woman with skin problems from drug abuse, drug rehab south florida, drug abuse and addiction on the skin

Drug and alcohol abuse significantly impacts many aspects of human health, including organ damage, psychological health, the immune system, and cerebral blood flow. While drug addiction may not directly damage skin health, it indirectly impacts the skin through its effects on these bodily functions.

The Hidden Impacts of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Individuals who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse don’t always exhibit physical signs of addiction but grapple with the internal effects. Addiction can sabotage someone’s physiological, neurological, psychological, and cardiovascular health in several ways. While one of the most concerning health risks of substance abuse is overdose, drug addiction can cause liver damage, heart disease, brain damage, hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS.

Substance use disorders (SUDs) often intertwine with mental health conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, mood disorders, PTSD, and personality disorders. The cycle of drug and alcohol addiction sabotages various aspects of an individual’s life and overall health and still be difficult for them to break.

man struggling with drug abuse and poor skin health

Drug abuse can also affect someone’s interpersonal relationships and social life, such as abuse of trust, emotional distress, and financial struggles. Illicit substance abuse can also compromise community health and safety, increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, and domestic incidents. Individuals who abuse drugs are likelier to partake in criminal or violent behavior, which can result in legal consequences and further impact their social and relational status.

Chronic drug users experience a range of psychological issues from certain drugs, including hallucinations, paranoia, or persistent delusions. These hallucinations can include skin crawling and the delusion of bugs underneath the skin, leading to excessive itching and picking. The cardiovascular, neurological, psychological, and physiological effects of drug abuse can provoke various cutaneous manifestations and morbidities.

How Drug Abuse Damages the Skin

While drug abuse does not directly impact the skin, its adverse effects on blood flow, immune function, hormonal balance, and psychological health all indirectly damage skin health. Illicit drug use, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, hallucinogens, and opioid abuse, can lead to slow skin healing processes, poor skin care and hygiene, cutaneous conditions, and skin cancer. Cocaine abuse can lead to severe vasculitis, also referred to as cocaine-induced vasculitis. The vasoconstriction caused by cocaine abuse can lead to areas of dead skin, also known as necrosis.

Heroin, the illicit opioid, can also trigger itchy skin due to the stimulation of mast cells and the release of histamine, a chemical that plays a role in allergy symptoms. Methamphetamine (meth) users may have grayish skin, excessive sweating, tooth decay, and formication. Formication is a hallucination of bugs crawling on or under the skin, leading to excessive itching or picking of the skin.

excessive itching and skin problems from drug abuse and addiction

Decreased Blood Flow

Several different types of drugs have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, including tobacco, cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, alcohol, and hallucinogens. Abusing these substances can lead to vascular constriction, which decreases cerebral blood flow to the skin. This can also lead to vasoconstriction, tachycardia, and unpredictable blood pressure impacts. Poor blood circulation can cause an unhealthy complexion and the skin to become pale in illicit drug users. This may slow the healing process of skin wounds, bruises, or infections.

Immune System Compromise and Infections

Drug abuse can impact the immune system, making the skin more susceptible to bacterial infections like cellulitis, fungal infections, and necrotizing fasciitis. Substances that compromise the immune system can also weaken the skin’s ability to heal and fight off common skin conditions.

Injecting drugs can introduce toxins and infections around the injection site and under the skin. This can precipitate ulcers, scarring, and other skin and systemic diseases. Sharing needles with other IV drug users can also transmit bloodborne illnesses and heighten the risk of HIV, sepsis, and viral hepatitis.

Hormonal Disruption on the Skin

Illicit drug abuse can severely disrupt the endocrine system and lead to various hormonal dysfunctions in the body. Individuals who struggle with drug abuse and addiction may experience decreased production of hormones and endocrine abnormalities. Hormonal imbalances, such as abnormal levels of testosterone or estrogen, can precipitate acne, unusual hair growth or hair loss, and poor skin complexion.

Poor Hygiene and Substance Abuse

People with an alcohol or drug addiction often struggle with poor lifestyle habits, including malnutrition and lousy hygiene. Chronic drug users usually neglect their hygiene, which can lead to poor skin health and exacerbate existing skin problems. Poor dietary habits in drug users can also lead to dehydration and malnutrition, which can weaken the skin’s barrier. This neglect can lead to severe acne problems, dry skin, dermatitis, loss of skin elasticity, and other skin conditions requiring dermatological attention.

Psychological Impact

The psychological impact of drug abuse can increase levels of stress and anxiety in users, leading to acne breakouts, severe itching, and oily skin. For drug users with existing skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, or acne, psychological stress and anxiety can worsen these conditions.

Chronic pruritus, also known as chronic itch, is incredibly common in individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD). Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine can produce hallucinations of skin crawling and infestation-like sensations under the skin. Excessive scratching and skin picking from drug abuse can lead to dry and brittle skin, cuts, and severe skin damage.

man seeking addiction treatment for drug abuse in drug rehab center

South Florida Drug Rehab Treatment for Drug Abuse and Skin Health

We understand how difficult it can be to break the cycle of drug abuse and addiction. At Rock Recovery Center, our drug and alcohol rehab in Palm Beach, FL, we address the direct and indirect consequences of drug abuse on the human body. Our holistic addiction treatment programs in South Florida incorporate medical detoxification, nutritional support, behavioral psychotherapies, and dual diagnosis treatment for those with mental health conditions. Recovering from drug abuse not only detoxifies the body from the substances but can also improve the complexion and overall health of the skin.

If you’re looking to break the cycle of drug abuse and get sober, don’t hesitate to reach out today! We’re here to support you every step of the way.