Who Answers?

Drug Addiction?

855 339 1112

What Are the Early Signs of a Drug Addiction?

Catching the signs of drug addiction early provides a better chance for effective intervention and treatment. It can help people live healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Navigation: Changes in Behavior, Physical Changes, Financial Problems, Changes in Social Circle, Withdrawal Symptoms, Seeking Help, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


Drug addiction is a chronic disease that can have devastating consequences on every aspect of a person’s life. Unfortunately, this serious and complex issue affects millions of people worldwide.

Substance use disorders can easily overwhelm someone with its physical, mental, social, and even financial effects. It can make a person feel isolated, shamed, and helpless. [1]

While this medical condition can be dangerous, recognizing the early signs of a drug addiction can help prevent it from spiraling out of control.

In our fast-paced world, the warning signs of substance abuse can go unnoticed. We usually focus on the common signs and symptoms like engaging in risky behavior, getting into legal trouble, or driving under the influence of drugs. [1]

But identifying other signs of drug addiction early allows for timely intervention and support. Keep in mind that addiction is a progressive condition that often worsens over time. Early detection enables addicted individuals to seek help before the problem becomes more entrenched and difficult to address.

In fact, addressing addiction in its early stages can lead to more successful outcomes in terms of treatment and recovery. It helps prevent the development of severe health issues, social isolation, and financial problems associated with prolonged substance abuse.

Moreover, early intervention allows for a more straightforward and less complicated recovery process. It can involve less intensive and invasive treatments compared to addressing long-standing addiction issues.

In this article, we will discuss the early signs of a drug addiction and how to seek help. We will be focusing on addiction symptoms related to substance abuse. When we say “addiction” it may sometimes refer to other kinds of compulsive behaviors like gambling or sex addiction withdrawal symptoms. But here we will focus on substance use disorders and their signs and symptoms. Let’s take a closer look.


Changes in Behavior

Catching the signs of drug addiction early provides a better chance for effective intervention and treatment. It can help people live healthier, more fulfilling lives.

One of the most common early signs of a drug addiction is a change in behavior. Friends and family members are often the first ones to spot these behavioral changes. But sometimes you can recognize these symptoms in yourself.

If you keep taking a prescription drug even though it’s no longer needed for a health problem, or if you develop tolerance for a certain substance, it can be a sign of substance abuse disorder. [2]

Some people feel weird when the drug wears off. They feel sick, shaky, or depressed. In severe cases, they may even have seizures. One clear indicator of an addiction is the inability to control your intake even when you are already suffering from its adverse effects. [2]

If you spend a lot of time thinking about the drug, then you may already be addicted.

Similarly, you may notice certain changes in a loved one’s behavior. This is because drugs can alter brain chemistry, leading to shifts in behavior that may be noticeable to others. Sudden and extreme fluctuations in mood can be a sign of drug addiction. Someone may become irritable, anxious, or depressed.

Addiction can lead to a decline in performance at work or school, neglect of personal and professional responsibilities, and an overall lack of motivation. The pursuit of the substance often becomes the top priority, overshadowing once-important aspects of life such as relationships, hobbies, and personal goals.

The addicted individual may also become more secretive about their activities, hiding their substance use from you and others.

Of course there’s also the tell-tale sign of substance abuse which is risk-taking behavior. Drug addiction can impair judgment and lead to risky behaviors that the person might not engage in under normal circumstances.

Observing these behavioral changes helps others identify potential drug addiction. This brings them that much closer to proper support and assistance.


Physical Changes

People generally take drugs to feel good. A lot of substances can cause euphoria, which helps people relax or just forget about their problems for a while. Some can even boost your energy levels or reduce your inhibitions. And then there are also those who abuse drugs to perform better in school, at work, or in sports. [3]

Regardless of the reason, whether it’s curiosity, peer pressure, or something else, drug addiction can cause significant physical health effects. Watch out for these physical changes if you think someone you love may be struggling with addition.

An addicted person may experience weight loss or gain. They may also have bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, and a constant runny nose. Some people exhibit a decline in personal hygiene. These physical changes can be a result of the drug’s effects on the body or from neglecting self-care.

Of course, some of the adverse effects of substance abuse are not immediately noticeable. Substance abuse can lead to organ damage and other long-term effects. Some drugs can increase heart rate and blood pressure, putting extra stress on the cardiovascular system. Over time, this can contribute to heart-related issues.

The liver is responsible for metabolizing many drugs. Chronic drug use, especially substances like alcohol and certain opioids, can lead to liver damage or failure.

Smoking drugs or inhaling certain substances can damage the respiratory system, leading to conditions like chronic bronchitis or lung damage. Drug use can also irritate the stomach lining, leading to issues such as nausea, vomiting, and digestive problems. Intravenous drug use can also increase the risk of infections and damage to blood vessels.

There are some drugs that can contribute to kidney damage or failure, impacting the body’s ability to regulate fluids and filter waste products.

Drug use, particularly substances like methamphetamine, can even contribute to dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. This is called “meth mouth”.

If your loved one becomes physically ill or displays noticeable changes in their health, hygiene, or appearance, it may be a sign of substance abuse.

Keep in mind that these physical changes can vary depending on the type of drug, the duration of use, and other individual factors. Seeking professional help and treatment is crucial for individuals struggling with drug addiction to address both the physical and psychological aspects of the condition.

Financial Problems

As drug addiction progresses, it can become expensive to maintain. Addicted people may start to experience financial problems. They may borrow money from friends and family, sell their personal belongings, or even resort to theft.

Their addiction will have them prioritizing over paying bills or buying necessities, leading to financial instability.

Drug addiction can lead to financial problems for a variety of reasons. First, the cost of purchasing drugs can be significant and can quickly add up, especially if the addiction becomes more severe over time. People may end up spending a large portion of their income to support their habit.

Additionally, drug addiction can negatively impact one’s ability to maintain employment. The physical and mental effects of drug use can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and impaired job performance. This, in turn, can result in job loss or difficulty finding and keeping steady employment.

If someone ends up incarcerated due to drug-related offenses, they may lose their job and face additional challenges in finding employment after release.

It’s also worth noting that drug and alcohol addiction are most costly for the poor. Some families end up spending half or more of their monthly income on illicit substances. This can cause more financial problems in the future. [4]

Because substance abuse is often used as a means of escapism, addiction is commonly associated with poverty. Drugs can provide instant gratification, which is something people look for when they are living paycheck to paycheck. [4]

Watch out for signs of financial strain if you think your loved one is struggling with addiction.

Changes in Social Circle

Addiction has an impact on a person’s social life as well. Those who are struggling with drug addiction may start to distance themselves from their usual social circle. They may instead surround themselves with others who also use drugs.

Most of the time, people will start to engage in risky behaviors with these new acquaintances, such as driving under the influence or participating in illegal activities.

Sometimes people change their social circle because they are afraid of being judged for their substance abuse. They look for people who will enable or tolerate their behavior. They may seek out new social circles that are more accepting or supportive of their substance use.

On the flip side, individuals who are committed to their own well-being may choose to distance themselves from friends engaging in destructive behavior.

When it comes to the social effects of addiction, there is a complex interplay of societal attitudes, individual choices, and the impact of addiction on behavior. The desire for understanding and support can lead people to gravitate towards those who share similar experiences, for better or worse.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal occurs when an addicted person, specifically a drug dependent individual, suddenly stops taking drugs or reduces their intake. When a person is physically dependent on opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol, it means that their body has adapted to the constant presence of the substance. The chemical imbalance caused by the cessation of intake makes the person uncomfortable. This often leads to relapse. [5]

Symptoms of withdrawal may range from mild to life-threatening. Different drugs may cause different withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms, their severity, and their duration may be influenced by factors like the person’s age, health condition, mental state, etc. [5]

Withdrawal symptoms can also be influenced by the type of substance and how long it was used for.

When an individual becomes physically dependent on a drug, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using it. These symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, tremors, and anxiety. In the case of sexual addiction, withdrawal symptoms may include irritability, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating.

As for drug withdrawal symptoms, here are some common symptoms to watch out for:

Anxiety and Depression: Feelings of unease, nervousness, and sadness are common during withdrawal.

Irritability: Mood swings and irritability are often experienced as the body adjusts to the absence of the drug.

Fatigue: Many people feel extremely tired and lethargic during withdrawal.

Insomnia or Hypersomnia: Sleep disturbances are common, ranging from difficulty falling asleep to excessive sleeping.

Nausea and Vomiting: Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting can occur.

Muscle Aches and Pains: Physical discomfort, including muscle aches and joint pain, is common.

Sweating and Chills: Fluctuations in body temperature, sweating, and chills are typical withdrawal symptoms.

Headaches: Intense headaches are a frequent complaint during withdrawal.

Cravings: Strong urges or cravings for the drug can be challenging to manage.

Increased Heart Rate: Some people experience a rapid heart rate or palpitations.

It’s crucial to note that withdrawal symptoms can be severe and, in some cases, may require medical supervision. Seeking professional help and support during the withdrawal process is recommended to ensure a safer and more comfortable experience.

Seeking Help

Spotting the early signs of addiction is important. But once you are aware of the problem, it’s important to take the next step: seeking help.

Seeking treatment for drug addiction is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, it can save lives. Drug addiction can have serious health consequences, and getting professional help can address both the physical and psychological aspects of the addiction.

Treatment also offers a chance for individuals to regain control of their lives. Addiction often leads to a loss of relationships, employment, and overall stability. Seeking treatment provides an opportunity to rebuild these aspects of life and work towards a healthier and more fulfilling future.

Overcoming drug addiction is not just about stopping drug use; it’s about creating lasting change. Treatment equips patients with the tools and coping mechanisms needed to maintain sobriety in the long term. It’s a holistic approach that considers not only the addiction itself but also the underlying factors contributing to it.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting these early signs of drug addiction, it is crucial to seek help as soon as possible. The longer an addiction goes untreated, the more difficult it can be to overcome.

Look for a rehab near you today to learn more about the available treatment options like therapy, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment. Get started on the road to recovery today.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.


author avatar
Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

Addiction Treatment Centers For
Drugs, Alcohol and Prescription Drug Abuse

Call Now