Meth Mouth and Crank Bugs
Methamphetamine, also known as Chalk, Crank, Croak, Crypto, Crystal, Fire, Glass, Meth, Tweek, or White Cross, is a central nervous system stimulant. It increases energy, awareness, and alertness. In high doses, it causes a feeling of euphoria. Methamphetamine can be prescribed by a doctor, but this is rare, as its medical uses are limited. Most “street meth” is chemically concocted in small, illegal laboratories.
Meth is a crystalline, white, odorless powder. It dissolves easily in water. Meth can be taken orally, snorted, smoked or injected.
Meth acts on dopamine receptors in the brain. It stimulates the receptor to release a rush of dopamine which stimulates brain cells, increasing mood and energy. Dopamine is closely related to the reward centers in the brain, which is why meth use has such a high incidence of dependence and addiction. Methamphetamine has also been shown to have a neurotoxic effect on dopamine neurons over time, inducing Parkinson’s-like symptoms in long term users.
Meth Mouth and Crank Bugs: What are they?
Long term users often notice a quick degeneration of their teeth. This condition is known as “meth mouth.” Experts believe that this condition is caused by a combination of “dry mouth” caused by the drug, poor oral hygiene, and grinding of teeth often observed in meth addicts. The dry mouth reduces the amount of protective saliva around the teeth. Most meth users don’t brush or floss regularly, and meth, a stimulant, causes users to grind and clench the teeth. Meth mouth is further exacerbated when meth users drink a lot of sugary soda, which the drug sometimes causes them to crave. The teeth of a meth user eventually get so rotted, they can fall out.
“Crank Bugs” are when a meth user hallucinates that they have insects crawling on them. It is common for a meth user to scratch and pick the skin trying to get rid of these imaginary crank bugs. As a result, the skin becomes pocked or scarred.
Meth causes a rush of blood to the skin and a rise in body temp which results in sweating. The sweat causes even more blood to rush to the skin, which then causes the sweat to evaporate, taking the skin’s natural protective oil with it. The combination of these create a sensation on the nerve endings on the skin, which can feel like something is crawling on the skin (crank bugs). The scientific term for crank bugs is “Delusional Parasitosis.”
Meth mouth and crank bugs are part of what causes the swift deterioration in appearance in meth users. Often, you can see the results in just a few weeks or months of using the drug. Meth mouth and crank bugs cause the teeth to look rotted and black and the skin to be scarred. Often, the scratching and itching of the skin causes infection, which produce even bigger scars. Also, meth users often experience a decrease in sleep and appetite, which can contribute to the devastating effects of meth on personal appearance.
Find out more about Meth at The Meth Project.