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Drugs & Health Blog

Meth Mouth and Crank Bugs: Meth-a-morphosis

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

The SBB has already told you about some of the nasty effects that methamphetamine can have on the body—remember that post about how scavengers won’t even eat the dead bodies of meth users?

Not only can meth mess up your body’s chemical structure and even cause problems with your heart and lungs, it also changes your appearance and behavior. Soon, meth users might not even look or act like themselves.

Bad news for teeth and skin

Ever heard of “meth mouth?” It isn’t pretty. Meth reduces the amount of protective saliva around the teeth. People who use the drug also tend to drink a lot of sugary soda, neglect personal hygiene, grind their teeth, and clench their jaws. The teeth of meth users can eventually fall outeven when doing something as normal as eating a sandwich. As if that’s not bad enough, meth can also cause skin problemsand we’re not just talking about regular zits.

Take a look at these pictures from the Department of Justice—but be aware, they're disturbing!

Meth users’ skin can start to look like this because they frequently hallucinate—or strongly imagine—that they’ve got insects creeping on top of or underneath their skin. The person will pick or scratch, trying to get rid of the imaginary “crank bugs.” Soon, the face and arms are covered with open sores that could get infected.

No peace of mind

In addition to the “crank bug” hallucinations, long-term meth use leads to problems such as irritability, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, sleeplessness, confusion, aggressive feelings, violent rages, and depression.

Users may become psychotic and experience paranoia, mood disturbances, and delusions. The paranoia may even make the person think about killing themselves or someone else.

For more information about how methamphetamine could harm your body and mind, read more in-depth information on NIDA DrugFacts.

Update: For the latest on meth mouth, read the blog post “Meth Mouth: Some Ugly Numbers.”

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


how disturbing. Not sure how anyone could consider doing meth after seeing those images.

idk whats not to get , these people put chemical in , with no water salt or vitamins to push the sweat thru there skin, and anyone who isnt sleepin for 5days in a row multiple times with a day between is gonna go crazy, hopeiquiy
Amen dopeboy! I couldn't have said it better myself(insert my beautiful white toothy smile here)
Meth mouth and crank bugs are not true and scare tactics used to deter use by young people They do exist but not from the drug ,and more so to blame is people who are already lazy and have bad hygiene habits.The bugs feeling are the same as having really dry skin. Picking youre face is another one ,done by those with acne who cant keep out of the mirrorr and popping zits with dirty hands. I HAVE used for 25 years. TRUST me you don't want to use meth ever because you wl get arrested and be unable to sleep.STAY AWAY FROM, METH..
Meth mouth is most definitely real I have used for 5 years. I don't have that problem because good hygeine but people who use regularly and cook/make dope tend to have teeth fall out. I've seen it happen plenty of times.
That's because they go for days without brushing your teeth or taking care of them like you.
Unfortunately even the most hygenic users still lose their teeth. From my experience , my teeth were eaten away at the root from stomache parasites that seep up from the belly to the throat. They latch on to teeth and are like sealants that dentists put on children. Meth users tend to consume lots of sugar that encourages parasites. Also the extremely toxic chemicals in tbe meth contribute to parasite growth...meth also constipates alot af people which can encourage growth of parasites. Seriously you need to stop judging and walk a mile in someone elses shoes before u assume anything. Know it alls like u only add to the problem so that real people with meth addiction are too ashamed to seek help. There is hope for anyone.Its never too late to try being the person u always wanted to b . By tbe grace of god transfornation into a clean new you is possible. Your worth it so dont waste your life .
I really liked your comments and just wanted to add that I have done almost every drug under the sun since I was 14 years old but I never tried meth til I was about 26. This was mainly because cocaine was still is my demon. I was a recreational user for a couple years then got caught up in a bad way for about a year of solid use. My upper teeth began to rot from the gums and when i went to the dentist she good doctor himself called it meth-mouth and humiliated me for en hour until I finally had enough and told him what he could do with his educated guessing! I told him he was a dentist not my drug counselor and since it was a free clinic sponsored by the local Baptist churches I told him that had he not been a volunteer he would not have been compensated anyway because he obviously should have ran a butcher shop instead of wasting all that money on his so-called degree. I went on to let him know that I was a coke head so I couldn't possibly have meth-mouth but that maybe I would give it a try. Bottom line, it doesn't matter what people call you, it's what you answer to that counts! Don't ever let anyone build themselves up by tearing you down! Chances are that's why you became a user to begin with so really what have you got to lose by owning whatever you do and whoever you are? We're all human and everyone has a vice, but us dopers happen to fall into a category that has not yet been approved by a sheeple society. I'm not saying addiction is healthy just that life happens to the best of us and we each have to walk our own path. So next time you're getting put down just remember that person ain't keepin' it real with them self either so they'd rather dig in your back yard than weed their own little gardens of lies, adultery, anger, treachery, or whatever they may choose to use to cope with their reflection in the mirror...
Has anyone noticed that the more illegal the drug is, the more unknowns it has and in neutral non bias studies usually prove to be the most beneficial to ones health. Our planet is dirty and we can only create toxic life. All these drugs do is increase metabolic activity. If there's junk in your system, which it's in evwruines, the body will try to process it quicker because it knows it wants to ride you of the toxins. Should u slam your body w nutrients and then use, stimulants will work to your benefit. It requires conscious effort and the addiction is the subconscious craving the remedy for toxicity relief. Feeling clean is the high that make u feel good.. blame stoopid people for stoopid actions and force them to recognize and take responsibility for their own actions. Drug use vs drug abuse is a topic of debate but the legalities cripple the communication to expand the knowledge and suppressing the progress of mankind's medical breakthroughs to healing. Lasse Faire!! What one chooses to put in their body is their own decision.. government overstep needs to be reevaluated and criminals need to persecuted for their actions and stop ruining it for the responsible users who obtain the health benefits from it. Western medicine is just that. Drs are only licensed to practice medicine, not healing. Nature heals if you let it. How can a substance derived from the earth be illegal. Prosecute the earth and you will find jt innocent. Prosecute the man and offer a gentle reorganisation after the true culprit is identified. Emotional upset and buried feelings of a backwards world is to blame. There is just no time to feel feelings and allow the chemical process of the brain to do its job and provide healing assistance, so instinctively drugs from the earth find those in need.
Can you please do a spell check?! METH CHEMICALS ARE NOT NATURAL EARTH SUBSTANCES!! You tell me how it "heals" when you see the horrid pictures of the before and after user pictures? Seriously though what planet are you on? May God bless you.
Dude, you can't still be really still be alive???
I have a brother that may be using drugs. He is 44 lives with my 82 year old mom. Twice now he behaved extremely agitated pupils were teeny tiny his teeth are rotten and extremely skinny. Could this be cocaine use? He says he’s not on anything which I know is a lie. He drinks a lot and smokes weed all day. I really don’t know what to do. I had him working in my restaurant as a cook and he was doing awesome. He exploded for no reason and was yelling at a co worker. Long story short he is no longer working. He walked off the job. My mom is 82 and doesn’t know how to get him help. Would you mind offering any suggestions? Please and thank you!! I am so heartbroken over this as he’s my little bro and love him dearly.

We understand how hard it can be to see a loved one struggling with a possible drug problem. While we can’t offer medical advice, we do recommend consulting with a health care provider to ask for assistance specific to your geographic area and your brother’s needs and willingness to get help. You’re also doing him a great service by continuing to ask questions and listen when he’s ready to talk. You might also consider calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for treatment referral and information, 24/7.

great reply!some people are ashamed because they got addicted to the drug. it is a completely different life style then the one they were living before the meth took over. they need help,and support. not people putting them to shame! getting addicted to such a thing is shameful enough!
You can say that again! The self esteem is already crushed. Sometimes good people just make mistakes
This is the most scientifically sound statement I have ever seen. It all makes sense now STOMACH PARASITES are "seeping" up towards our teeth and forming a loose seal on them(they can't make it an airtight seal otherwise bacterial growth wont occur.
Bahahaha you win! That was perfect.
There is hope as long as the person ...yes a person...they are humans. I was once one. Now I'm recovery. I never had actual bugs but thought I did. Yes I had teeth fall out. Not from not taking care of them though. Everyone is different on this drug. I am ocd and adhd bad. Have had plenty of tests and its for sure. However mine rotted. Ocd had me focussed on cleaning and my body was what I was ocd about. I used peroxide and bleach constantly. Probably spent as much on those 2 items daily as I did drugs. Unless u have been addicted to this u don't have a clue. I m clean now 7 yrs but I remember my last drug use like it was a few minutes ago.
Utter nonsense that parasite climb up to the mouth. Drugs like cocaine and meth dry out a mouth, salaiva production becomes limited due to dehydration, which naturally protects the mouth. Also, users tend to grind their teeth and/or clench their teeth hard that also cause damage to the mouth. This, combined with poor oral hygiene, a lack of nutrients and vitamins causes the whole body, including the mouth to deteriorate.
My brother was a picture of health until he started using Meth. First his teeth fell out. Of coarse one or two at a time. He started getting sores on his legs. His legs would swell and leak water. Sores got worse but he wouldn't go to the doctor because he didn't want them to do a blood test on him. He thought that they would call the police on him. The sores have ate the flesh off his leg and the rest looks like raw hamburger meat. He will call us dirty names when we want to take him to the hospital. He passed out and a friend called the ambulance. Hospital doctor said the leg has to be cut off or he will die, so he left the hospital without being released. He went home and got high on Meth. Son, daughter, brothers and sisters can't convence him to stop using the Meth that is killing him.
Your comment hit it on the money honey. People need to be more compassionate, humble, empathetic, & overall loving towards one another.
Does the meth push the parasites around more in the host because of the chemicals that are in it weaken the immune system is down or does meth create parasites or Draw them to The Host because they see a weak individual that's been up too long and they seem like an easy target? Not sure just curious thank you if you do decide to reply

The bugs referred to in the blog are imaginary---a reaction to the drug. Here’s another blog that might interest you---a science project that shows that animals like coyotes, wolves and other scavengers will eat bodies found in the desert, but they will NOT eat the bodies of people who have used meth: See Interestingly, Daniel Martin did the project when he was in high school back in 2009. We just heard from Daniel that he has just graduated from law school and says science has helped him be a better lawyer, especially forensic science (CSI stuff.)

Hi thank you for your story im a meth user and I can't use the restroom for awhile and I have worms inside of me and im trying everything to get them out can you tell me what to do please.

It sounds like you’re in a very uncomfortable situation. We encourage you to reach out to a health care professional that you trust for help.

.. I have no idea who you are... but seriously.... thank you for understanding... your words truly gave me an sense of comfort as I read them..THANK YOU!
It strips out the bodies calcium supply,so teeth,nails deteriorate,plus its a stimulant so your body is running at a high rate,its like running a car at full speed,without putting enough petrol in it,
meth mites and mouth are as true as it gets. 2 days ago I smoke a bad batch and my body is going crazy. I haven't being able to sleep right for over 48 and counting hours. I still sweating this thing and I just hope the damage isn't permanent cus I need to sleep and the itch won't let me. I am truly panicking right now. I feel I want to cry. I hope my body comes through with this thing and at least gets it under control. I am never touching drugs ever again

Sorry you are going through this. If you want to talk to somebody, SAMHSA runs a crisis line that answers calls 24-7 to help people work through their problems. They're a really good resource, and you can reach them at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or If you want to get treatment for addiction, you can visit or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to find a program near you.

Thats good that u will never touch drugs again...Easy to say..Sorry u r having a terrible reaction. .dont know what people put in makes ya help.
I'm going through that moment too. 48 hours ago and no dice. I did some fat rails, then next thing you know, next day I was feeling paranoid with tremors in my hands...I got on my knees and prayed to Jesus to reboot my brain and my nerves ...I feel comfort now. God is the ultimate remedy bro...No more drugs in my life. Just Jesus.
Sorry to say but my boy is using meth. He believes bugs are in his body digging excessively
The Bug feeling is 4 real dude. Betta talk about somethng uve experienced...
Actually it is true.. My mom has been feeling bugs for a while now.. She believes they are in her body and everywhere around her.. Now we find out she's got meth in her system.. Its a real thing
Yes, they are true and your a fool if you think not.
And you can say it's due to hygiene problems but she showered more than she ever did because she was trying to wash the bugs away so ...
Your delusional
They are true. My son has the crank bugs---where he thinks bugs are crawling under his skin and now in his eyes. He has been picking at his skin trying to remove the bugs. I'm worried now that he says they are in his eyes. He went to the ER tonight. I don't know how that went yet. Before he took meth, he always had good hygiene. He is a handsome young man and very charming. He was off the meth for about a year and a half. He got his teeth fixed (smile back) and the sores had healed. He had just got to where he could wear shorts and short sleeves because the scars and really went down. Now----he's back at it. Sores all over him, calling me up at 11 PM or later telling me he's going crazy because of the things crawling under his skin and that he is a target individuals and under surveillance. Yeah, I'm worried sick and powerless. He will be turning 32 this coming July.
Hey Pam I was just wanting an update on your son and also to let you know that there is someone out here who cares and is praying for you and your son!
Wow I need to talk to other moms my son is sick and delusional thinks he has AIDS, or some horrible disease. Says it's like bamboo growing under his nails. He refuses to even believe he has a drug addiction and constantly saying he's going to jump off bridges but at 22 what can I do to help him get into treatment if he says he doesn't do those drugs just pot

We are sorry to hear about your son. We recommend speaking with a medical professional for advice. You might also want to call a substance abuse treatment center in your area. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. The Helpline number is 1-800-622-HELP (4357).

I agree with meth mouth being fake. But crank bugs are very real but they happen to a very small population. Like myself 3 days ago, I got a bad batch and swallowed about .3-.35 and that got me so high I vividly saw bugs under my skin to the point I got a big knife and cut under my skin a bit. It looked so real i was shaking from fear. And I slept the night b4.
I'm 58 and have been an addict to almost everything. I'be been to taking methadfone for close to m9 or 10 years. It doesn't work as wekll as it used to because they don't want to raise my dose. I started doing crystalk meth the (snortrin aqnd smoking. A gentleman drew some pictures of these worms that only a handful of people can see. hey are very inbtelliugent and may be a very helpful in sewinf torn tissue. Many are able to change their facad to whatever they need to help us. They inhale us some to live but I also feed them suits. Most like me and come out of their little nests to see me. tiny headsm, everyterar. Somtimed sa o mnkk[I ooo kjtf65 . I even have some jump into gummy worms 1 I then let them sit in my lap and inhale fluid and the white substance. their eyes, mouth and cheeks move. Their bodies swallow the foo. the last guy said other people were seeing these. Has anyone seen these.? the worms have a braided look but move quicklu. Please respond if you know anyone that see and communicates with thsr.. the others can draw pictures that . I'm not crazy. I have had respectable positions at 2 major universiytir at their Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and in bovine Genetic reproductuiibn.; I apologize for my typing errors. since they arrived 6 weeks ago they ly flat over my eyes and make it very blurry to read.
Yes. I thought I was crazy. Help me

We're sorry to hear about your struggles and appreciate you reaching out. Please contact a doctor if you have concerns. You can get information about drug treatment programs at If you aren't sure what to do or just want to talk to someone, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at

Method bugs aren't true? OK that's why I've spent the last 3 weeks with husband in ICU for picking his arms & legs vote such a bad infection they amputated 3 Toes on one foot last night and there saying hell probably going back to the OR sooner than later due to the other toes aren't healing. So sure you go ahead and belive that METH BUGS AREN'T TRUE.........
Uhhhh excuse me but i would love to see your science degree!I don't think you have any idea wat your talking about! I used meth for 15 years straight! And I've seen a lot of meth users pick their skin until it bleeds because they say they felt like there was bugs under their skin! I always kept good hyagene but I've had dentures for the last 8 years because I had "METH MOUTH" . And if you think they are picking zits obviously you've done done real METH! I've stayed up for 21 days straight with a couple 2-3 hour " Power Naps" (a nap for a very short period that's makes you feel super energized wen you wake up)in between and I've picked my face until there was big huge sores and people started making fun of me and asking me if I had aids!! YES METH MOUTH IS REAL!! YES CRANK BUGS ARE REAL!! I've got 5 years clean nd sober and I am gonna stay this way because I love me now and I hated me then! DONT DO METH!! STAY AWAY FROM ANY DRUGS IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE !
Yes they are real. Some users get "them" and others don't. My MIL didn't but my mother did and they drove her insane.