth mouth' or 'meth face' are very common.”

Physical Signs of Long-term Meth Use

Some physical signs of meth use include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Skin sores
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Sweating
  • Tooth decay
  • Itchy skin or rashes

Long term meth abuse leads to addiction as well as anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, violent behavior, and physical side effects such as ‘meth mouth,’” Nikola Djordjevic, MD, says.

Weight loss and dental problems are also signs of meth abuse, Djordjevic says: "Weight loss results from the effect of meth on suppressing the appetite and increasing brain activity. Dental problems occur due to the poor nutrition and dental hygiene in addition to the corrosive effects of the drug on the mouth causing conditions such as xerostomia (dry mouth), gum disease, and tooth enamel fracture due to grinding and clenching of the teeth while under the effect of the drug.”

“Faces of Meth” is an initiative that local police departments in the U.S. began in the early 2000s to show the physical toll methamphetamine addiction takes on your body. These widely shared photos include mug shots from users’ first drug-related arrest to their most recent one. Some of the users in these photos are unrecognizable from their first photo to their last—sunken in faces, open sores, and blank stares.


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Don’t Wait. Get Help Now.

“I would suggest that if you know somebody in the position, to help them get the support that they need,” Aragona says. “These physical changes are something that can be reversed, but it will take time to do so, and a lot of help and healthcare for the person.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with methamphetamine addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to get you started on the road to recovery.

Treatment & Resources for Meth Addiction