The Signs of Drug Addiction

Symptoms of drug abuse and addiction may be hard to identify without knowing the signs of addiction. Substance use disorders could change the way people act, look and feel. Substance abuse symptoms might be behavioral, physical, and psychological.

Luckily for concerned loved ones, there are numerous recognizable characteristics of addiction.

Several types of drug addictions share the same symptoms and signs. If someone can identify the signs and symptoms of drug addiction, they might help a family member or friend who struggles with this illness.

A hand grasping a syringe demonstrates the signs of drug addiction

What Are the Signs of Addiction?

Drug addiction is the physical and psychological desire to keep using a substance, despite its lethal effects. It is critical to bear in mind that these signs do not show in each case or for every drug addiction. These signs emerge frequently enough that they are worth observing and reacting to with the proper treatment.

Warning Signs of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction frequently begins with experimental substance use in social settings.

While a person can abuse practically any substance, some drugs have a greater risk of addiction and dependency than others. It is critical to identify substance abuse early on, so intervention might happen before addiction takes hold.

It could be hard to tell whether someone struggles with drug addiction. Though, in some instances, there are many significant warning signs of this sickness. Typical warning signs of addiction could be physical, such as lack of personal hygiene, change in appearance and behavior, disregard for priorities, development of a mental illness, or frequent mood swings.

Physical Signs

Physical signs of drug addiction might manifest during an overdose, as side effects of use, or as a result of withdrawal. It can be challenging for someone to identify the cause of the physical signs, but severe effects will necessitate urgent medical treatment. Additionally, it is vital to know that withdrawal symptoms occur when the body adapts to the absence of the usual quantities of a drug. It is a natural process, but withdrawal could be deathly.

The typical physical signs of addiction are:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in weight
  • Lack of physical coordination
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Chemical odor on clothes or breath
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Frequent runny nose
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Poor hygiene
  • Skin marks
  • Irregular sleeping patterns

Spotting signs of drug abuse and addiction is the first step to getting help for yourself or someone you love. For this reason, it is critical to recognize the signs of addiction. There are physical, behavioral, and psychological traits of addiction.

Behavioral Signs

Behavioral signs entail a person’s external relations with the world, while physical symptoms convey the body’s side effects because of drugs in the system.

In addition to changes in their physical appearance, an individual who abuses alcohol or drugs might act like a different person. There are numerous behavioral signs as there are physical symptoms of drug abuse and addiction. No matter the drug, from abusing cocaine to kratom addiction, regular use causes changes in behavior. Some of the most critical include:

  • Changes in hobbies or activities
  • Self-isolation
  • Diminished participation in family activities
  • Impaired performance at school or work
  • Constant dishonesty, lying, or deception
  • Legal problems
  • Financial issues
  • Changes in social circles
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Secretive behavior


Psychological Signs

When a person misuses alcohol or drugs, they might act and look in unusual ways. They might also feel and think another way than they typically do. Psychological signs and symptoms of drug abuse and addiction could include changes in an individual’s attitude, thought patterns, priorities, and beliefs. Some of the usual psychological signs of alcohol and drug are:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Obsessive, paranoid thoughts
  • Poor self-image
  • Dismal attitude or outlook toward life
  • Withdrawing emotionally from loved ones
  • Changes in personality
  • Feelings of disinterest and unconcern


Financial Problems

Drug addictions could be very pricey, based on the drug. An individual might constantly ask to borrow money from loved ones or pawn their possessions to sustain their drug addiction. If someone does not get help for their drug use, they risk severe financial hardship and could end up in bankruptcy.

An array of drugs and alcohol show the signs of addiction in terms of alcohol and substances

Drug Addiction Treatment Options

Alcohol and drug addiction are treatable diseases in outpatient facilities, full-service rehab centers, and detox clinics. However, the quality of treatment could vastly differ among these places.

The model treatment for substance abuse disorders entails a combination of clinical care and individual counseling, which are chief components in many rehab programs. These programs include:

  • Inpatient (residential)
  • Medically assisted detox
  • Outpatient
  • Intensive outpatient
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Aftercare


Signs of Intoxication, by Specific Drug


  • Depressants (tranquilizers and barbiturates) – Sleepiness, clumsiness; slurred speech; poor judgment; appears drunk as if from alcohol but without the associated odor of liquor; trouble concentrating; contracted pupils.
  • Marijuana – Loud talking and inappropriate laughing; red, glassy eyes; weight loss or gain; loss of motivation and interest
  • Alcohol – Slurred speech; sleepiness; clumsiness; difficulty walking; poor judgment; dilated pupils
  • Cocaine, Crack, Meth, and Other Stimulants – Euphoria; hyperactivity; anxiety; weight loss; irritability; excessive talking; depression; excessive sleeping at odd times; no eating or sleeping; dilated pupils; dry mouth and nose
  • Heroin – Twitching; coughing; sweating; needle marks; sleeping at odd times; vomiting; sniffling; loss of appetite; contracted pupils
  • Inhalants (Vapors, glues, and aerosols) – Nausea and headaches; impaired vision; watery eyes; runny nose; rashes around the mouth and nose; irritability; the appearance of intoxication; drowsiness; poor muscle control; anxiety


Who Is at Risk?

Drug addiction symptoms do not discriminate. Women, children, men, young and old can become drug addicts. Substance abuse crosses socioeconomic lines. Though, there are specific risk factors that raise a person’s odds of developing an addiction.


There is a genetic part to drug addiction. Research has found that individuals with at least one close relative with a drug problem are at greater risk of drug addiction.


Environment refers to either their family of origin or the community in which someone lives. People in an environment where active drug users are present tend to be at a greater risk of following the same pattern.


Living in poverty contributes to a more significant risk of developing an addiction. People in a lower economic bracket do not have a large margin for error as more affluent individuals. Though an individual in the upper or middle class could quickly get into therapy and rehabilitation, someone in poverty cannot.


Individuals who suffer from mental health issues are at a higher risk of becoming addicted. Mental health disorders could make a person self-medicate. Self-medication could worsen mental health issues.

Of all risk factors, hereditary drug use is the most common contributing factor in developing a drug use disorder.

Can Drug Addiction Symptoms Lead to Violence?

In some instances, yes. Drug abuse and addiction are violence against one’s own body. Some drugs could make users aggressive toward others. PCP and meth are famous for creating aggression in users.

Also, driving while impaired could create severe damage and obstruction on the street. You risk harming other drivers and pedestrians. In 2015, a vast number of traffic deaths were because of drug usage.

A person might be successful in disguising their problem at first until drug abuse and addiction symptoms begin to develop. The sooner they receive treatment, the less likely they will encounter severe health and legal issues due to drug addiction.

Drug Addiction Treatment Options

A man being helped in a group setting for substance abuse treatment

When some individuals fight an addiction, they might deny that there is something wrong. Others might be unwilling to go into treatment due to cost, no support, or fear.

Though they eventually get over any reservations and want to get treatment, they must pick between an inpatient or outpatient program.

If a parent suspects their son or daughter is using drugs, swift intervention is crucial. Parents could get assistance from primary care physicians, guidance counselors, and drug abuse treatment providers.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment typically entails some therapy at a center or clinic that lets you go home after getting treatment. Outpatient treatment gives you the flexibility to handle your other responsibilities while still going for alcohol or drug treatment.

The levels of intensity of the different outpatient treatment approaches will differ. Though, they frequently include therapeutic interventions like residential or inpatient programs:

  • Group therapy
  • Medication management
  • A detoxification period
  • Individual therapy
  • Relapse prevention education
  • Ongoing support after treatment


Inpatient Treatment

Residential or inpatient treatment obliges patients to reside at the treatment facility for the length of their treatment. It is typically the preferred choice for individuals who want to remove themselves from their current temptations and focus entirely on getting sober with no distractions.

Inpatient drug rehab provides access to medical care and medical supervision, if necessary. It offers a setting where others dealing with similar struggles can share their experiences, give their support, and offer hope. Inpatient treatment often includes:

  • Supervised detox
  • Support of other patients at various stages of recovery
  • A safe recovery setting
  • Medically assisted treatment.
  • Family weekends
  • Therapeutic activities, like meditation, yoga, and exercise classes
  • Outings to the movies, beach, or restaurants
  • Group and individual therapies
  • Family therapy

Inpatient programs differ by treatment center and might include numerous other features, from yoga and meditation to life skills training. If you feel you (or a loved one) might benefit from addiction treatment, or just want to speak about the available options, please reach out to our dedicated team at Find Addiction Rehabs. We have helped thousands of people suffering from addiction into recovery, and look forward to helping you find the best treatment to fit your needs!

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