After giving up drugs these people became unrecognizable

Everyone knows drugs are harmful. But it never ceases to shock, what an enormous effect they can have on users — especially on their physical appearance. The following before-and-after pics of former addicts show the true horror of drugs, as well as the truly impressive recoveries they've made. 

It's hard to believe that the woman in this before picture was only 19 years old! She describes it in her own, painfully honest words: "I weighed about 100 pounds... I stole from my friends for drugs. I stole from my family for drugs. I lied. Cheated. Hurt very good people. ...It's been ten years and I am ready to leave the past, in the past. ...I am a whole, strong, and amazing person and I am damn proud of myself."

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Today she's a 32-year-old, happy, healthy mother. It's incredible that this is the same woman smiling into the camera! 

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The next transformation is amazing as well. This young woman was addicted to heroin for years. Her situation got worse and worse until she finally went into rehab. That allowed her to kick the habit and rebuild a great life for herself. Impressive.

This young woman was on heroin too, with side effects like the terrible acne across her face. Now that she's eight months sober, it's even easier to see what a terrible effect the drugs had on her whole body. She looks fantastic now! 

This guy was in the clutches of crystal meth, which has swept particularly rural parts of the country in a brutal epidemic. It's cheaper, exceedingly addictive, and makes quick work of destroying users' whole bodies, making it one of the most dangerous drugs out there. Good for him, for fighting his way out of it! 

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Another victim of heroin, this woman started using during an episode of depression. The drug unfortunately made it even worse, driving her to the edge of the abyss. With the help of friends and family she made it out and took the 'after' picture on her proud 826th day sober.

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It's not always drugs that get people addicted. For this man the problem was food. It's incredibly hard to recover from serious eating disorders, partly because you can't ever actually stop eating. You have to develop a new and healthier relationship to food (and your own body), which he's clearly done with great success! 

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This man was depressed and underweight when he took this picture, a day before he went to prison for his cocaine habit. He didn't care about eating or sleeping anymore. All that mattered was that white powder. 

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Today he's fit and healthy — and able to take much better care of himself now that he's clean! 

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Puffy, bloodshot eyes and misery: this was her reality for a long time. Until she decided to turn her life upside down (or back right side up!), break her addiction, and rediscover what a lovely person was hiding inside.  

This man can hardly believe it himself. A year ago he quit crystal meth and today he just has to shake his head when he sees his earlier mugshot. Well done! 

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This young man's story is particularly tough, since he got hooked on heroin when he was still a kid. For seven terrible years his whole life was determined by drugs.

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Then his luck changed when he met a kindly social worker who got him into a rehab program. Nine months later, the transformation is astonishing. He's definitely on the road to a better life!

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Clear skin, bright eyes, healthy weight... it's amazing what 90 days without crystal meth have done to this young woman. Bravo! 

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Another victim of the 'party drug,' meth. But after five years drug-free, it looks like this woman has rediscovered the joy in life! She's proud of her achievement too. And she's determined never to return to that dark place again.

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Just skin and bones: when he was hooked on cocaine and heroin this guy didn't care about anything, least of all his own health or wellbeing. He described thinking it would be "fun," when he first started taking drugs. Now three years clean though, he says he's learned to truly enjoy life.

This woman thought it would be impossible to alleviate her mental anguish, after taking meth and painkillers for 15 years. But in 2012 she managed to break free of her addiction and build a new life. She's convinced that there's hope for everyone now. Just to look at her, you pretty much have to agree.

It's terrifying how drugs can ruin people. But that's all the more reason why these people should be proud of having conquered the demon. They're now living much happier lives and their faces show it. Everyone should get a second chance like this!

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