Who Answers?

Signs of Addiction

855 339 1112

Early Signs of Addiction

Addiction not only affects the person but also the people around them. So if you have a loved one whom you suspect to be developing it, you may want to look for the early warning signs of addiction.

What is Drug Addiction?, Recognizing the Early Signs of Addiction, Physical Warning Signs of Substance Use Disorder, Psychological Warning Signs of Substance Abuse, Who Are at Risk of Drug Abuse and Addiction?, Rehab is Your Best Chance


The use of prescription drugs and recreational drugs, as well as the overconsumption of alcohol, can all lead to substance use issues. This in turn puts the person at risk of developing an addiction, which is a serious medical condition that overwhelms an individual with severe physical and mental health effects.

Addiction not only affects the person but also the people around them. So if you have a loved one whom you suspect to be developing it, you may want to look for the early warning signs of addiction.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of addiction will help you help your loved one. Unfortunately, this is a very common problem. In fact, one in ten people in the US over the age of twelve is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction. Even casual substance use can lead to an addiction if left unaddressed. Over time, the effects on the person’s mind and body could become more devastating.

Let’s take a closer look at the early warning signs of addiction so you can catch it before it develops into something more dangerous.



What is Drug Addiction?


First, let’s look into the condition itself. To understand the signs and symptoms, you have to know what condition you are dealing with.

Addiction is not a moral failure or a lack of willpower. A person who is addicted cannot just quit any time they want. They are physically incapable of it. Addiction even changes the way the brain operates, making it so the person keeps on seeking out the drug. It prevents them from making good decisions.

Addiction is characterized by the compulsive use of a certain substance even if the user is already struggling with its adverse health effects. They will keep taking the drug no matter the consequences.

This condition can easily overwhelm a person. It makes them feel hopeless and powerless. It affects their mind and body, but it also affects the people around them, straining their relationships and distancing them from their loved ones.

Addiction often comes with drug dependence. If a person is physically dependent on a substance, it means their body can no longer function normally without it. If they try to quit, they will experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Drug or alcohol abuse can both lead to addiction and dependence. For those who have been taking drugs or alcohol for a long time, quitting cold turkey may be dangerous. What you need is assistance from professional health care providers who can slowly lower your drug intake while managing your withdrawal symptoms. This process is known as medical detox. It lessens the impact of the negative consequences of drug addiction and dependence, helping the person get sober again.

But addiction treatment is not complete without behavioral therapy and counseling, which will address the addictive behavior and the harmful thoughts that keep the person addicted to these dangerous substances.

Unfortunately, not everyone with an addiction actually seeks help from a mental health professional or a rehab facility. Some of them are in denial about their situation, while others are simply unaware of the negative effects of their substance use disorder.

By recognizing the signs of addiction, you can help them come to the right conclusion and seek help for themselves.


Recognizing the Early Signs of Addiction

When looking for the signs of addiction, you have to keep an open mind. Not every addiction looks the same. The experience can be different even for two individuals who have been using the same type of drug. Addiction affects everyone differently.

That said, family members are often the ones to notice the early warning signs because they know what ordinary behavior looks like for the individual. They can see if something is off about the person’s behavior. They can tell if someone is abusing a highly addictive drug based on how they are acting.

Drug abuse can start because of peer pressure, with the person taking drugs in social settings for recreational purposes. In other cases, people get hooked on their prescription medication and end up getting addicted anyway. Some people abuse their medications thinking it is safer to do so because it was given to them by a doctor. Others drink or use drugs to cope with stress at work or to just relax after a long day.

Whether it’s recreational drug use or prescription drug misuse, the risk of addiction remains the same. Here are some of the signs and symptoms that you should watch out for if you want to catch addiction early on and help your loved one get started on the road to recovery as soon as possible.

Physical Warning Signs of Substance Use Disorder

First you can look into the physical signs of substance abuse. There may be changes in their appearance or personal grooming habits, which you may immediately notice. Look for signs such as bloodshot eyes, unusual odors, impaired coordination, or pupils larger or smaller than usual.

As the addiction progresses, they may exhibit changes in their sleeping patterns and appetite. This may cause sudden weight loss or weight gain, as well as changes in their physical appearance, speech patterns, or energy levels.

Speaking of energy levels, certain drugs can make a person more or less energetic depending on what substance they took. If they took an upper, they will display unusual amounts of energy. They will be hyped up, energetic, or agitated. Adderall and Ritalin are examples of drugs that are uppers. They are taken for the purpose of getting an extra boost in energy.

On the contrary, you have downers that have the opposite effect. Opioids and heroin can make a person sleepy, slow, fatigued, or generally lethargic. They may even fall asleep randomly.

Since some drugs can also affect a person’s speech, watch for symptoms like speaking rapidly or repetitively. The person may appear drunk even if they do not smell like alcohol.

The person may also display symptoms like runny nose and sniffling even without a cold or a virus. This may be an indicator of drug abuse since some drugs are snorted or smoked.

Psychological Warning Signs of Substance Abuse

The effects of substance use disorder are not only physical. You will also notice certain behavioral signs as well. For example, their work or school performance may suddenly drop. They may change their friends, hobbies, and hangouts. They may even become more secretive as they try to hide their substance use from their loved ones.

Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors may be your first signal that something is wrong. They may lie about where they are spending their time or who they are hanging out with. They may even become irritable, angry, or have sudden mood swings if you ask them

Also for no reason, they may become anxious, fearful, or paranoid. They will even lose interest in things they used to enjoy. As they become more and more addicted, they will start to prioritize the drug or the drink more than anything else. They will spend their days thinking about, seeking out, using, and recovering from the effects of the drug. This cycle continues until their health deteriorates and their life has spiraled completely out of control.

It’s no surprise that they will begin to miss work, school, or other important events. They will start neglecting their responsibilities. You may notice them isolating themselves from their usual social circle.

Other telltale signs include having financial problems, getting into legal trouble, getting into accidents, owning drug paraphernalia, getting into fights with other people, and sudden, drastic lifestyle changes.

It is common for addicted individuals to have co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, etc. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provides a formal classification of mental health disorders and symptoms. This may be a good resource if you want to look more into this.

When a person struggling with addiction also has a mental health disorder, this is called a dual diagnosis. It can be hard to recognize a dual diagnosis without a professional opinion, however. But different mental illnesses produce different symptoms that may also affect the person’s behavior.

Recognizing that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol is the first step towards long-lasting recovery. Some people prefer to live in denial, ashamed of their condition or afraid of going through treatment. Yes, addiction treatment is a long and difficult process. But recognizing these warning signs early on can help you get the treatment you need before it progresses into something that is harder to deal with.

There is always hope for someone who is dealing with an addiction. Treatment is available. If your loved one denies their condition, you may have to stage an intervention to help them face the truth.

Who Are at Risk of Drug Abuse and Addiction?

The short answer is everyone. Anyone can develop an addiction regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, social status, etc. There is no way to predict who is going to develop an addiction. But some people are more likely than others to get it.

The more risk factors a person is exposed to, the more likely it is that they will develop an addiction at some point in their lifetime. This does not guarantee that they will become addicted, but it means they are at greater risk of addiction.

For example, there is a huge genetic factor to consider. Studies have shown that people with at least one close relative with an addiction are at greater risk of developing drug addiction themselves. A family history of addiction is considered a risk factor for addiction.

But there are also environmental factors that come into play. People who are raised in toxic living environments or environments that have a high drug exposure are at risk of developing substance use disorder and subsequently, addiction. The same can be said for people who grew up in or living in poverty. Wealthier individuals tend to have a larger margin for error when it comes to addiction. Meanwhile people in lower socioeconomic brackets are exposed to greater addiction risk.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction, look out for the early warning signs and then start looking into treatment options. Do not be afraid to seek the help you need. Look for a rehab near you today and get started on the road to recovery.


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