Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Biological explanation for accelerated aging of amphetamine victims?

  1. Jun 19, 2007 #1
    I was seeing a documentary on amphetamines the other day and I was looking for a biological explanation for the accelerated aging that was apparent in the drug victims' faces.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_meth#Effects

    It doesn't list my observation on Wikipedia...
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2007 #2

    they just stop caring for themselves...brushing teeth..taking baths..etc..and their immune system starts to weaken so they get all sorts of maladies...that's my point of view idk if it's right but it sounds logical
     
  4. Jun 19, 2007 #3

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I would agree that it's a result of poor hygiene, health and nutrition. Though, the tooth loss is not just from lack of hygiene; meth directly destroys the enamel of the teeth. I don't have any sources for that, just remember seeing a documentary that interviewed a dentist for prisoners, and that's what they described. I think meth was slightly acidic, but I could be wrong about that.

    Of course, once one loses their teeth, their lips have that sunken-in look that makes one's entire face appear old since we usually associate toothlessness with aging.

    A complicating factor is that meth addicts are rarely ONLY abusing meth, so it's also hard to identify which of their symptoms are due to the meth, which are due to other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and which are due to general hygiene issues.

    Of course, if you're looking for a deeper, mechanistic answer, such as how the process of aging actually happens that wrinkles or such occur with any of these conditions, I don't have that answer.
     
  5. Jun 19, 2007 #4

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Enamel degradation is common in meth users - it is called meth mouth. I don't know the direct cause, but it is a big red flag for quickly identifying meth users.

    According to some folks working in the drug area, longterm meth users really do look old beyond their years, and just as Moonbear says, they indicate it is related to awful personal habits and associated addictive behaviors as well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2007
  6. Jun 19, 2007 #5

    True:wink:
     
  7. Jun 19, 2007 #6

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2007
  8. Jun 21, 2007 #7

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Thanks jim. While I'm never sure which I trust less, the popular media or Wikipedia, that article states that the media reports that meth is acidic and erodes teeth because of it is wrong. Considering my comment on that was from my recall of something on TV, I guess there's reason to doubt that. Leaves me wondering, now, if that's just urban legend (meth being acidic), an unconventional view promoted by just a few dentists who managed to get on TV to push their view, or a legitimate alternative hypothesis that the Wiki contributors disagree with. :uhh: Anyone inclined to search through dentistry literature?
     
  9. Jun 21, 2007 #8

    chemisttree

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

  10. Jun 22, 2007 #9
    Meth is absolute poison. It's horrible seeing an old friend after only a few months of using it. Everything about them dies, not only physically. I know I've expressed before my somewhat unorthodox views on responsible use of certain drugs, but meth is a filthy poison.
    Within weeks of starting to use the person becomes someone completely different. It's scary that it's becoming such a popular drug.

    I thought I'd comment that meth is sometimes added to E, another horrid fad. Ironically not for the MDMA—what E is supposed to be (which can be pretty bad alone)—but for all the crap that is added to the pills. E is a concentrated mixture of whatever crap the dealer could find and can contain anything from heroine to coke or meth. and I doubt manufacturers of E care at all what drug mixtures could cause what effect.

    I say this because I know E is very popular, unlike meth, even among university students. PLEASE stay away. Not only are people on E incredibly annoying, but you never know what's in it. I've seen people take 4 at once and come out fine, and I've seen someone go into seizures from half a pill. It's like playing russian roulette.

    Sorry for my strong emotions, but a lot of people don't know this about E.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2007
  11. Jun 25, 2007 #10
    meth does the same thing as caffiene but with durastically worse effects, e.g. they stay up for weeks and sleep for days, act hyper all the time, paranoia, hallucinations,ect.
     
  12. Jun 25, 2007 #11
    that sounds EXACTLY like coffee. I always peel my skin compulsively and have heated arguments with hallucinated voices after a good cup of java... crystal meth is more than just an upper; it's more than a hallucinogen; it can cause severe psychosis and brain damage.

    I drink anywhere from 3-5 cups of tea/coffee a day, I doubt I'm at risk of brain damage, psychosis, or violent/self-harming behavior.
     
  13. Aug 9, 2007 #12
    My impression is that the "meth mouth" phenomena is probably due to poor hygiene, xerostomia from the sympathomimetic effects of the drug, and that when the drug is vaporized (smoked) it sublimes to the freebase + HCl, and the gaseous HCl does a lot of damage to the enamel.
    Another theory I've heard is oxidative stress from overabundance of extracellular monoamines, but my gut feeling is that this is a relatively minor factor.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Biological explanation for accelerated aging of amphetamine victims?
  1. Age Extension (Replies: 0)

Loading...