Is There a Link Between Drug Addiction and Hair Loss?
Hair loss is a natural part of life. We lose hair as we age, from genetic conditions, and under high levels of stress. But not all causes of hair loss are natural ones. Alcoholism and drug addiction, for example, are two conditions that few people know may also cause hair loss.
How Does Drug Abuse Cause Hair Loss?
For many years, experts have examined the link between drug addiction and hair loss. While there aren’t many studies that prove a direct link, there are studies that show a connection. The connection lies with drug use and the body’s production of adrenaline.
Adrenaline, in turn, affects the hair growth cycle. This is proof that drug addiction does not just impact one aspect of your life or another. It impacts all of them. Your mental health, physical health, relationships, career, and even criminal record can all be impaired by drug addiction.
What to Know About Drug-Related Hair Loss
It is far more common to talk about the health impairments of drug abuse. Conditions like lung disease, liver damage, and problems with our mental health take priority, as they should. Our health should always be more important than our looks.
But that does not mean that cosmetic issues are easy to ignore. Drug-related hair loss can damage your self-esteem and confidence. It can also be triggering for individuals who have or are prone to depression or anxiety.
In turn, these negative feelings can lead you to continue abusing drugs to cope. It is the same with drinking to ease anxiety. Sometimes, we drink to feel better or boost our moods. But over time, drinking often does the opposite.
So, we drink more to improve our moods. And as the alcohol impairs our moods rather than improving them, we come back around for another drink. On paper, these cycles are illogical. But they are much harder to identify and avoid when you are in them.
We create these detrimental cycles for ourselves. And the longer we allow them to continue, the harder they become to break out of. From top to bottom, drug addiction can change you. But once you choose to live a better way, we can help you find it.
Ways Addiction and Hair Loss Are Linked
We mentioned earlier that hair loss is triggered by an increase in adrenaline. Additionally, drug users regularly add harmful toxins to their bodies that may prevent them from getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
And when they do get the nutrients they need, the drug use may interfere with the way the body uses them. Whether the lack of nutrients is from a poor diet or the inability to properly absorb and use those nutrients, drug abuse can damage your appearance, including your hair.
Addiction can cause hair loss or other changes in its growth. In long-term use, drugs can interrupt the hair’s growth cycle, causing them to pause temporarily or stop growing permanently.
Drugs may enter hair from multiple sites through multiple mechanisms and at different times throughout the hair growth cycle. Strands of hair grow at different rates, and there is no way to tell where on the head or how much hair will be lost due to drug use. Everyone is different.
How Bad Will Drug-Related Hair Loss Get?
The type and severity of hair loss that you experience can vary depending on many individual factors. Some of these factors include:
- The type of drug used.
- The frequency and dosages of the drug used.
- Family history of hair loss.
- Other health conditions.
- Stress levels and age.
Family history, certain health conditions, and high stress levels can make it more likely for you to lose your hair prematurely. And age is a factor that affects each of us when it comes to hair loss.
While there is little we can do about aging or our family history, we can take steps to improve the other areas. Living an overall healthy life starts with ceasing drug abuse, eating nutritious foods, and learning how to cope with stress and other negative emotions.
We can help you achieve each of these goals in any of our drug addiction treatment programs. We offer full-time and part-time programs, as well as support meetings, to ensure that you have access to the help you need when and where you need it.
What Drugs Cause Hair Loss
A large number of drugs may interfere with the hair cycle and produce hair loss. Two of the most common and illicit drugs that cause hair loss are cocaine and LSD. One study tested hair samples from users of cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and LSD under electron microscopes.
In this study, the drug-free hair shafts from the control group were intact, regular, and undamaged. However, when it came time to examine the hair from the cocaine users, the keratinized structures were damaged in 97.2% of the samples.
And the outer layer of the hair was damaged in 95.8% of the samples, as well. They found that hair shafts from cocaine abusers are very thin and fragile. Meanwhile, the hair samples tested from the heroin and cannabis abusers were intact and regular.
The LSD samples told a different story. In nearly all the tested samples (97.9%), the cuticle layer was destroyed, and cuticle cells were lifted from the hair shaft. In 95.8% of the samples, the hair was fragile, broken, and detached.
The hair fibers from the LSD users were very weak and fragile, similar to the results of the tests on the hair from the cocaine users. The researchers who performed these studies maintain that further research and a more comprehensive analysis of hair samples from different illicit drug abusers is necessary to gain more information.
How Do the Drugs Get to Your Hair?
Illicit drugs, through any method, accumulate in the hair in a few different ways. They may build up there by entering the bloodstream, absorbing through the sweat, or attaching to the strands from smoke vapors. However they get there, it is clear that certain illicit drugs can cause hair loss, no matter what method you use to ingest them.
Treating Your Addiction to Prevent Hair Loss
Addiction programs like the ones that we offer can help you address and overcome a wide variety of issues. Cosmetic concerns, like hair loss and weight changes, often improve as you work on building an overall healthier lifestyle.
From there, there are several different options for treatment for hair loss if it is still needed. But one of the best ways to reverse the damage done and prevent further damage is to stop abusing drugs first. As you detox, you flush toxins from your body.
Your body learns how to find its balance, regulate itself, and return to normal. The effects of building a healthy, sober life will be felt from top to bottom.
Getting Started at Pathfinders Recovery Center
At Pathfinders, we offer a unique variety of personalized addiction care programs to help you meet your goals and improve your quality of life. With a helping hand, recovery is possible. And a new life is just a phone call away.
With centers in Arizona and Colorado, we make it easy to get the help you need where and when you need it. Our addiction counselors are available now to answer your questions, perform your intake, or verify your insurance. Call them at 866-576-4892 to get started.