Addiction differs from person to person and the signs and symptoms can also vary depending on the substances a person may use. However, there are a number of indicators that could help with identifying a potential drug or alcohol addiction.
First off, let’s very briefly define addiction: addiction is the physical and psychological need to continue using a substance, despite its harmful or dangerous effects. Not all signs of addiction appear in every case, but here are some that appear often enough that they are worth noticing and responding to with treatment.
10 Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Drug or Alcohol Use and Addiction
- As the addiction develops, users may experience intense urges or cravings for drugs or alcohol.
- Physical dependence. As people grow accustomed to the presence and influence of the substance, physical dependence starts to develop. The physiological changes that occur leave people feeling badly or unable to function optimally when the drug is no longer in their system.
- Over time and with prolonged use, people can build a tolerance to the substance, so they need more of it to achieve the desired effects.
- When attempting to stop using abruptly of when weaning themselves off the substance over a period of time, people may experience withdrawal symptoms. The presence of these symptoms indicates a physiological dependence to the substance.
- Poor judgement. When someone is suffering from a substance addiction, they may engage in risky behavior to get more, such as stealing, lying, engaging in unsafe sexual activity, or crimes that could land them in jail.
- Drug-seeking. People may spend excessive amounts of time and energy in order to find and get their substance of choice.
- Financial trouble. People may spend large amounts of money and go outside their budgets to get drugs or alcohol.
- Neglecting responsibilities. Choosing to use or get substances over work or personal obligations is a classic sign of addiction.
- Developing unhealthy friendships. When people start using new substances, they may spend more time with others who have similar habits and who may encourage unhealthy habits.
- Alternatively, they may end up isolating themselves and hiding their substance abuse from friends and family. Some reasons for this can include perceived stigma or increased depression, anxiety, or paranoia as a result of the substance abuse.
Other signs that you may have a substance abuse problem include lying about how much you drink, using substances as a coping mechanism, extreme mood swings and irritability, feelings of guilt, and often promising to quit but never doing it.
Addiction is a complex problem that affects every aspect of your life. Overcoming it requires reaching out for help, making changes in your way of life, dealing with your problems, and relating to others. Recovery is within your reach, but don’t try to go through it alone, as it can be very easy to get discouraged. Whether you choose to go to rehab, get therapy, or rely on self-help programs, support is essential.