The striking impact of getting clean shows on this woman’s face. (Photo: Reddit)
Two photos, two years apart, one dramatic change. A woman’s recent Reddit post is underlining the very real effects of substance abuse on the skin, along with how sobriety can drastically improve one’s complexion.
According to the woman with username DisregardThisOrDont, her problems arose out of an abusive relationship. She landed in jail for 36 days due to a contempt-of-court charge, and her daughter was subsequently sent to live with her grandmother. “She is my whole world, so when that happened I fell into a deep depression and leaned to my abusive boyfriend for emotional support,” she writes. “His answer to making me feel better was heroin.”
After using the drug for eight months, she asked the judge responsible for her daughter’s guardianship case to help her get clean. After spending some time in county jail waiting for a spot to open in the state’s best rehabilitation program, she transferred into the facility to work on her sobriety. “Recovery has been an uphill battle, but now I am at a point where it all just feels like a bad dream,” she explains.
While her story is revealing, the woman’s two photos paint an even more vivid picture. Taken 826 days apart, the photos clearly show that her skin has dramatically improved since she’s been in recovery. So, what might be happening here?
According to dermatologist Hooman Khorasani, MD, Chief of the Division of Dermatologic and Cosmetic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, this woman’s changing appearance isn’t at all unusual. “Drug and alcohol abuse can have skin manifestations with underlying nutritional, infectious, and neurological factors,” he tells Yahoo Beauty.
From a nutritional standpoint, a common issue associated with substance abuse is often “malnutrition with associated vitamin and protein deficiency,” which takes a toll on your skin, says Khorasani. “For instance, vitamin A deficiency can cause severe dryness of your skin, and thiamine deficiency can make your skin look waxy and swollen,” he says. “A B-2 deficiency can cause a rash in the face, and a B-3 deficiency can cause cracking of the corners of the mouth and tongue. Zinc deficiency can cause hair loss and skin rashes.”
Those who abuse drugs and alcohol are also frequently in an immunocompromised state. “They can develop multiple skin infections and infestations, like staph infections and scabies infestation to just name a couple,” Khorasani says. “These will often present with skin nodules, scabs, or even abscesses.”
Neurological problems can also develop with the use of particularly potent drugs, which may ultimately lead to skin issues. “Itching is another common issue, particularly with cocaine and methamphetamine use,” Khorasani says. “Delusions of parasitosis, or the feeling of bugs crawling on the skin may prompt users to scratch their skin off, and, in turn, cause ulcers.”
This is a huge reminder from the Reddit-sphere that what you put in your body has countless manifestations — something DisregardThisOrDont wanted to show everyone. Major props for getting help and heading down the road to recovery.
She hardly recognizes that girl in the mugshot anymore. “I wanted to hug her and tell her it will get better,” she writes. “I then realized that girl is still out there somewhere. She isn’t me anymore though. There are other addicts out there who are in the same circle of hell that I was in in that mug shot. So even if one of those people see this and get their s*** together, then it was worth it.”