signs of addiction

The five most common signs of addiction are the initial signs of experimentation, physical signs, behavioral signs, changes in personality, and overall decline in health. 

Drug abuse affects individuals from all walks of life and all socioeconomic ranks. Whatever the cause, when someone starts using drugs recreationally or as prescribed, physical dependence and addiction can develop. Sometimes addiction develops without the user even acknowledging it. 

When a full-blown addiction develops, it can be challenging to halt drug use without professional treatment. Drug abuse can cause devastation on the mind and body and could ultimately become deadly. Once you or a loved one admits a problem, it’s vital to get help immediately. There is no embarrassment in acknowledging that drug or alcohol addiction treatment could be life-saving.

The use of most substances will display observable signs and symptoms. These may combine physical and behavioral symptoms.

Identifying the Initial Signs of Addiction

Addicts won’t usually show telltale signs of a full-blown addiction in the early stages of abuse. 

Some early-stage signs of addiction will include:

  • Being around family members who struggle with addiction
  • Experimentation
  • Being particularly drawn to a substance
  • Episodes of binging with no feelings of remorse after
  • Seeking out situations to obtain drugs

Regarding general social behaviors like smoking or drinking, it’s challenging to conclude if there’s an addiction predicament. What looks like addiction could be an exploratory method of stress management. But if a real addiction is left untreated, it could progress into a debilitating habit or increase the risk of illness.

Physical Signs of Addiction 

Some of the more apparent symptoms of drug abuse are the ones that affect particular physiological functions. For instance, your body’s tolerance to a substance occurs when a drug is used for a long time or frequently enough that it conforms to the consistently high presence of the drug. When tolerance increases, your body needs enhanced quantities or concentrations of the drug to feel the same effect.

Individuals using substances to get high could end up taking such large doses that they put themselves at higher risk of a lethal overdose.

Changes in appearance are also signs of probable substance use, including:

  • Abrupt weight changes
  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Poor hygiene
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Skin changes
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Dental issues

Signs of addiction will vary based on the drug and how it’s used.

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

Substance abuse tends to tremendously modify an individual’s behavior. Some substances can damage the brain’s ability to concentrate and think clearly.

Changes in behavior are often associated with substance abuse and can include:

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Variations in character
  • Heightened aggression 
  • Engagement in illegal activity
  • Abrupt shifts in a social network
  • Dramatic variations in habits

Understanding how to see physical and behavioral signs of substance use can help keep the problem from getting worse.

Identifying Changes in Personality

Once an individual progresses past the experimenting stage of addiction, they’ll likely display significant changes in their personality. These shifts may be occasional at the beginning. 

Telltale signs of addiction include:

signs of addiction
  • Less interested in hobbies or activities 
  • Neglecting relationships or responding negatively to those closest friends and family members
  • Avoiding necessary obligations like work or school
  • Risk-taking tendencies to receive drugs or continue specific behaviors
  • Disregarding the adverse consequences of their actions
  • Change in sleep patterns that emerge in chronic fatigue
  • Increasingly secretive by lying about the amount of drugs used or time spent using

An increase in alienation will become evident over time. Individuals with addiction tend to keep company with others who support their habits. They could come up with excuses for their behavior when confronted.

Identifying Changes in Health

Another way to identify addiction is to focus on your friend or loved one’s physical and mental health. Whether the addiction is to behavior or drug, their health is virtually always declining.

Signs of addiction that cause changes in their health will include:

  • Memory loss 
  • Sudden fluctuation in weight
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Constant illness
  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Increased tolerance to drugs
  • Bad teeth, hair, skin, and nails 
  • Change in speech like slurred words 
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms like trembling, sweating, or vomiting

The following emotional and mental changes could also be signs of addiction:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Abrupt changes in mood

It’s crucial to eliminate any possible medical causes for an individual’s health decline. Keep in mind that addicts will usually downplay the seriousness of their situation. If they have no other evidence, there’s a possibility that an addiction is present.

What is Addiction?

Recognizing that someone you care about suffers from addiction can be more complicated than it seems. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) describes addiction as a chronic disease that affects the brain’s memory, motivation, and reward functions. Addicts will have cravings that are so severe that they’ll often ignore other responsibilities in their lives.

Common signs of addiction include:

  • Inability to discontinue substance use
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Disregarding risk factors
  • Enduring withdrawal when sober
  • Larger doses needed to feel the drug’s effects

The level of intensity for each addiction sign will depend on how long you’ve used a substance.

Healthy individuals can usually recognize destructive habits and drop them. This is not the case with addicts. Rather than acknowledge the addiction is present, they’ll discover ways to warrant and resume the behavior.

The first step in receiving help is to recognize the physical, mental, and emotional signs, like character shifts or changes in weight. If you or a loved one shows any signs of addiction, contact our team at Harmony Ridge for confidential treatment information.

Forms of Addiction

Addiction is generally linked to substance abuse, but there are also behavioral addictions like gambling that are quite as severe. Studies show that addiction happens when someone is consistently incapable of stopping a practice or using a substance. This is typically at the expense of their physical and mental health.

Drug addiction is a dependence on one or more of the following:

  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Inhalants
  • Illegal drugs
  • Medication

Studies also imply that behavioral addictions are as critical as substance addictions. Both forms occur in dependency and will have similarly negative outcomes. 

Some examples of behavioral addiction include:

signs of addiction
  • Shopping
  • Working
  • Gambling
  • Sex
  • Using the Internet 
  • Video games

Regardless of the addiction type, it’s crucial to acknowledge warning signs and ask for help if needed.

Most Common Substance Addictions 

Identifying the signs of addiction is essential in getting a loved one help, but knowing which substances carry the highest rate of addiction is just as vital. Even though there are legal substances sold in stores like alcohol and cigarettes, they do carry a high rate of addiction.

Some of the most common forms of addictive substances include:

Tobacco 

Nicotine addiction may not seem as dangerous as other addictions. Tobacco use is more deadly than all other addictive substances. An inability to quit smoking is a significant sign of addiction.

Alcohol 

Alcohol abuse has many adverse results. Along with deaths from alcohol overdose and liver disease, drunk driving claims thousands of lives each year.

Marijuana 

Marijuana legalization in the U.S. has made its use more socially acceptable. This trend can mislead users from marijuana’s addictive potential. Rates of marijuana addiction are increasing due to enhanced potency over the previous decade.

Painkillers 

Painkiller addiction can emerge from seemingly harmless amounts of use. When taking painkillers for an extended period, tolerance is built, and more painkillers are required to get the same results. That is the time when addiction may start to develop.

Cocaine

Although cocaine addiction rates in the U.S. have dropped in recent years, there are still more than 1 million Americans enduring addiction with half of them never receiving treatment. Crack cocaine, which is more potent than powder cocaine, is liable for countless crippling addictions.

Heroin

Heroin’s relentless withdrawal symptoms make overcoming heroin addiction a challenge. Treating heroin addiction requires a union of medications and therapy to help control withdrawal and cravings.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are prescribed as mood-regulating drugs to regulate conditions like stress and anxiety. These sedatives are risky due to their strong influence on the brain’s chemical composition. Withdrawals can be fatal without medical support throughout the detox process.

Stimulants

Stimulants are incredibly addictive, and intense withdrawal symptoms make quitting challenging. Stimulant abusers will build a tolerance instantly to the euphoric “high,” which could lead to increased use and danger of overdose.

Inhalants

Inhalant addiction is especially hazardous because inhalants are unstable toxic substances. Chemicals prevalent in inhalants can remain in the brain and body long after discontinuing use, making a complete recovery more complicated.

Sedatives

Millions of Americans are prescribed barbiturate sedatives for sleeping disorders. After continued use, prescription users build tolerance, which develops into addiction. Sleeping pills can create mind-altering effects that lead to persistent abuse.

The Long-Term Consequences of Addiction

signs of addiction
Uncontrolled consumption of alcohol – alcoholizm disease
  • Loss of job
  • Loss of parental rights
  • Trouble with the law
  • Eviction from residence
  • Reputation tarnished 
  • Contracting an infectious disease
  • Getting lower grades or dropping out of school 
  • Damaged relationships with family and friends 

In the more advanced stages of an addiction, adverse effects could have long-term or permanent consequences. Individuals with severe addiction issues will ignore, allow, or trivialize these consequences in favor of maintaining their substance abuse.

Similar events can also happen to people who don’t suffer from an addiction. But these consequences are more frequent when an addiction is present. Before addressing someone who has an addiction, determine if the problem is a consequence of an individual incident or a developing problem.

Necessary Steps Toward Recovery

Addictions will frequently influence multiple areas of an individual’s life. The most efficient forms of addiction treatment are comprehensive. They usually have various steps that fluctuate from patient to patient. These steps can involve detox, behavioral counseling, and aftercare follow-up.

Some ways to encourage a loved one’s recovery process include:

  • Presenting a sober and trigger-free environment
  • Communicating concern if there is a relapse
  • Staying connected by volunteering to attend meetings with them
  • Having a plan of immediate access to addiction treatment
  • Educating yourself about substance abuse and behavior dependency and treatment

Call Harmony Ridge Today

signs of addiction

Although substance addiction is treatable, an addict must aspire to change for recovery to be successful. When the signs of addiction become visible, it’s important to have immediate access to treatment. If you or someone you know has an addiction, contact our team at Harmony Ridge for confidential treatment information.