You are probably already aware that drugs, in general, can take their toll on your physical appearance. Drugs like alcohol, nicotine, and crystal meth are known offenders. But did you know that cocaine also leaves its users with characteristically disfigured features? The faces of cocaine users are at the very least drawn and bloated but can be grotesquely changed by heavy cocaine use.
Faces of Cocaine: Nose
When cocaine powder is insufflated, or snorted, it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream but, it also causes the blood vessels in the lining of the nose passages to shrink. Shortly after use, the blood vessels widen again, and the tell-tale sign of a cokehead: red, runny stuffed-up nose becomes evident.
After repeated and prolonged use, cocaine causes a loss of blood supply to the septum, which is the thin dividing wall between your nostrils. This becomes damaged, causing an erosion of the septum that can leave a gaping hole between the two nose passages. Since the septum acts as a sort of load-bearing beam, such as in a building’s foundation; when this goes, the bridge of the nose can collapse. This is not a pretty site and leaves the faces of cocaine users with a “smushed-in” look.
Faces of Cocaine: Skin
Cocaine, like other amphetamines, has the ability to cause hallucinations and psychosis. One typical experience of heavy coke users is the feeling of bugs, called ‘cocaine bugs’ or ‘snow bugs,’ crawling under their skin. Some users describe the sensation of cocaine bugs as biting, burning or itching, and will in turn scratch and pick at their skin until it bleeds. Because of this, some coke users’ faces have sores, scratches, and scars.
Faces of Cocaine: Weight loss
Like other amphetamines, cocaine suppresses your appetite and, after extended use, cocaine abusers will experience rather rapid weight loss and this shows up in the faces of cocaine users who are typically emaciated-looking and pale.
Faces of Cocaine: Coke Bloat
The infamous coke bloat…the best way to describe this is really just to tell you to google images for “Kate Moss.” Throughout the years, her face has undergone many a transformation – and we’re not talking about the usual celebrity plastic surgery. No, Kate Moss’ face has been dealt a brutal blow from well, blow. Other than the obvious accelerated signs of aging, Moss’ face has taken on the uneven puffiness that is characteristic of faces of cocaine addicts.
In addition, there’s this: the cases linked to what became known as flesh-eating cocaine. Batches of coke were cut with the drug levamisole, which is used in veterinary medicine. This is noteworthy because, the levamisole-contaminated cocaine is so widespread that is has been found to be in the cocaine supply of the entire United States.
Patients have been showing up with patches of dying flesh on their faces and ears and this has been linked to the tainted cocaine. The wounds typically surface a day after exposure due to an immune reaction that damages blood vessels supplying the skin. Without any blood supply, the skin is starved of oxygen, turns a dark purple, and dies off. The faces of cocaine users who were exposed to levamisole are marred by disfiguring wounds and scars from large sections of skin dying off.