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Correlations Between Drugs And Hair Loss

by Landmark Recovery

February 12, 2021
ioad 2021

Is There A Correlation Between Drugs And Hair Loss?

The question of the relationship between drugs and hair loss has been a source of debate among researchers. While few concrete studies directly link drug use to hair loss, there is reason to believe that drug use affects the body’s adrenaline production. This can affect the cycle of hair growth.

The Science Behind Drugs And Hair Loss

Hair loss is normal to a certain extent. Some substance users may find themselves suffering from excessive or unusual hair loss or other effects to their hair.

There is a correlation between drugs and hair loss. Substance abuse can cause a type of hair loss called ‘telogen effluvium’ according to the hair loss experts at The Belgravia Center in London.  What exactly is telogen effluvium? The long and short of this condition boils down to this: a sudden and severe shock to the system can stunt follicle growth and cause increased hair shedding. Yes, it’s a real thing. This is why people who undergo extreme stress and trauma—a car crash, a divorce, or perhaps a year-long public health crisis—sometimes end up losing their hair.

Telogen effluvium seems to be a relatively common occurrence among individuals who abuse substances. And it’s not difficult to imagine why! Addicted individuals are likely experiencing high levels of physical and emotional stress, whether substance abuse is the cause or result of the trauma. Fortunately, the body will eventually rebalance itself after the cessation of drug use. Then, normal hair growth should resume after several months of sobriety.  

Diffuse Thinning

Another condition called ‘diffuse thinning’ or ‘chronic telogen effluvium’ can result in increased hair fall rates and thinning all over the scalp. While the hair follicle itself remains unaffected, it can cause significant and noticeable hair loss for the individual. 

Diffuse thinning can be what Belgravia’s experts call a “secondary effect” of drug intake. This is different than telogen effluvium, which is an affliction that tends to result from short stretches of extreme stress. Neglect, malnutrition, and an unhealthy lifestyle are just a few factors contributing to diffuse thinning.

Substance use takes precedence over maintaining sleep, nutrition, and hygiene for many drug abusers. This leads to hair loss and other physical effects. In some cases, substances such as alcohol can inhibit the absorption of key nutrients—like zinc, copper, and protein—that the body needs to function. That means the function of hair growth may also be affected.

Unlike telogen effluvium, which tends to last weeks or months, diffuse thinning lasts for an extended period. For the most part, both these conditions are reversible with the proper treatment. There are some cases where TE and diffuse thinning can trigger conditions that cause permanent hair loss.

Hair Damage And Substance Abuse

It’s highly likely that both men and women will develop some sort of hair loss in their lifetime. But, drug use can cause and exacerbate premature hair loss. 

It’s also known that some drug users – such as those who abuse methamphetamines – experience tactile hallucinations. For example,  the sensation of bugs crawling under their skin. This may lead them to pick and scratch at their scalp or even pull their hair. This, in its own way, could lead to the effects of hair loss.

The effects on hair are just one manifestation of drug abuse on personal health. If you are struggling with drug abuse, Landmark Recovery can help guide you on a journey to better health. It all starts with a phone call. Reach out today to find out how we can help. 

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.