Methamphetamine abuse is a growing problem in the US. The drug can cause serious issues for users, affecting their physical and mental health as well as the overall quality of their lives. Meth skin-picking and abscesses are two of the more concerning issues for people who are addicted to the drug.
Dangers of Meth
The most devastating result of sustained meth use is overdose, which can often be fatal. In fact, there has been a surge of overdose deaths over the past several years. From 2011 to 2018, the number of deaths involving methamphetamines increased from 1.8 to 10.1 per 100,000 men and from 0.8 to 4.5 per 100,000 women. There are no currently FDA-approved medications for reversing meth overdoses.
Additional risksare involved in the short-term and long-term use of meth, including damage to the nervous, renal, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular systems. Short-term use can also result in weight loss, anxiety, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and an abnormally low body temperature. Long-term use can cause damage to the kidneys and liver as well as to the heart. Psychological effects such as paranoia, depression, anxiety, and hallucinations are also potential health hazards.
Common Concerns Among Meth Users
Meth is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It can produce feelings of increased energy and euphoria. It can be used as a white powder, in a semitransparent crystal form, or in pill form. When the meth is injected, it puts the individual at a higher risk of contracting an infection such as hepatitis C or HIV and at a higher risk for skin infections.
A common issue for meth users is the hallucination that they have bugs or parasites crawling under their skin, a condition known as parasitosis. They will try to get rid of the bugs by picking their skin. This type of meth skin-picking will often result in an infection, including the type of infections and abscesses that can make the individual very ill.
Scars left by skin-picking may be embarrassing for the meth user who is seeking treatment for their addiction. However, it’s critically important to get professional medical help for the infection as well as for the substance use, so the individual can return to a healthy life, physically and mentally.
Factors Affecting the Skin
In addition to the neurological sensation of something crawling under the skin, meth users have a number of other risk factors involved that may affect their tendency toward skin-picking and the resulting abscesses. Most seriously, injecting the drug is associated with the development of a condition known as necrotizing fasciitis, a bacterial infection that can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.
In addition, a lack of proper hygiene can contribute to skin issues, particularly infections, abscesses, and cellulitis, also a bacterial skin infection. Many of these infections are self-treated by the meth user, in an attempt to heal the skin or to cover up the fact that they have been engaging in skin-picking.
A staph infection known as MRSA has been found in many of the cases of skin issues treated in the emergency room. Since it is not uncommon for meth users to live in unhygienic situations or to inject the drug in an unsafe manner, they can contract the infection easily. Injecting meth with unsterile equipment, in addition to using contaminated drug solutions, introduces a high load of bacteria to the body and to the skin. In fact, the injection of crystal meth has resulted in frequent visits to the emergency room for treatmentof cellulitis, abscesses, and other types of skin infections.
Treatment for Skin-Picking
These infections and abscesses resulting from skin-picking need to be treated properly and promptly for them to heal and to avoid more serious consequences. The most effective solution to reduce or eliminate the meth skin-picking behavior itself is to treat that individual for their addiction. Once the person has detoxed and the drug leaves their system, the symptoms of hallucinations as well as the perceived need to pick their skin will typically subside as well, usually within a few days or weeks.
Help for Your Addiction
At Hope by the Sea, a southern California addiction treatment center, we focus on helping you begin your journey of recovery from drug abuse as well as mental health issues. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, so you can embrace your recovery with as much support and momentum as possible.
Our team continues to follow federal, state, and local public health guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure our clients’ safety. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!