The signs and symptoms of a serious addiction, what to look for, and how to get help. Warning Signs
Drugs, alcohol, or smoking are considered a substance addiction when several signs and symptoms occur. You may be able to notice some of these symptoms yourself, or have them recognized by a friend, family member, or doctor.
When a person continues to use one or more of these substances despite the fact that it is causing harm, they have a substance dependence. A person with an addiction may want to quit and will even make repeated attempts to do so, but without any success.
Every person’s addiction will be different. Factors such as upbringing, genetics, background, and what particular substances are being used make each person’s addiction unique and will produce different symptoms. Read on for several of the signs and symptoms that point to a substance addiction.
1. Not being able to stop.
Despite making attempts and having the intention to stop, a person with an addiction will not be able to do so. Having made one or more serious attempts to quit using drugs, alcohol, or nicotine unsuccessfully points to a serious addiction.
2. Having withdrawal symptoms.
These are the physical symptoms that occur when attempting to use less or quit altogether. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and can even be life threatening. It all depends on the severity of the addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can include mood swings, depression, anger, insomnia, digestive problems, trembling, seizures, hallucinations, and in some cases death.
3. Continuing to use, even when it causes health problems.
An addict will continue to use even as it begins taking a toll on their physical health. An example of this would be a smoker who keeps smoking even though they develop a heart or lung condition.
4. Relationships begin to suffer.
Friends, family, and partners begin to notice a difference in your behavior, or you begin to neglect your relationships with others. Relationships may begin to revolve around the use of drugs or alcohol only, so that anyone not involved in those activities drops out of your life.
Other times, an addict or alcoholic will shut themselves off completely from social activities and relationships as their addiction grows and consumes all areas of their life.
5. Risky behavior.
As an addiction grows stronger, the need to maintain an adequate supply of a substance becomes the main focus of an addict’s life. This desperation can lead an addict to participation in risky or life threatening behaviors, such as stealing, prostitution, driving under the influence, or associating with criminals.
An addiction will often cause someone to lose their good judgement and place them in dangerous situations or in contact with dangerous people.
6. Taking financial risks.
As an addiction or drinking problem grows, a person can begin to use any available financial resources to maintain a steady supply of their drink or drug of choice. Any money that comes in will go toward maintaining that supply. Eventually, friends or family will get hit up for loans, valuable items are pawned off, and the addict finds themselves depleted of all resources.
7. Overdoses and blackouts.
As the addiction progresses, larger quantities of drugs or alcohol are consumed in order to maintain the desired high. When blackouts become common or an overdose occurs, that is a sure sign an addiction has become serious.
When directly asked about their drug or alcohol use, an addict will adamantly deny that they have a problem. The addict may not even be aware that they have developed a problem, or simply refuse to acknowledge that there even is one.