Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

When you are concerned about a loved one’s behavior and suspect that they might be dependent on drugs or alcohol, it is important to learn the signs that indicate an addiction. If you are able to identify their problem early enough and confront them or stage an intervention then you can prevent the kind of long term physical and mental health problems that are associated with years of substance abuse. You need to be aware of some of the more subtle signs of addiction because people with substance abuse problems become very adept at hiding and lying about their behavior. Once you know for sure that someone is dealing with an addiction you can begin the steps toward getting them into treatment.

Addiction can lead to some physical changes that could be very noticeable to the people that are closest to the individual. Close friends or family members might begin to notice the physical changes that can develop gradually the more their loved one engages in substance abuse.

Physical Signs of Addiction

  • Signs like blood shot eyes, dilated pupils, or a lack of personal hygiene and concern about their appearance.
  • A sudden change in their weight such as becoming dramatically thinner could be a sign of substance abuse as certain stimulants can reduce appetite. They could also experience sudden weight gain from excessive alcohol consumption or from taking a drug that increases appetite.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns causing them to be tired all the time due to insomnia or sleeping excessively throughout the day.
  • Problems with coordination such as slurred speech, tremors or clumsiness as well as unusual smells from their breath, body or clothing could also indicate a problem with substance abuse.

When a person is suffering from an addiction their behavior can also change drastically and they might do things that are very uncharacteristic of their normal personality. If your loved one is suddenly acting very differently, take the time to see if you notice any of the behavioral symptoms of addictions.

Behavior Changes in Addiction

  • A sudden drop in attendance at work or school or a change in the quality of their performance due to preoccupation with drugs.
  • Suddenly asking for money on a regular basis when it was never an issue in the past. They might try to borrow or even steal money to make up for their financial problems.
  • A change in their group of friends as well as the type of places they go or hobbies they normally are interested in.
  • Frequently getting into trouble with problems like fights, accidents and other illegal activities. Even a previously well-behaved friend or family member could end up getting arrested when they are struggling with an addiction.

People with substance abuse problems experience a lot of physical and behavioral changes but they can also be dealing with different emotional issues too. They could have mood swings, sudden irritability, or angry outbursts. Other people with addiction might be more lethargic, unmotivated or “spaced out” more often than they ever have. Any of these shifts in physical appearance, mood or behavior could be an indication that your loved one is becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol. Knowing the signs and symptoms of addiction can help you feel more confident in approaching the person. When you are more informed about the signs you can express your concern about specific changes and patterns that you feel are suspicious. You can also consult other family members and friends to see if they have noticed the same things you are worried about and discuss finding treatment for your loved one.