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To date, no large-scale studies have been carried out specifically exploring hair loss problems as a direct result of human drug use. Nevertheless, recreational drug use causes a dramatic rise in adrenaline levels, which can interfere with the hair growth cycle.
Worldwide, it is estimated 164 million people had an alcohol or drug use disorder in 2016. Almost 70% of people with a drug or alcohol problem are men.
We know about the effects that illegal drugs can have on our skin,
brains and internal organs, but what can illegal drugs do our hair and can they kick start permanent hair loss?
Let’s get into it.
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All recreational drugs have the potential to cause a type of hair loss called Telogen Effluvium as taking drugs to cause a huge shock to the system. Certain hair follicles can prematurely stop growing and will enter the resting phase, (Telogen) where they remain for three months, after which time they are shed.
If the person stops taking drugs and the body is able to rebalance itself naturally, then hair loss comes to a natural end and a normal hair growth cycle returns approximately six months after taking the drugs.
Hair loss can also be a secondary effect of drug use, particularly Cocaine, due to malnutrition - this is because most regular users fail to maintain a balanced and healthy hair diet.
Tolerance of drugs varies from person to person.
However, for some people taking recreational drugs can also cause another type of hair loss: diffuse thinning.
Regular drug use can also lead to illness, an affected sleep pattern and a weakened immune system: all of which contribute to a weaker hair growth cycle and a worsening of other hair loss conditions such as Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss.
For some people, healthy hair growth may never be restored as the primary and secondary effects of drug use can trigger Androgenic Alopecia or Male / Female Pattern baldness.
This condition is caused by increased levels of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT – the hormone that attacks the hair follicles causing slower growth and eventually stopping all growth). If left untreated, DHT will lead to eventual baldness in men and all-over thinning of the hair in women.
Approximately 80 percent of men and 50 percent of women will develop this condition at some point in their lives, whether or not they take recreational drugs, however using illegal drugs can make this condition worse or make it start earlier than it would normally.
To stop the use of drugs causing hair loss, the first and most vital step is to seek medical help in stopping drug use. The NHS offers advice on how to quit drugs
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