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Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction can be difficult to recognize in a loved one. The most blatant sign is when a person seems to feel a compulsion to drink or use drugs, especially if he or she cannot control how much or how often he or she consumes a substance.

However, many people with addiction or abuse problems are adept at hiding these behaviors, making it more difficult to recognize when a person has a problem. Many of the signs and symptoms of addiction are similar regardless of the substance abused, although some substances cause unique physical effects that signal a person might have a problem.

Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers (DTRC) provides high-quality treatment for substance abuse and addiction, in addition to mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. Call our Admissions team at (312) 300-6661 to discuss your concerns.

Physical Signs of Alcohol and Drug Addiction

The major physical signs of addiction are tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance is when a person needs to consume larger amounts of a substance in order to achieve the same effect because the body has adjusted to the substance. Withdrawal occurs when a person with a physical dependence on alcohol or drugs stops using the substance. Drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms include nausea, shakiness or trembling, irritability, and anxiety or depression.

There are other physical symptoms of addiction that a person might exhibit. A person might have seizures without a medical reason, such as a history of epilepsy. He or she might have a deteriorating personal appearance and be negligent about personal hygiene and grooming. Certain substances will cause a person’s eyes to be red or bloodshot, and the pupils might also be dilated. Recurrent bloody noses, especially if a person has never experienced them before, could be a sign of snorting drugs, while needle marks could be signs of injecting drugs. Any changes in a person’s appetite or sleep patterns, as well as unexplained rapid weight loss or gain, could be due to substance abuse. Furthermore, if a person has bruises or other signs of injury, but does not remember what happened or does not want to talk about it, this may be a sign of injury or falls due to his or her addiction or substance abuse.

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

One of the most significant behavioral alcohol or drug addiction symptoms is when a person inexplicably no longer enjoys or participates in his or her favorite activities. A person with a drug or alcohol problem might also start to have attendance problems at work or school. Additionally, if a person starts to create excuses to avoid going to school, work or social functions in order to drink or use drugs, then he or she has a problem. He or she might also have unexplained financial problems, and might start stealing money or valuables to pay for a drug habit. An addict might also have unexplained changes in mood and behavior, especially becoming more silent and withdrawn, and might develop problems in his or her relationships. A person with a drug or alcohol problem might develop new friendships that seem potentially dangerous. It is not uncommon for someone with a drug or alcohol problem to get into fights or have problems with the law. An addict might also hoard or stash the substance to ensure there will always be enough.

Psychological Drug Addiction or Alcoholism Symptoms

Drug and alcohol abuse or addiction alters a person’s brain chemistry and psyche, which can be revealed through emotional, mood, and personality changes. Episodes of uncharacteristic behavior might signal that a person has developed a drug or alcohol problem. A person might have sudden mood changes, quickly going from sad to happy or calm to angry. A person might also start having periods of hyperactivity, agitation, or irritability. An addict might seem to be able to get things done quickly with excess energy, or he or she might have a lack of motivation or be unable to focus. A person with a problem might also start displaying paranoid behavior, or be fearful or anxious for no reason. Any sudden unexplained change in a person’s attitude or personality should also be seen as a warning sign that something is going on.

Drug Specific Signs of Addiction

Each-type of substance has unique symptoms of its use. For example, opiates addiction symptoms will appear differently than signs of alcohol or marijuana addiction. The following list provides the most commonly abused drugs with the associated signs of abuse.

  • Marijuana: increased appetite, lack of motivation or interest, weight loss or gain, glassy or red eyes, talking loudly, laughing inappropriately, sleepiness
  • Depressants (such as Valium, GHB, Xanax): acting drunk-like, problems concentrating, contracted pupils, sleepiness, slurred speech, poor judgment, clumsy
  • Stimulants (such as cocaine, crystal meth, amphetamines): hyperactive, dilated pupils, irritable, anxious, feelings of euphoria, talking excessively, depression, sleeping at odd times, going for long periods without food or sleep, weight loss, dry mouth and nose
  • Inhalants (such as aerosols, vapors, glues): impaired vision, watery eyes, problems with memory or thoughts, nausea, headaches, drowsy, lack of muscle control, appetite changes, anxiety, irritability, secretions from the nose, rashes around the nose or mouth area, excess amount of aerosol cans in the trash
  • Hallucinogens (PCP, LSD): bizarre and irrational behavior, dilated pupils, hallucinations, mood swings, confusion, slurred speech, isolation, paranoia
  • Heroin: Pupils contract or do not respond to light, needle marks, odd sleep patterns, vomiting, sniffling, twitching, sweating, coughing, lack of appetite

Co-Occurring Conditions

Some of these signs, especially the behavioral or psychological signs, could be due to a mental health problem rather than a substance abuse or addiction problems. These problems likewise need to be addressed and the proper treatment provided. If you recognize any of these signs in a person, you should seek help to find the underlying cause.

Addiction also has a high rate of comorbidity with other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Even if a person is not physically dependent upon a substance, he or she might be abusing it due to an underlying mental health issue, making it difficult for him or her to stop using. It is important to get help for all co-occurring or underlying issues to stop a person from developing further problems. Dual diagnosis treatment, which is a specialized treatment that treats all co-occurring conditions concurrently, is the best way to help a person overcome a drug or alcohol problem and reduce the risk of relapse.

Addiction and Dual Diagnosis Treatment at DTRC

Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers (DTRC) is a true dual diagnosis facility, which means we can treat addiction and any co-occurring condition. We are dually licensed to treat addiction and mental health disorders. Our addiction, mental health and dual diagnosis programs treat our patients holistically, utilizing expressive and experiential treatment modalities including individual and group psychotherapy and complementary alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, equine therapy, music therapy, and art therapy. You can learn more about our programs by calling our Admissions team at (312) 300-6661.

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