5 More Reasons To Say No

WARNING: Graphic medical photos.  Not for the squeamish!

For most websites, “Image of the Week” means pretty panoramas or funny snapshots. Over at the New England Journal of Medicine’s website, it means disturbing fuel for the hypochondriac fire. The site features images of some frightening physical symptoms, and more than a few of them are the result of drug and alcohol use. So, in case you or someone you love needs it, here are a few more reasons to just say “no.”

Fair warning: some of these are a bit disturbing.

An otherwise healthy 25-year-old man managed to wear away a dime-sized hole in the roof of his mouth (a condition known as palatal perforation) thanks to a five-year cocaine habit. The man came to the surgical clinic looking to have the hole repaired because it allowed food to pass through his nose when he ate.

The condition simply known as “black hairy tongue,” or lingua villosa nigra, is medically benign, but seems like it could have some fatal side effects in social and romantic situations. This tongue belongs to an 85-year-old cigar smoker, and while the exact cause of black hairy tongue is unknown, relevant factors may include psychotropic agents, smoking, drinking alcohol, and poor oral hygiene. In some cases, black hairy tongue can only be removed with surgery.

A 54-year-old cocaine and opiates user went to the hospital with a painful rash on her face, chest and extremities. Tests showed that the rash was consistent with the toxic effects of an additive thought to enhance the euphoric effects of cocaine.

While the patient in this image was not a drug user, the condition known as “nail clubbing” can result from heroin use; but the result looks more like an LSD trip. Nail clubbing is the swelling of the fingers and toes underneath the nail, resulting in out of proportion digits.

Sometimes the most dangerous drugs are the legal ones. This X-ray sheds perfect light on a bar-room stunt in which a drunk man managed to stick an entire beer bottle up his rectum. Doctors were able to remove the bottle without breaking it, and the man’s recovery was uneventful once the anal bleeding subsided.

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