Some drugs, including cocaine and alcohol, inflict direct damage to the tissues in your body. Others cause different types of damage, depending on how you take them.
Many of the issues that can harm your eyes, ears, nose, throat, teeth, and skin can be reversed when you stop using drugs. But others will persist. And some can shorten your life.
Your eyes are delicate structures that work due to a complex interplay between blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and glands. When one piece of this chain breaks down, the health of the entire eye is at risk.
Researchers say these drugs are associated with eye damage:
Your nose may play a role in your substance abuse. Anything sold as a powder can be snorted, and some people crush pills to snort them. Some drugs cause toxicity when they hit your nose, and the fillers mixed with others can do even more damage.
Cocaine and methamphetamine can harm tissues as they shrink blood vessels. Take them repeatedly, and your nasal passages are starved of both oxygen and nutrition. As cells die, your nose can collapse. You might need surgery to fix the problem.
Researchers say snorting anything, no matter what drug type, can lead to:
When your airways are scarred, you might have long-term problems. Surgery may help, but you may notice the issue every time you breathe in or breathe out.
You might be aware that some substances harm your throat. You might feel a burning sensation when you swallow them, or you might feel a tickle in your throat after a binge. But the damage some drugs can do is subtle. You may not notice the problem until it’s advanced.
Alcohol is commonly associated with throat problems, and it can burn when it’s swallowed. Each sip leaves a bit of damage behind. While your body may work hard to repair the issue, you may drink at a rate your body can’t keep up with. Your esophagus can tear. Or you might develop head and neck cancers.
Researchers say some drugs loosen muscles at the bottom of your throat. That can allow stomach acids to seep in, and when they do, you can develop heartburn. Let that persist, and it can morph into cancer.
A smoking habit can darken your pearly whites. But abusing drugs can cause serious dental problems too, and they can persist whether you smoke the substance or use another method.
Experts say these common drugs are associated with tooth damage:
Some forms of tooth damage can be repaired with the help of a dentist. But very worn or harmed teeth may need to be pulled. You’ll have synthetic versions for the rest of your life.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it can suffer due to ongoing drug abuse. That’s especially true if you use a needle to inject drugs. But some forms of skin damage don’t require a needle at all.
People who inject drugs can develop these issues:
Some types of drugs, including methamphetamine, can compel you to pick at your skin. You can pull open sores on your skin very quickly, and you may not even notice it’s happening.
Even drinking may not be safe. Researchers say that long-term drinkers can develop yellow skin, brown skin, or spider veins. They may also have flushed skin and an enhanced risk of diseases like psoriasis.
Your skin heals very quickly, and with the help of an expert, you could get relief from some of these problems. Infections, for example, can be treated with antibiotics. But you may be left with scars as reminders of the damage done.
Visible changes caused by drug use could prompt you to get addiction care. But this isn’t the only sign that addiction may be an issue for you.
You could need addiction help if: