COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Methamphetamine abuse is on the rise again. Now meth addicts are coping with the lasting effects of the drug and the damage it does to the body. Recovering from drug addiction is a difficult task for most but healing the physical scars addiction can be even more challenging.
Late last month, Monroe County authorities arrested Michael Yielding at his home after discovering thousands of dollars worth of meth. Now, meth addicts are dealing with the aftermath of using the drug. Damaged skin is one of the most obvious side effects.
“When they’re intoxicated from meth, they’ll pick at their skin. This is called Repetitive Stereotype Behavior. It’s actually one of the chemical reactions that meth does to your brain where they get kind of stuck doing the same thing over and over again. One of the ways they get stuck is picking at their skin. Picking either at acne, which may or may not be present or they may hallucinate and see bugs and pick at their skin,” says Crystal Parker, an alcohol and drug therapist at Community Counseling.
Meth users also develop a sweet tooth that can lead to major tooth decay.
“The salivary gland that produces the saliva inour mouth don’t produce as much when you’re on crystal meth. That can cause problems when you’re trying to break down your food. A lot of people that are on crystal meth, they grind their teeth and they drink a lot of sugary products,” says Dr. John Fields, a dentist in Columbus.
“Meth addicts will traditionally crave really sugary sweets so whey they do actually eat, one of the things that you’ll usually see them eating is candy or stuff that’s really loaded with sugar because their body’s been in starvation for sometimes days at a time,” says Parker.
Researchers have yet to determine the long-term affects of the modern day drug. However, they’ve seen short term brain changes in emotional and memory functions. Studies have shown that most brain function will return to normal after about a year. Meth abuse is a world-wide epidemic, affecting nearly 25 million people.