We all know that the teen years are a time when appearance is a major concern. While teens worry that too much chocolate or pizza might cause an acne breakout, do they know that drug abuse can cause serious, disfiguring skin problems? Here are the facts to help you educate your teen on how to stay healthy – and gorgeous!
The Damage Done
Alcohol abuse causes liver damage. That affects the skin by causing waxy skin, “toad skin” (excessive dryness and wrinkling, causing the skin to feel like a toads!), rashes on the face, and a red, thick tongue. Who wants to go to the prom looking like that???
Alcohol abuse can also cause jaundice (yellow skin), itching and hives. Who needs hives while taking finals?
Drug abuse weakens the immune system, which can result in psoriasis, a condition where cells build up on the skin that make it dry, itchy, scaly and red in patches. Eeeeew!
Injectable drugs are even worse. We’re all familiar with the “needle tracks” that appear on the skin of chronic heroin users, but did you know that injecting too often can cause ulcers that are resistant to healing and leave scars?
Don’t Scratch That Itch
Users of meth, cocaine and ecstasy often experience that itching sensation we mentioned earlier, technically called pruritus, which makes them want to scratch all over. Some even feel like there are bugs crawling on their skin! The obsessive need to scratch is why so many meth users are covered with scars from destroying their skin.
Itching seems to be a common symptom of drug abuse, across all classes. Depressants such as alcohol, marijuana and benzodiazepines (Xanax and Ativan for example) can cause itching. So can opioids, such as codeine, oxycodone, morphine and heroin.
Now Is the Time
Substance abuse is just as bad for your skin as it is for your brain, your wallet, and your future. The worst danger is that teens, who feel immortal, don’t realize the dangers and what starts as experimentation can develop into a lifelong habit with irreversible consequences. While young brains are forming, habits are forming too. The teen years are crucial.
Talk to your teens now. Don’t wait for their peers or their schools to educate them about the dangers of substance abuse. No young and healthy body should be destroyed by drug use because they just didn’t think it was a “big deal.”
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