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Signs of Addiction

How can you tell if someone else is addicted? Are there signs of addiction that you can be aware of? What is the difference between “addicted” and “dependent”?

The word “Addiction” is commonly used whenever someone “has to have it” but the reasons behind why someone “has to have it” is the difference between Dependence and actual Addiction.

A physical dependence means that the body has grown so used to a substance that whenever the person tries to stop taking it, the body goes into withdrawal and painful physical symptoms can occur. The withdrawal from some drug dependencies can be life-threatening and should be overseen by medical professionals at an in-patient medical detox facility. Once the person is safely detoxed and their bodies are no longer dependent on the drug, they can safely return home and find alternate methods of dealing with the physical reasons they needed to take the drug in the first place.

Addiction, however, is more than a physical dependency. It has to do with how the drugs or alcohol make someone feel mentally and/or emotionally. Addiction can occur even when there is no real physical dependence.

The Signs of Addiction

Because addiction has to do with mental attitudes that no one but the person themselves can actually know for sure, friends and family can only make an informed guess as to whether someone is addicted. For the person themselves, signs of addiction include:

  • They are craving the substance.
  • They continue taking a drug long after it’s no longer needed for a physical problem.
  • They can’t stop themselves from taking the drug, even when they want to.
  • They need to take larger doses in order to achieve the same feelings.
  • They spend a lot of time thinking about the drug, when they’ll take it and how it will make them feel.
  • They spend a great deal of time obtaining, using and recovering from the drug.
  • They have lost interest in things they once liked to do.
  • They hide the drug use and the effect it is having on them from others.
  • They borrow or steal money to pay for drugs.
  • They continue to use despite ongoing social or relationship problems caused or worsened by use.

If the person themselves can see they are doing these things, they know they are addicted and now is the time to do something about it.

For Friends and Family: Know the Signs

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the signs of addiction embrace many aspects of someone’s life. Here are some of the ways you can tell if someone is abusing drugs or alcohol.

The physical and health warning signs of drug abuse can include:

  • Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.
  • Injuries/accidents and the person won’t or can’t tell you how they got hurt.
  • Deterioration in physical appearance or personal grooming.
  • Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
  • Frequent nosebleeds–could be related to snorted drugs (meth or cocaine).
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Seizures without a history of epilepsy.

The mental or emotional warning signs of drug addiction include:

  • Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appearing lethargic or “spaced out.”
  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude.
  • Sudden mood changes, angry outbursts, irritability, or laughing at nothing.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
  • Appearing withdrawn, fearful, anxious or paranoid, with no apparent reason.

The behavioral signs of drug addiction include:

  • Drop in attendance and/or performance at school or work.
  • Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.
  • Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
  • Loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise.
  • Unusual or unexplained need for money or financial problems; borrowing or stealing; missing money or valuables.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities).
  • Silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.

Drug or alcohol abuse does not always result in drug addiction, however, the abuse itself can result in ruined lives, emotionally, financially, and physically.

If you are observing the above in a friend or loved one, contact us at Addiction Help Services at 855-889-0555 to determine the best way to help. There are many alternatives and we will gladly help you determine which is best for the situation.