How Drug Abuse Destroys Your Skin and Complexion

Drug addiction affects your body, causing serious and long-lasting health problems. The condition of your skin and the health of your complexion may be an indicator of more serious problems.

Your Skin Affects Your Self Confidence

When your health is poor, it shows. Drug use may not make much difference in your appearance in the early stages, but over time, it will take its toll.1 The appearance of your health and your skin can affect your self-esteem as well as your social relationships and opportunities. Your skin and complexion may be an indicator of more serious problems in the works.

Take a look at the following signs of poor complexion, and see what you skin is telling you:

Dark Spots

Dark spots are usually a sign of aging, but trauma and poor nutrition can cause dark spots in young people as well. Poor circulation, often a byproduct of drug use, can lead to bruising and permanent skin marks. Neglecting personal care can lead a drug user to spend excess time in the sun which can also lead to dark spots.

Dry, Flaky Skin

Dry skin can be a sign of dehydration. Many drugs can cause your body to work harder in an effort to flush out toxins, which leads to dry and flaky skin. Smoke from illegal drugs can cause flaking and dryness. Dry skin is more prone to blemishes, wounds and poor healing.

Chapped, Peeling Lips

Smoking, lack of oral hygiene and corrosive drugs can all lead to chapped lips. Dry lips are a primary symptom of dehydration.

Uneven Skin Tone & Blotchiness

If you are malnourished, exhausted or dehydrated, you may experience color changes in skin including spots and creases that were not present before. Many stimulant drugs such as cocaine, crack cocaine and Ritalin and opiate drugs like heroin and pain pills can all lead to nutritional issues.2 Later stages of addiction can cause the user to neglect regular meals and foods leading to malnutrition.


Rashes can indicate an allergic reaction, serious medical illness or a drug reaction. Scaly skin and itchy skin can indicate irritation or a contagious condition. Get any skin rash checked out by a medical doctor immediately.


Acne can indicate a buildup of bacteria on the skin or a neglect of hygiene.


Wrinkles in skin can be caused by sudden weight loss, smoke or other toxins in an environment. Chronic drug use can lead to premature wrinkling of skin.3


The condition of your physical health and your mental health is more important than the condition of your skin and appearance. But those can offer telling signs that should not be ignored. When your daily life is affected by drug and alcohol use, those substances control every part of your existence.

>>> READ THIS NEXT: Why Addiction is a Disease

Get Drug Abuse Help Now

If drug use is taking a toll on your body or you see it in your loved one, it is time to seek help. We are here to support you. Our toll-free helpline, 844-496-9429, is staffed by caring and professional admissions coordinators. We can help you find licensed treatment, rehab, detox, family support and more. Please call our confidential helpline now to find out how we can help you.


Stampler, Laura, “These Photos Show How Heroin, Cocaine and Oxycodone Change Your Appearance Over Time.” Time. March 24, 2014.

“Cocaine.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. June 2016.

Castagnoli, Francesca, “Fix Your Top Skin Complexion Problems.” October 29, 2013.

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