Where's Dylan?
Wow. I feel bad for these people but…whoa. People need to see this stuff.
I've always wondered what component of meth (and to a degree heroin or speed, but seemingly meth in particular) destroys the skin of chronic users like that. It has to be simply more than not taking care of yourself. Anyone know the science of what's going on here?
To be fair, more than half of them appear to have already had meth faces in the before pictures.

Also, picture #30 FTW.
@3, one of the most common effects is the sensation that bugs are crawling under your skin. it's a delusion from going without sleep. they dig at their skin to stop the tickling.

here are some PSAs from the Montana Meth Project that everyone should watch and pass on:…
@3 Yeah - apparently in some cases, meth also changes the entire shape of your face. It's crazy.
"crank bugs" they call it. i just found one website that attributes it to the irritation of nerve endings in your skin due to cycles of sweating and drying out. but more often i've heard that it's due to lack of sleep.
this is as old as the internet
@5 and 6, the internet is telling me either that a) the body expels meth through your skin (accompanied by a dozen disgusting anecdotes involving scab eating and puss smoking), or; b) meth weakens blood vessels and hinders circulation, causing the sort of problems that lead to bad skin. Neither explaining negates what either of you said, but it'd be interesting to get science to chime in here.
maybe, @8, but there are new ones added - the second page was full of faces i hadn't seen before. it's always good to see them again, anyway. admit it, they're worse than you remember.
@9 what you are saying is definitely true. i had a friend who did it all the time and she smelled like a chemical factory. it was coming out through her pores. i never knew that it was tied into the itching. thanks for educating me!
Gold for 29-to-30, based on expressiveness and hair.
@13, to be popular on blogs put on the web by local alternative weekly newspapers.
These would have even more impact if you could see their teeth.
@12, I just clicked in to say the same thing about 29-30. There's got to be quite the story going on there.
It looks like their skulls were taken out of their bodies, run through a rock tumbler, and then replaced.
Perhaps @8, but what's even worse is that, because nobody does meth anymore, these "old as the webs" photos have become completely irrelevant nowadays.
@15 Seandr, your comment (which I agree with wholeheartedly) is why I'm going to finally seek out cosmetic dentistry/orthodontistry. I've learned to live with the gaps in my teeth, but overhearing someone else pointing out a "methmouth" in a crowd finally forced the issue for me. I have seen what meth does to teeth, and mine are not rotted at all! If you really love your teeth and your life, stay the heck away from meth!
Considering the rampant drug abuse in my family, I shouldn't find these as funny as I do, but after years of exposure to addicts, I don't feel compassion for them anymore. 29-30 wins the gold star of the day. My roommate nearly convulsed off of his bed when I showed him.
Meth apparently took the black right out of 11.
Meth rots the teeth, and when they are gone the shape of the face changes. Also as you loose weight, you lose fat tissue on the face, which makes you look different.
Marijuana: gateway drug?
@9: I can never un-read your comment, but I dearly, dearly wish I could.
Meh. Couple just look older. Couple just got a few scabs that look like they'll heal. Couple look faked. And for a couple, it's actually an improvement. Not scarin me.
oh COMTE how i wish that were true ~ don't be thinking that the habit ain't alive and well, because it is. maybe just more in some places than others. i have no idea what the seattle meth "scene" looks like or if it even still exists, but i can attest to the fact that the addiction is still rampant.
Not to be "look-ist" but I'm going to agree that most of these folks didn't exactly look like winners in their Before pictures either.
Only reasons I need not to smoke meth is good strong tea and coffee do an adequate enough job keeping me up when I need to stay up and pot's a better cheaper high.
OK, 29/30 is pretty nasty, but I think most of that is the "bride of frankenstein" thing she's got going with her hair. I'm more impressed with 15/16. 15 actually looks good, for all of you "they already look like shit" people, but 16 is just incredibly nasty. Not much skin left on that face.
Seattle Counseling Services has some pretty cool programs relating to meth. One in particular that has just started up is specifically for women.
Oh for fuck sake. I know Slog is all anti-meth because it's associated with HIV transmission, but this whole thing is a bullshit scare campaign and I would basically expect folks at the Stranger to know better.

Methamphetamine is basically a pretty good drug on its own merits. It keeps you awake and alert, makes sex better, has a relatively easy come-down, is not physically addictive (like, say, alcohol) and and has relatively few side effects.

The problem is that there are grades of meth, from pure crystal (ice) to shitty yellow crank, and the manufacturing methods that produce pure crystal have become pretty much impossible thanks to advances in law enforcement techniques that have cut off access to the raw materials for making good meth -- notably ephedrine (which is a form of mild speed in it's own right; used to be called cross-tops, and was available for practically nothing) and phenylacetone, which is also known as P2P (and was extremely expensive even before the crackdown).

These days the more common components of meth are pseudafed (pseudo-ephedrine) and red phosphorous. This produces a substandard form of methamphetamine to begin with but, in addition to the basic inferiority of the product for use as a stimulant, the most common source of red phosphorous for this process is road flares. The phosphorous you get from road flares is loaded with impurities (because it's industrial grade, not reagent grade), including heavy metals.

The heavy metals are what cause the lesions, the gray teeth, and the gray/yellow color in the eyes. The metals work their way out of the speed freak's system through the sweat glands, and cause abscesses when they break the skin. They leach calcium out of teeth and bones. They make you nauseous, they cause cancer and they can also cause neurological damage that drives you nuts (mercury is a heavy metal -- used to be used to make hats; cf "the Mad Hatter").

The reason most -- or many -- people start taking any kind of speed is because they're working a shitty manual labor or service job that doesn't pay enough to live on. So people take cheap stimulants in order to work more hours. This is also why it's considered a white trash drug; truckers, assembly-line workers, and fry cooks often use meth because it keeps you awake and alert, but doesn't mess with your perceptions the way a lot of narcotics do. This combination of factors is extremely important if you're doing something for 80 hours a week, where making a mistake can kill or maim you.

The thing about meth bugs, and the smell, and a lot of the other issues that are associated with meth are generally byproducts of sleep deprivation; extreme sleep deprivation causes a backup of toxins in your system. Even someone who has taken no drugs at all will start to smell like ammonia after about 40 hours without sleep. Throw in a low-grade case of heavy metals poisoning, it gets worse. The toxins (particularly the metals) can cause neuropathy that leads to tingling in the skin (meth bugs). Additionally, the lack of sleep causes mental problems -- paranoia, mood swings, etc.

The place where a lot of people go wrong -- besides taking cheap crank in the first place -- is that meth does not make it so you don't need to sleep. It makes it so you can put sleep off. But if you stay up for 48 hours, you're going to need to sleep for at least 16. Most people who use meth either don't want to take that kind of down time, or they can't afford it. They get a couple of hours between shifts, and they have to go back to work. Or if they do get more than 20 hours in a row off, they want to spend it having some fun, so they take another hit and head to the bar. The harder the push themselves, the more irrational and neurotic they get, the worse choices they make. They keep pushing themselves for days or weeks -- or years -- at a go, and their bodies start to break down.

And that's where the photographs come in.

But the drug itself, as a drug, is basically harmless in its pure form and can be useful under certain circumstances.

I can't get over how miserable they all look in their "before" pictures. I guess they were all mug shots so they're all pics of people who just got arrested, so they're all "oh man, I really fucked up;" but it looks deeper than that -- these people were really suffering. (Except 13/14 who just looks like a psychotic asshole before and a psychotic meth-using asshole after.)
Um-- Judah @ 31 -- got any citations from real medical journals for any of that? I can kinda go with you on the heavy metal poisoning idea, but the general "toxins" shit is just too vague to credit.

On the other hand, "meth mouth" is real. See… for a round-up of the research. Look for xerostomia (dry mouth) caused by the anticholinergic properties of meth. This stuff is also associated with legal speed like ritalin and other ADHD meds.

In short, this is nasty shit. It does have negative effects. Hoping that people don't use it and showing potential users what has happened to known users doesn't make bad/stupid people. Just realists.
@19 - Funny, I've always had a sizable gap between my two upper front teeth, although no one ever mistook me for a methhead. I should see about getting it fixed - I definitely smile less because of it.

Yes, because I'm being paid by the meth lobby to look things up for you on the many credible medical journals which are available on-line, for free.
@31, sarcasm and unsubstantiated vague statements. Fuck it! Pass me the ice.

Yes, because I actually told you to run right out and do drugs. Indeed, rather than simply trying to pass on information based on experience to people who were asking questions, my poorly conceal agenda here is to turn all Slog readers into screaming drug fiends.

And, of course, everyone knows you can't trust someone who employs irony.
Is there something about having beady eyes and an abnormally small head that makes you more prone to being hooked on meth?
@31 - fascinating, but the shit is still scary, cuz white over-educated boys like me used to like it too much to let us keep talking. Maybe not physically addictive, but as you point out, something of a vicious-cycle of need and want addictive.
If I want to go as a meth addict for Halloween, how far in advance do I need to start smoking?
While the problems of meth users are interesting and all, I was looking around the website this story links to and couldn't believe the story about the Seattle mother who watched as a piece of shit ran a red light and hit her husband's car, killing their 3 month old son. The fucker who hits them fled on foot, but was thankfully captured. (Don't live in Seattle so maybe this story has been all over the news there.)…
Judah @31: What is the point of arguing that methamphetamine "is basically harmless in its pure form" when the toxic crap being peddled on the street is doing so much damage? This "bullshit scare campaign" you're talking about saves people's lives. I don't really get what you're so angry about. Do you really think that "law enforcement techniques" are entirely to blame here? And, yes, I would appreciate stats to back up the idea that meth damage seriously escalated because of that. You've got to clarify, because as it stands, your argument is just not convincing. It sounds--sounds--like you're pissed because a drug you like to take and/or make and sell has been stigmatized. I'm not assuming that's true, but you did say "based on experience", so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

In point of fact, I've never used, manufactured, or sold meth. My father was a drug dealer and a speed user, and we knew a lot of dealers and users, and one or two chemists. That was all 20 years ago, so meth was kind of a different game back then, but as a point of historical and technical reference it's still valid.

The reason I'm annoyed about the bullshit scare campaign is that the Stranger staff talk eight kinds of shit about government PR campaigns that vilify drugs (particularly drugs they like, like pot) for "destroying people's lives" without respect to the mechanism involved. Then they turn around and hop on the anti-meth bandwagon because that particular bandwagon is associated with gay men's health.

Meth's a bad drug because they're all bad drugs. But very few drugs can legitimately be said to actually destroy an otherwise healthy person all on their own. At the level of what they actually do most drugs are basically time-wasters; with meth, like most other drugs, it's not the drug that fucks someone up. Those people are usually already fucked up, and the drug is just what they're using to finish the job. I mean, that before and after slide show is before and after mug shots. Does someone really need to point out that those are just two points on a continuum of self-destruction that could just as easily have been achieved with alcohol, or coke or smack or painkillers or pot or cough syrup or...?

The Stranger staff defend all kinds of things (that they like to do) on the principle that adults can make their own decisions. But when someone plays the right tune (evil club drug that kills gay men (instead of suburban teenagers)) they're as credulous as any suburban soccer mom. And that's what pissed me off.
Also, I'm working on something that's incredibly boring and time-consuming, and will take me at least 14 hours a day for the next five days to finish, so I'm taking breaks to pick fights on slog because it's one of the few diverting things one can do in 10 minutes while sitting at a computer at midnight (insert rote masturbation joke here).
Judah-- I really appreciate your commentary here. I've spent a few years living in a decently meth-riddled small town and sometimes doing medical work... I've seen far worst health, crime, dishonesty from tweakers than from potheads or even alcoholics so I generally think of it as pretty much the Worst Drug Ever. Generally I've thought of as just having to do with poor, desperate addictive lifestyles (meth is cheap, etc) but I've never really had the gaps filled in so easily or articulately as you just did. Thanks for educating this EMT-- I'll be a better caregiver because of it. Good luck on your boring/time consuming work; that blows I've totally been there.
@21 That dude's not black, genius. He's a white guy with a tan.
Also, @35, searching "methamphetamine" on pubmed (of course you're familiar with pubmed, since you're an authority on issues neurological, right? Right?) gives 7174 hits, of which the vast majority have at least abstracts and 916 have free full text.

As to "look things up for you", you make claims, you get to look up support for them. It's not anyone else's job to do it for you. Don't do it, don't whine if nobody believes you.

Excellent points. Although anyone who is on here enough knows the staff's stance on legalization of marijuana, I don't ever recall seeing any opinion on UNIVERSAL legalization of substances (or how, if universal legalization is not supported, we can differentiate between "good" and "bad" drugs). Although most everyone agrees that marijuana has many valid medicinal qualities, are we willing to take the government's word that every other schedule one substance cannot (potentially) be used responsibly by a conscienscious user?
Judah @43: Thanks for explaining -- it makes sense to me now. I don't agree that all drugs are the same (which is not exactly what you said), but I definitely see what you mean about the inconsistent reporting. I kind of share some of the Stranger's biases, so I don't always recognize them as such right away.

As for @44, boy can I relate! That is my life right now, too.

You should maybe learn to recognize the difference between someone caring if you believe them and someone telling you to go fuck yourself because you just called them a liar. I'm not making any claim except what I saw and heard a long time ago. I don't care enough about whether you believe any of it to spend all night Googling shit some redneck friend of my dad's said over a spliff in a trailer in Oregon during the Reagan years. Don't believe the information? Cool. But when you go out of your way to be a dick about it, that's where I invite you to go fuck yourself.

See how that works?
I didn't call you a liar. Someone asked you to support your claims; you whined about it; I observed that a) it wouldn't be very fucking hard and b) it's your job, not theirs.

You're this worked up (one might even say "going out of your way to be a dick about it") about "shit some redneck friend of my dad's said over a spliff in a trailer in Oregon during the Reagan years"? Seriously? You need a fucking hobby. Or therapy.

Go fuck yourself. And goodnight.
#4 is way cuter than #3 (sorry, chubby-chaser). lets just put all fat americans on a meth diet: obesity problem solved!

No, someone asked me if I could cite from a medical journal to verify a bunch of stuff I learned growing up. And I didn't whine about it -- I mocked them.

You observed that a) you found some stuff at one source (and gave me some shit about being a medical expert of some kind) and b) declared it my "job" to link to cites for any factual statement I make on the internet.

I proceeded to tell you to eat shit and die, based on your crack about the general medical expertise I never claimed to have.

And I believe I was fairly clear that I'm only doing this right now because I'm doing something else that's incredibly time-consuming and boring. Which is why I'm typing a response to your stupid ass at two-thirty in the morning instead of being home, in bed, asleep.

And as far as the trailer in Oregon comment -- that was a rhetorical scenario meant to illustrate the kinds of places I came by the information I relayed in my initial post, not a reference to an actual event that provided me with all my information. Which I think was basically obvious, but whatever.

You're an idiot. Thanks for distracting me from this other bullshit I'm doing. Now if there are just three or four more like you lurking around the internets I may have enough live targets to keep me entertained until I'm done with this shit for the night.
I live in college town and have lots of med student and law student friends, and they all take adderall. It's easy to get here, and it's more socially acceptable than meth, and it's pharmaceutical quality, but other than that I don't see much difference. It's like a junkie being hooked on oxycontin or morphine and saying, "at least I'm not a heroin addict!"
A couple of those guys and at least one of the girls are way hotter in the "after" shots. Good bone structure.
Unless you willing provide a list of references for your kinda far out claims we will not believe you. It's your job to prove your claims are correct, not my job to verify. While they are interesting I don't have time to chase your references so I will not take them at face value. Instead of just giving up your sources you throw a hissy fit and accuse everyone of waving a pot=good meth=bad double standard. This lends me to think you are full of it and have an axe to grind. So references of GTFO.

Also, 31/32 crack me up for some reason. It's the same expression just with crazy hair
I just have to think that Judah is a complete funking moron because he is trying to defend a drug that is destroying lives, families and communities. Maybe next he can tell us how Hitler liked dogs or something.
@31 Bullshit. Written like a true addict.... or dealer.

Pharmacology doesn't lie.
@57-disqualified from the discussion
per regulation #1: any participant in an argument who conjures Hitler as an example is disqualified from the discussion
You're just NOW discovering this? Hey, didja see the one where the Superheroes say WAZZ-UP, like in that Budweiser commercial?
I thought Hitler did like dogs, it was Jews he wasn't so fond of.

And Meth=bad. Period. It rots your teeth (eww), it fucks up your skin (in a round-about way...and ewww!), and it makes you a neurotic fuck-tard (ewwwwww!!!!!).
This is what happens when people are unable to do their drugs in moderation.

Damn! I'd already gone to bed by the time you posted that. If you'd come along about 30 minutes earlier I could've spent some time smacking you around before wrapping up for the night.

As to my "far out" claims, -- whatever. Google "methamphetamine" and "heavy metals". Nothing I said is actually all that arcane.

You know, when I was a kid, there used to be anti-drug PSAs claiming that pot made guys grow tits. Go with god, dude.
I wonder if the picture of the last guy doesn't reveal a possible benefit of meth. He seems to have re-grown a substantial amount of hair. I think finasteride (Propecia) was another drug that was accidentally found to re-grow hair. Perhaps meth is a new treatment for male pattern baldness.
@3 This article may have some information in it that helps answer your questions:…
There are rules?? Who knew! How about Stalin? Makes Hitler look like Snow White!
@ 56, Judah, good to see someone think through a drug issue. I dig it. But, uhh, what's up with your website? Sorta sparse.
All drugs have risks. All drugs have benefits or people wouldn't use them. The vast majority of meth users are non-addicted, recreational users, like with all drugs. There are serious risks to meth *abuse*, such as mental health issues, parkinson's disease, skin problems, and tooth decay. Most of these risks *can* be properly managed by recreational, moderate users. I know dozens of people who have used crystal meth, and only a handful who have had serious addiction issues. Most of those people had addiction issues with other drugs as well.

There are no good or bad drugs, there are good and bad *relationships* with drugs. Some drugs are harder to maintain a good relationship with than others.

YMMV, IANAD, etc, etc, etc.

Judah, your posts here are awesome and on the mark. Thanks!
As a regular user of crystal meth, I noticed that the only time I've ever felt any of the creepy symptoms so often mentioned in the media is when I haven't slept. Lack of sleep coupled with lack of proper hydration makes your mouth dry (dry mouth caused by anything will eventually lead to gum disease since the gums tend to recede when there's not enough saliva). Paranoia and disorientation sets in to anyone when they are deprived of sleep for a long enough time (Mythbusters did a great episode on this). And the bad skin or itchy feeling also tends to come from lack of moisture. Someone pointed out that bad circulation, which meth directly causes temporarily while it's in your system, also contributes to overall poor skin tone and irritation. Your body needs freshly circulating fluids to function properly.

Most physical problems associated with long-term meth use are due to a combination of toxins remaining from improperly processed methamphetamine and general physical neglect, which happens (the neglect part) to anyone who spends their life chasing a high at the expense of maintaining normal personal habits. Of course it's not good for you like a bowl of antioxidant-rich blueberries, but it's basically a combination of toxic chemicals which CAN be processed to yield a non-toxic substance. This is admittedly a huge oversimplification, but think of it in terms of chemical compounts like table salt, which is also comprised of some toxic base elements but yields an edible substance. In small quantitites, salt is good for the body, but taken to the extreme, even salt can kill you. Meth is obviously much more potent. But if you're armed with proper knowledge you can drastically minimize the negative effects. Any hard drug has the potential for addiction. If you're going to do it anyway, learn as much as you can about what you're putting into your body (e.g. how to identify toxic cut components), and be conscious about having a support network and self checks to prevent yourself from getting too caught up in all of it. I'd still rather have a milkshake if I'm choosing one or the other. Just remember, not all of us are tweekers from the "Faces of Meth" pages, and people make wrong assumptions about users and non-drug users alike every single day.
Judah, who are you and how do I learn more about someone like you unafraid to speak their mind and say something other than how bad meth is and how crazy the folks on it are. I have used meth for a period of time in my life and the drug is definitely not one I would suggest someone pick up if they haven't already! It's Not good for you to say the least, it will very likely fuck up your whole world at least for a little bit if you get caught with the shit or get charged with any meth related drug-charge (I know), and being a meth user basically means you're signing up to become a social pariah in the public eye. None of these things are things you want to go through If you don't have to! But the drug and the people on it are misunderstood and are the social stigma and all around reputation it and it's users have has got to change in order to help the methhaddict suffering from an addiction to a drug that makes them deemed lost causes in the public eye.
Judah, who are you and how do I learn more about someone like you--unafraid to speak their mind and say something other than how bad meth is and how crazy the folks on it are. I have used meth for a period of time in my life and the drug is definitely not one I would suggest someone pick up if they haven't already! It's Not good for you to say the least, it will very likely fuck up your whole world at least for a little bit if you get caught with the shit or get charged with any meth related drug-charge (I know), and being a meth user basically means you're signing up to become a social pariah in the public eye. None of these things are things you want to go through If you don't have to! But the drug and the people on it are misunderstood and are the social stigma and all around reputation it and it's users have has got to change in order to help the meth addict suffering from an addiction to a drug that makes them deemed lost causes in the public eye.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.