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Warning Signs of Addiction

  1. Article SummaryPrint
  2. Risk Factors for Addiction
  3. Addiction Signs for Friends and Family

Most people initially use drugs or alcohol out of curiosity, because friends are also using, or in an effort to improve health issues, stress, or another problem in their life. Because the motivation and level of usage are different for each individual, the signs of addiction may not be visible to those around them for a long time. Using drugs or alcohol doesn’t necessarily lead to addiction. There is no set point at which a person will become addicted because, like drug abuse symptoms and alcohol addiction signs, the level of use and vulnerability to addiction tend to vary from person to person.

Addiction Myth: Drug or alcohol addiction is a disease that is untreatable. The truth is that addiction is a disease, but not one that you are helpless to stop. The changes that drug use can cause in your brain are treatable and can be reversed through therapy, treatment, and medication. Those seeking alcohol or drug addiction treatment at a private facility can call 1-888-287-0471 toll-free 24/7 or click here to contact us.

Did You Know?

The signs of addiction are more about the consequences, or effect of the drug use and less about the amount a person consumes. If use of drugs or alcohol is part of an effort to treat problems in your life, you are likely to develop an addiction, regardless of how little or how often you’re using.

Risk Factors for Addiction

The signs of addiction vary, but there are certain factors that may make one person more vulnerable to addiction than others. These risk factors include:

  • Mental health issues like depression
  • Family history of addiction
  • Early use of drugs or alcohol
  • Abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences in childhood
  • Means of administration. Smoking or injecting a drug can increase its addictive potential

Signs of addiction often depend on the drug being used, but there are several warning signs that signal some level of dependency is present.

Addiction Myth:

Beating addiction is a matter of willpower. Prolonged drug use can alter the way that your brain works. This results in powerful and intense cravings, and is accompanied by a compulsion to use. These chemical changes in the brain make overcoming drug addiction by sheer force of will difficult, and often a drug treatment program is necessary.

General Signs of Addiction

1. Physical Appearance
The use of drugs and alcohol will have a visible effect on the body. These signs or changes in physical appearance may include one or more of the following:

  • Rapid or sudden weight loss
  • Unusual cuts and/or bruises
  • Unexplained or unusual sores
  • Redness in the face or skin rashes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Tooth decay or gum problems
  • Odor on clothing or body

2. Health Problems
Addiction alters your overall health. Signs of addiction commonly include health issues that may vary depending on the drug, but typically include fatigue, irregular sleeping patterns, nosebleeds, vomiting, headaches, memory loss, seizures, dry mouth, and persistent illness.3. Personality Changes
Unexplained personality changes are a common sign of addiction for both drug and alcohol use. These changes may include a sudden loss of conscience or inhibition, loud or obnoxious behavior, out of character isolation, excitement, or hyperactivity.

4. Mental Health Issues
Drug addiction symptoms can often cause mental health symptoms because many drugs chemically alter the brain. These signs can include paranoia, hearing voices, compulsive actions, and lack of focus.

5. Emotional Volatility
Drugs and alcohol are classified as stimulants and depressants and these can alter a person’s emotional state. Because of this action, sudden or unexplained depression, mood swings or hostility, and aggression are common signs of addiction. If you or someone you know exhibits emotional signs of addiction, you can call 1-888-287-0471 toll-free 24/7 or click here to contact us for information regarding private drug or alcohol treatment options.

6. Problems at Work or School
Problems at work or school are common red flags that indicate a drug or alcohol addiction. Unexplained absences, lateness, and problems with peers or coworkers can indicate the presence of an addiction.

7. Problems at Home
If you notice that a loved one locks doors or suddenly becomes secretive, uses air fresheners or perfumes excessively, or that you have missing medication, alcohol, cleaners, or other chemical products, these may indicate a drug or alcohol addiction.

8. Changes in Activity Levels
A sudden or dramatic change in activity levels is one of the primary signs of addiction. Once addiction has developed, the substance abuse becomes the focus of the person’s life, forcing out previously enjoyed activities. If you find that a loved one has lost interest in favorite activities, is uncharacteristically breaking promises or making excuses, is avoiding friends and family, or is disappearing for period of time, there may be cause for concern.

9. Loss of Possessions
If you suspect that a loved one is battling addiction, an inventory of his or her personal space can offer some warning signs of addiction. The most obvious sign is the presence of tools of drug use such as pipes or homemade apparatuses. To obtain more of the drug he or she may also sell personal items, or steal from others.

10. Broken or Unhealthy Relationships
A person’s choice of friends can also be warning signs of addiction. If your loved one has new friends that he or she won’t introduce or speak about, suddenly becomes promiscuous or flirtatious, or abruptly breaks ties with close friends or family, there may be an addiction present.

Addiction Myth:You have to hit rock bottom before you can be ready to begin recovery. Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction can occur at any time. In fact, the earlier in the addiction process you get treatment, the better. It is not recommended to wait until you or a loved one has lost everything before seeking treatment.

Like any disease or illness, early detection and treatment are vital to successful recovery. If you notice signs of addiction to drugs or alcohol contact a treatment advisor at 1-888-287-0471 who can answer your questions, confidentially, any time day or night, with no obligation; or, click this link to contact us by email.

Signs of addiction are not limited to a general list of symptoms. Drug use may result in specific physical and behavioral signs of addiction. These may include:

  • Neglecting responsibilities at work or school.
  • Using drugs under dangerous conditions, or taking risks like driving while high, using dirty needles, or engaging in unprotected sex.
  • Legal problems related to drug use such as arrests or stealing to support the addiction.
  • Fighting with partners, friends, or family members.
  • You need more of the drug (or use it more often) to achieve the same effects.
  • Using drugs to avoid or ease withdrawal symptoms.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, insomnia, tremors, sweating, depression, or body aches if you are unable to take the drug.
  • You find you take the drug more often than planned, even if you told yourself that you wouldn’t use.
  • Life revolves around your drug use, and you spend most of your time thinking about the drug, or how to obtain more.
  • Despite problems caused by the drug use, you continue to use.

Common Physical Drug Addiction Symptoms

  • Behavioral changes
  • Mood swings
  • Isolation
  • Lack of interest in personal hygiene
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Red or glassy eyes
  • Runny nose or sniffling

"Alcoholism is often defined by how much a person might drink, or how often."
Although the signs of addiction to different drugs vary because each drug can cause different physical effects on the body, the symptoms of addiction to both drugs and alcohol can be similar.

Alcoholism is often defined by how much a person might drink, or how often. But alcohol addiction signs are not usually isolated to how many drinks you have in a day, or how often each week you find you need to drink. Like other signs of addiction, the criteria used to determine whether someone is addicted to alcohol not only include how much you use, but the motivation behind it, and your ability to stop.

Addiction Myth:

An addict must want help, and cannot be forced into treatment. Those pressured into treatment by the legal system, medical professionals, friends, or family are just as likely to achieve a successful recovery from addiction as those who enter into treatment voluntarily. As the drug is removed from their bodies, and their thinking becomes clearer, many addicts find they want to remain clean and sober. Those seeking addiction treatment at a private facility can call 1-888-287-0471toll-free 24/7 or click here to contact us.

Alcohol Addiction Signs

  • You require larger quantities more often to achieve the desired effects.
  • Attempts to stop drinking on your own are largely unsuccessful.
  • Large parts of your day are spent recovering from the effects of alcohol or thinking about your next drink.
  • If you cannot obtain more alcohol, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, irritability and other mood swings, tremors, insomnia, and general illness.
  • You drink more to alleviate or ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • You have isolated yourself from friends and family.
  • You continue to drink despite negative physical or psychological consequences.

An answer of yes to any of these alcohol addiction signs indicates that you may have an addiction. You can contact a treatment advisor at 1-888-287-0471 who can answer your questions, confidentially, any time day or night, with no obligation; or, click this link to contact us by email.

Did You Know?

Consuming more than three drinks of alcohol per day can have a poisonous effect on your heart, and this can lead to heart disease. A drink typically means 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Addiction Signs for Friends and Family

Often the most obvious signs of addiction are visible to the person addicted to drugs or alcohol. Friends or family may not always know that a problem exists initially, because they aren’t aware of the signs to look for. But there are some common signs of addiction that serve as red flags, which indicate a loved one may be battling an addiction to alcohol:

  • Alcohol is necessary for the person to function “normally”.
  • He or she often drinks alone or tries to hide his or her drinking.
  • He or she shows an inability to stop, or limit the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Shows anger when questioned about his or her drinking.
  • Personality changes with consumption of alcohol. For example, he or she becomes violent or aggressive.
  • Has the “shakes” or trembles after not drinking for a short time, such as overnight.
  • Anxious or stressed if a social gathering does not include alcohol.
  • Blacks out when drinking.
  • Exhibits poor eating habits
  • Makes excuses so that he or she can continue drinking.

In some cases, the signs of addiction are visible only to those around the person battling a drug or alcohol addiction. If you are concerned that someone you know has a drug or alcohol addiction, there are several things you can do to help:

  • Voice your concerns without being judgmental or accusatory. The earlier drug and alcohol addiction is treated, the higher the chances are of successful recovery. Don’t wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom.
  • Don’t get caught up in the addiction. Find people that you can speak to, and avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations like confronting someone while he or she is high or inebriated.
  • Don’t blame yourself. You can help your loved one, and encourage him or her to get treatment, but the addiction is not your fault, and neither are his or her decisions.
  • Don’t punish, bribe, or threaten him or her, in order to force treatment.
  • Avoid emotional appeals. This can increase feelings of guilt for the user which may cause him or her to feel the compulsion to use again.
  • Don’t enable the drug or alcohol use by covering up or making excuses for him or her. Avoid protecting your loved one from the negative consequences of his or her behavior.

Did You Know?

Alcohol and drug addiction can lead to liver cirrhosis. Prolonged use of drugs or alcohol can cause users to experience poor appetite or anorexia, general but persistent malaise, and extreme weight loss.

Addiction Myth:

If treatment of your addiction hasn’t worked before, it won’t work. Recovery from addiction is a long process that may include relapse. Relapsing one or more times does not mean that there is no chance of recovery. It is a sign that you require further treatment, or a different approach.

Alcohol and drug addiction are not simple problems that can be treated by a pill or a certain therapy. Addiction is a cycle that requires treatment that is tailored to the individual, and the drug that is used. Support is essential to long-term recovery, so don’t try to treat alcohol addiction signs or drug addiction symptoms alone. Most people struggling with addiction aren’t aware that there are many resources available to them. Recognizing that you have a problem is the most important step on the road to recovery. The next step is treatment by a team of trained professionals. Choosing the right treatment center may seem difficult. You can contact a treatment advisor at 1-888-287-0471who can answer your questions, confidentially, any time day or night, with no obligation; or, click this link to contact us by email.

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  1. Question: What is a physical addiction?Submitted By: Arlene B.

    • S.F.

      A physical addiction is where the body becomes tolerant to a drug and requires more to function normally. The body stops producing certain chemicals because the drug is creating them. Once the drug is withdrawn, the body will take a while to restart production of these chemicals.

  2. Question: What is a psychological addiction?Submitted By: Gordon B

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      A psychological addiction is where person feels as though he or she cannot function without the drug, particularly in stressful or social situations.

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      A number of cough medicines contain dextromethorphan, also known as DMX, or codeine, which are addictive substances.

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