Using illegal drugs can lead to a variety of severe health problems, including anxiety, liver and heart disease, kidney damage, and respiratory problems. Hair loss is a less commonly talked about side effect of drug abuse.
Drug abuse can cause a condition called alopecia. Alopecia is characterized by thinning hair all over the scalp. It is typically caused by damaged hair follicles. It’s important to know, that not everyone who abuses drugs will experience hair loss, and not all drugs cause your hair to fall out. However, let’s take a look at the illegal drugs that cause hair loss, and how to treat it.
At Discovery Institute in Marlboro, New Jersey, we provide treatment and resources necessary to help people suffering from drug abuse recover and maintain long-term sobriety.
Drug Abuse And Hair Loss
Illegal drugs cause structural damage and interfere with natural hair growth. It occurs when hair follicles are shifted into the rest phase. The rest phase is part of the hair growth cycle.
There are three main stages of hair growth:
- Anagen phase – In this stage, your hair continues to grow.
- Catagen phase – This is the resting phase. Hair growth doesn’t occur in this phase. It is also the transition before entering the telogen phase.
- Telogen phase – This is the last phase and when shedding occurs. You usually lose 50 to 100 hairs a day. If you lose more than that, it is considered hair loss.
Structural Damage From Drugs
Abusing illegal drugs that cause hair loss leads to structural damage to the hair. Specifically, the drugs alter the keratin that makes up the structure of your hair. This causes damage and hair loss. Excessive drug abuse can weaken and break your hair by lifting it from its shaft. This can cause you to lose hair very quickly.
Hair Loss From Mental Health
If you abuse drugs, it is extremely stressful on your body and mental health. If you are a chronic drug abuser, long-term exposure to stress can lead to extreme hair loss. For most people, their hair is a source of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Losing your hair can be traumatic for some people. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and low self-worth. Sometimes hair loss can worsen and even trigger mental health disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder (BOD) and trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder).
What Drugs Can Make Your Hair Fall Out?
Excessive drug abuse can cause severe health issues. Numerous illegal drugs cause hair loss, including methamphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, and Adderall. But what makes these illegal drugs cause hair loss?
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly addictive stimulant with severe negative consequences. Hair loss is one of the consequences. People who use meth often have very dramatic hair loss, which can have serious mental health impacts.
Meth abuse can cause tactile hallucinations, which can lead to hair loss. Tactile hallucinations are the constant sensations in the body, such as bugs crawling on the skin and other sensations. These hallucinations can cause you to pull your hair, pick your skin, and other self-induced injuries.
You are probably surprised to see marijuana on this list. However, some studies show that marijuana is one of the illegal drugs that cause hair loss. Abusing marijuana is linked to mental health problems like anxiety and depression, which can lead to hair loss,
Regular marijuana use can affect your endocrine system. This effect can increase hair loss. Your hormones need to be in balance for the body to function properly. Anything that alters that balance, like marijuana use, can lead to hair loss and other health issues.
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can have devastating effects on your body. It is also one of the illegal drugs that cause hair loss. Cocaine abuse leads to nutritional deficiencies, changes to sleep patterns, and a lack of self-care. Hair loss due to cocaine abuse can be permanent.
Adderall is commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People also use it as a party drug or to lose weight. However, Adderall has serious side effects, including hair loss.
While hair loss is not common with Adderall abuse but it does happen. It is thought that hair loss from Adderall is due to its effects on your metabolism. Adderall often increases cortisol and other hormones, which may increase hair loss.
How Do You Reverse Drug-Induced Hair Loss?
It is devastating for men and women when they start losing their hair. They often become insecure, have low self-esteem, and struggle with depression. But, you need to know there are treatment options available.
There are ways to reverse drug-induced hair loss. Firstly, you have to quit using drugs and get into treatment. Additional treatments may include low-level laser therapy, nutrition guidance, and reducing stress.
The Best Foods For Hair Growth
Abusing illegal drugs that cause hair loss leads to nutritional deficiencies. Vitamins and minerals are important in the hair follicle growth cycle. Studies show that you increase hair loss if you are low in vitamins B12 and D, biotin, riboflavin, iron, and other nutrients.
Eating a balanced diet rich in these vitamins and minerals can promote hair growth, especially when recovering from illegal drugs that cause hair loss.
Eggs are high in protein and biotin, which are essential for hair growth. Hair follicles are mostly protein, so eating eggs can increase new hair follicles. Biotin is essential in producing the hair protein keratin and is also available in supplement form.
Berries are loaded with vitamins, including vitamin C. They protect hair follicles against damage from free radical molecules. Berries also aid in collagen production and iron absorption.
Spinach is a healthy vegetable loaded with nutrients such as folate, iron, and vitamins A and C. These nutrients are crucial for hair growth, especially after using illegal drugs that cause hair loss.
Fatty fish like mackerel, herring, and salmon can promote hair growth. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which several studies link to hair growth. Fatty fish is also high in protein, vitamins D3 and B, and selenium which help keep your hair healthy and strong.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A. This vitamin affects the production of sebum which keeps hair healthy.
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and vitamin E. Along with vitamin C, vitamin E helps prevent oxidative stress that often leads to hair loss.
Nuts contain a variety of nutrients that promote hair growth after using illegal drugs that cause hair loss. Nuts also contain zinc, fatty acids, and a variety of B vitamins. All of these nutrients are crucial in hair regrowth.
Like nuts, seeds can repair hair damage from illegal drugs that cause hair loss. Seeds are high in vitamin E and other nutrients. Some seeds are high in omega-3s, which can help in hair regrowth.
Sweet peppers are a great source of vitamin C. One sweet yellow pepper has up to 456% of your daily vitamin C. Vitamin C keeps you healthy and helps hair growth.
One of the best sources of zinc is oysters. Zinc is important in repairing and regrowing hair. However, consuming too much zinc can be toxic.
Beans are a great source of plant-based protein. Beans are also a great source of zinc which aids in hair growth. They are also high in iron and biotin, which support hair growth.
Treatment for Hair Loss Caused by Drug Use
If you’re abusing illegal drugs that cause hair loss, treating your hair loss isn’t as important as treating your addiction. Trying to regrow your hair while you’re still abusing drugs is counter-productive.
Focusing on your recovery first allows your body to recover from the damage of drug abuse and creates a healthy environment for your hair to regrow. Achieving recovery from drug addiction can be challenging but seeking professional help can you become drug-free.
Once you have rid your body of toxins and live a healthy lifestyle, you can start various holistic treatments for hair loss. Several treatments for hair loss include making lifestyle changes and reducing stress.
Lifestyle Changes to Reverse Hair Loss from Illegal Drugs
Getting plenty of rest, exercising, and eating a healthy diet are crucial to regrow your hair. To facilitate hair growth, your body needs to be in great health. Your body repairs itself while you sleep and helps reduce stress. Exercise increases blood flow, and a healthy diet increases hair growth with vitamins and minerals.
It can take time to make these lifestyle changes second nature. So, be easy on yourself. Make small changes every day, and you will start to see the results.
Stress Management to Regrow Hair
Stress can cause unexpected and excessive hair loss. For this reason, getting a handle on your stress levels is crucial if you want to regrow your hair. While it can be easier said than done, the following are ways to reduce stress.
- Spend time in nature
- Family time
While stress is part of life, changing the way you respond to it can support your recovery from illegal drugs that cause hair loss.
Receive Treatment For Drug Addiction At Discovery
Drug abuse takes its toll on your body. And when your hair starts falling out, it can make you seriously consider seeking treatment. At Discovery Institute, we understand that recovery is a challenging journey, and we are there to help you every step. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.
Dr. Joseph Ranieri D.O. earned his BS in Pharmacy at Temple University School of Pharmacy in 1981 and His Doctorate Degree in Osteopathic Medicine at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1991. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and a Diplomate of the American Board of Preventive Medicine Addiction Certification. Dr. Ranieri has lectured extensively to physicians, nurses, counselors and laypeople about the Disease of Addiction throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 2012.