Why are many drug addict faces so bad looking?

But it could be a reason for depression and could lead to self medication.

Who knows? I know some homely folks who are straight arrows.
I suppose all those great looking Hollywood stars who are going into drug rehab don’t count.

I’ve seen newcomers who look like they’ve been through the wringer several times, and I’ve seen newcomers who look like they’re ready to go into the office. I think the latter tend to have stronger support networks and economic means (for the moment).

That said, both cohorts are desperate and hopeless when they walk through the door…you can’t go by appearances…

You work in the rehab industry? I bet there’s some amazing stories of both triumph and tragedy and failure there.

Do you know what the phrase “confirmation bias” means?

Does it depend on the drug used?

Will coke addicts look different than meth addicts?

I have seen some documentaries (here’s one) on fentanyl addiction and those people are truly fucked up. They will not be the person you think is normal but a secret addict. They are overtly obvious addicts. Their lives are smashed and ruined and it is obvious to everyone that knows them.

FWIW, my sense is that this phenomenon is more closely correlated with socioeconomic and isolation conditions than most other factors.

As mentioned elsewhere in this discussion, it’s harder to stay healthy when you’re poor and have a poor support net. And addiction often causes both poverty and a loss of supportive friends and family.

Sweetheart, that is so beyond NOT what the term “confirmation bias” means.

No doubt.

But IMO the topic of the thread is mostly about whether or not people who do not know the addict would recognize their addicted status just by looking at them casually. E.g. someone you see in line at the grocery store or standing at the bus stop. Or walking through the parking lot at your place of work.


Separately to the above …
There is of course a transition period. Somebody starts as a recreational user. Or starts as a legit medical patient that transitions to recreational user. Then transitions to a must-user, the canonical definition of “addict”. Then their life and/or health falls apart either quickly or slowly depending on individual details. Maybe they rehab, maybe they are imprisoned, maybe they die.

On this mostly one-way trip there are always fresh recruits at each stage of the pipeline. So some “addicts” just became one yesterday. Others will die of self-neglect and self-abuse tomorrow. How obvious any given one is certainly depends on their spot in the pipeline when you observe them.

Woah, woah. OP here. Confirmation bias is not the issue. The fact is that some addicts display disfiguring facial sores. I just wondered what caused them.Can the drugs by themselves cause the lesions? Is it a combined effect aggravated by poor diet mentioned by several posters? I don’t know.

I remember seeing photos of the Radioactive Boy Scoot in later life and he looked like this. I immediately thought he had radiation poisoning after all but it was said to be a drug habit.

Hon, That’s exactly what I am. It’s my belief they look like they do because of what they do.

I interpreted this by what I see. I know a drug addict when I see one.
If I get a couple wrong, say they had a bad night coming off 6 weeks of cancer treatments and the hair and skin ain’t looking so hot, I’m sorry. It’s not like I’m gonna accost them on the sidewalk about it. I’ll make my biased judgement silently, to myself, in my head and move on. I’m pretty sure they or a drug addict cares very little what I think.

The lesions aren’t caused by the drugs themselves. They pick at their skin and their hair; this is especially true with meth.

Functioning addicts do a fair job of balancing their need to use along with the desire to appear normal. As the addiction progresses the urge to appear normal takes a backseat and they neglect their appearance more & more.

On the OP topic, meth is an amphetamine (obviously). Amphetamines, including meth, and also including legit prescription drugs like Adderall, can increase anxiety, and can also increase compulsive behaviors. In addition, meth is detectable in sweat, and also people on meth sometimes have skin-crawling sensations and relatedly, delusions of being able to feel mites under their skin.

So, a person could start out having meth increase an existing anxious picking habit or a compulsion. Possibly the skin could have a reaction to the drug oozing out of their pores, and bad nutrition and/or hygiene could contribute. The habitual or compulsive picking could get worse both in response to the greater amount of blemishes to pick at, and also the other listed factors. There’s also a connection as I understand it between long term meth use and greatly lowered inhibitions. So it may be that people who are inclined to pick stop trying to not do it.

As to the association of facial sores with meth use – some people have given counter examples in terms of meth users who don’t have them. I’ll also provide a different kind of counter example.

I am more than three decades past my acne-prone years. But, I am taking a medication that has moderate to severe acne as a side effect, and that’s what I now have. I am working out how to control the acne, but in the mean time, I have various blemishes and sores on my face, including some pretty nasty looking cystic ones. I don’t leave them alone because I have an anxious picking habit, and because sometimes the cystic ones hurt so bad that I feel I have to relieve the pressure.

I’ve wondered if anyone who doesn’t know me well (or, I don’t know, maybe even some who do) think I’m using meth. My sleep is also pretty much always messed up, so that’s another piece.

Don’t assume that people who “look like meth users” are. (Not directed at OP.)

Yes. Some drugs (not all) will cause lesions and possibly lead to amputations. Depends on the drug though and how it is used. Can it happen? Yes.

Problem is people do assume things about others.
We all do it.
I imagine people assume way more than I want about me.
It’s hard to look a certain way knowing the world sees it too.
If you’re working on it,or like me, done all you can and have to live with it. You gotta know it’s ok.

It’s a human thing to see a person laying in the gutter and assume they’re a drunk bum. We don’t know they are. But we make the judgement.
We see someone with facial sores, heroin hair and bad teeth it’s 2 +2=4.

It’s human. We’re a horrible biased people.

Because my personal beliefs and judgement makes these assumptions doesn’t mean I have less sympathy for their plight.

Okay, but that’s still not what “confirmation bias” means.

It doesn’t mean “biased” the way you are using the word. Like, not at all.

Only as an amateur…and it’s all, ahem, anonymous. :wink:

But, yes, there are are stories of triumph and horrible heartbreak, for sure.

My understanding of “confirmation bias” is with out facts or evidence you make a judgement based on your beliefs.
That’s exactly what I do if I see someone with sores and bad teeth. I think they are a meth-head.
I’m not proud of it. But I do it. Just like everybody else.

Not exactly. It’s when you only see the examples of something that confirm what you already believe to be true, and your brain discounts the examples that go against your belief. We all do it.

In this case, it would be your brain noticing that drug users usually look messed up, but ignoring the instances of drug users who didn’t look messed up. It’s like a mental blind spot.

It doesn’t have to be about stereotypes, either. A lot of therapists believe they’re helping most of their clients because their brain remembers the ones they did help and ignores the rest. That’s confirmation bias.

This thread reminds of some of my experience where some have assumed there was something wrong because I wasn’t always coiffed like others. I’d think about people I admire who’ve looked flawed yet been worthy in other ways. Offhand I think of uhmm Catherine the Great or Elizabeth I. They apparently were covered in smallpox scars yet perhaps decent people. Or I think of this current govt official in the USA who they say perpetually reeks of stale BO, yet the person is an expert at the Treasury Dept.

Back to the OPs question, they look bad because they’re addicts.

If you abuse yourself continuously even the best looking addict will look bad, eventually.