Visible Signs of Methamphetamine Abuse

Although there are many effects of methamphetamine abuse, one of the most astonishing is the effect the drug has on the physical appearance of the users.

Although many meth users deny that their drug use affects their appearance or causes a condition known as meth mouth, the photographs on these pages tell a different story.


Mug Shot Progression

Bridgitte Matzke
Matzke's Earliest Mug Shot. Mug Shot

This is the photographic history of a 25-year-old Florida woman, Bridgitte Matzke, whose progression into the depths of methamphetamine abuse is shown in a series of police mug shots taken by law enforcement agencies over a three-year period and compiled by an Orlando television station.

The above photo is the earliest of Matzke's mug shots, taken when she was probably 22 years old. The effect of drug use on her appearance over the following three short years is as striking as it is horrifying.


Meth Weakens Blood Vessels

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

One of the effects of methamphetamine is that it causes blood vessels to constrict, cutting off the blood supply to all parts of the user's body. Prolonged use of meth can eventually weaken or destroy the blood vessels, which can cause bodily tissue to become easily damaged and limit the body's ability to repair those tissues.

In this above photo, Matzke was arrested for attempting to elude law enforcement.


Meth Users Can Develop Acne and Sores

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

As methamphetamine use inhibits the body from repairing itself, users can develop acne, their sores can take longer than usual to heal and the skin begins to lose its luster and elasticity.

The above mug shot followed Matzke's arrest for shoplifting.


Obsessive Skin-Picking Common for Meth Users

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

Another reason that some methamphetamine users can be covered in small sores is a disorder known as formication, in which the user hallucinates having bugs crawling beneath their skin, resulting in obsessive skin-picking.

Matzke's mug shot above was the result of another arrest for fleeing or attempting to elude.


Meth Can Cause Extreme Weight Loss

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

Another effect of methamphetamine use is its stimulant properties which can create excessive spells of physical activity while at the same time suppressing the appetite. Many meth user experience weight loss, which at first, may seem advantageous.

Matzke's arrest for driving with a license canceled, suspended or revoked resulted in the above mug shot, her fifth.


Meth Users Can Become Gaunt, Frail

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

While the weight loss caused by methamphetamine use can initially seem attractive, continued use of the drug can cause users to become gaunt and frail, rather than slim and attractive.

Another arrest for driving with a license canceled, suspended or revoked resulted in Matzke's sixth mug shot above.


Week-Long Meth Binges Cause Harm

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

Typically, heavy meth users will go on "runs" of heavy use that can last for several days or sometimes weeks. These binges are usually accompanied by long periods of tooth-grinding, poor diet and poor hygiene, which can result in broken, stained or rotting teeth.

The above mug shot was the result of Matzke's arrest for resisting a merchant and petit theft, second offense.


Smoking Meth Causes Dry Mouth

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

Smoking methamphetamine causes a condition known as xerostomia, which is basically dry mouth. It can result in tooth decay and gum disease.

Matzke was arrested for Petit theft, producing her eighth police booking photo above.


Poor Hygiene Common for Meth Users

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

Poor hygiene habits are another common factor for heavy methamphetamine users, who go on week-long drug-use binges. This also can have an effect on the user's overall appearance, especially when they are having their photograph taken unexpectedly at the local police station.

Matzke's mug shot above followed an arrest for possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, her first arrest directly linked to drug use.


Meth Use Causes Teeth Grinding

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

Heavy methamphetamine users typically develop bruxism — grinding and clenching of the teeth, which can cause tooth enamel to fracture. This is particularly damaging to badly decaying teeth.

The 10th Matzke mug shot was the result of another drug bust — possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of amphetamine.


Chronic Meth Use Affects the Brain

Bridgitte Matzke
Bridgitte Matzke. Mug Shot

Long-term methamphetamine use not only affects the user's appearance and health but also affects their brain. Chronic meth use can lead to psychotic behavior, including paranoia, insomnia, anxiety, extreme aggression, delusions, and hallucinations.

Addiction to meth and craving for the drug can affect the user's judgment and decision-making, as we see with Bridgitte Matzke's 11th arrest and mug shot.

On Aug. 11, 2014, Matzke was arrested for assaulting her 84-year-old grandmother after the elderly woman did not give her $80 that she demanded. Port Orange, Florida police said Matzke violently attacked the older woman, tearing off her bra and twisting her wrists.

When the grandmother tried to call 9-1-1, Matzke reportedly ripped the telephone off the wall and threw it at her. Matzke then robbed her grandmother of $1,900 worth of jewelry and a cell phone and fled the scene with her husband, Alex Caldwell, 26.

The two were arrested outside a gas station in Daytona a short while later. Matzke was charged with possession of cannabis, possession of paraphernalia, possession of amphetamines, theft, driving with a canceled or suspended license and false imprisonment.

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Article Sources
  • WFTV. "Florida Woman Has 11th Booking Photo Taken After Alleged Assault on Grandmother." 13 August 2014.
  • WGBH Educational Foundation. "How Meth Destroys the Body." Frontline Updated May 17, 2011