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How to Tell if You Are Addicted to Drugs

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Are You Addicted to Drugs?

Addiction is a serious medical condition that is characterized by the inability to quit a certain substance, whether it is drugs or alcohol.

Warning Signs of Addiction, Do I Have a Drug Addiction?, How Does Addiction Start?, What to Do if someone is Addicted, Rehab is Your Best Chance

Addiction is a serious medical condition that is characterized by the inability to quit a certain substance, whether it is drugs or alcohol. If you have been abusing a particular substance and you keep on taking it even when you are already struggling with its adverse effects—that is a sign of addiction. You need to seek medical help and receive proper care from an addiction treatment program or rehab.

That said it’s not always easy to recognize the signs of addiction. It can be challenging to know if someone is addicted to drugs. Knowing the warning signs of addiction can help you identify the problem so that you or your loved one can get the treatment they need.

The thing about addiction is that it prevents people from wanting to seek help. Drugs and alcohol can bring feelings of pleasure and euphoria, which keeps the person hooked.

Eventually, they may develop dependence which means that their body has already adjusted to the constant presence of the substance. They will begin to feel like they can’t function normally or feel normal without taking the substance. If they do attempt to quit, they experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms. More often than not, this leads to relapse.

Addiction has a physical and psychological effect on a person. It can affect their health and change their behavior. If you think someone you care about may be addicted to alcohol or a particular drug, watch out for the signs and symptoms we’ve listed below.


Warning Signs of Addiction

Addiction has physical, psychological, and behavioral warning signs. Let’s start with the physical signs of addiction.

If someone misuses alcohol or drugs, their body may go through a lot of noticeable changes. Lethargy, runny nose, irregular sleep, bloodshot eyes, and significant weight changes may have something to do with substance abuse. If these symptoms are seen frequently, the person may be struggling with addiction. Some physical changes are readily apparent, while others are more gradual.

The addicted individual may experience tremors, seizures, and loss of physical coordination. They may become extremely lethargic.

You may notice changes in their appetite, their eating habits, or their weight. Sometimes they may clench their jaw or have bloodshot eyes. For people with a heroin or opioid addiction, pinpoint pupils are common. They may have marks on their skin. Generally, they will have poor personal hygiene.

Physical symptoms can be confused for other medical conditions, so you also need to look out for psychological signs of addiction. The person may feel and think differently than they normally do. Addiction can change a person’s thought patterns, beliefs, priorities, and attitudes.

They may have paranoid thoughts, feelings of apathy, and a negative self-image caused by their uncontrollable use of drugs or alcohol. They may feel frustrated over not being able to get their addiction under control, and so they lose their confidence in the process.

Loved ones may notice changes in personality traits. The addicted individual may also suffer from mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. They may express feelings of fear, apathy, or obsession. Finally, they may withdraw emotionally from the people they love.

On top of the physical and mental effects of addiction, you should also be on the lookout for behavioral changes because these are the ones that most commonly indicate an addiction.


In fact, a person who begins to develop an addiction may start acting like a different person from the one you know. There are many behavioral signs to watch out for. The person may start to lose interest in things they used to enjoy such as their old hobbies.

As they begin to prioritize the substance over everything else, they will start spending more time on acquiring the drug, using the drug, or thinking about the drug. Their work or school performance will suffer. Their finances will also suffer as they spend more and more money on their drug of choice. They will neglect their responsibilities in the process.

They may shift away from their regular social circles in favor of a different group that encourages or supports their addictive habits. With this, they will have a decreased involvement in family activities. Some addicted people even choose to isolate themselves out of fear or shame.

While trying to hide their substance abuse, they may lie repeatedly to their loved ones. They will display secretive behavior. Secrecy and dishonesty are among the most common and telling signs of addiction. They may lie about their activities or whereabouts as they obtain the drug and use it in private. They will avoid all questions about their unexplained physical and psychological changes.

Addicted individuals may also struggle with legal issues and financial issues because of their risky behavior. They may get in trouble with the law. To maintain their addiction, they will repeatedly borrow money from friends or family members. This is why drug addiction can be extremely costly.

Because of these behavioral changes, the person’s relationships tend to suffer. They lie to their partners and ruin their friendships in the process. They go through a downward spiral, which leaves them feeling helpless and overwhelmed. This is why many addicted people don’t seek medical treatment. They feel hopeless or discouraged.

Do I Have a Drug Addiction?

If you or someone you care about is repeatedly taking a drug even if they no longer need it, it is a clear indication of substance abuse. Some addicted people even go “doctor shopping”. This is when someone visits multiple doctors just to get the same prescription over and over again. Some people think prescription drugs are safe to abuse just because they are given by doctors, but this is not the case. Some prescription drugs are just as addictive as illicit drugs.

You may be addicted to a drug if you have tried and failed to quit it repeatedly. You are experiencing the adverse physical and mental effects of addiction, but you still keep going.

People who have been abusing a particular drug for a long time will start to build tolerance. This is when the body no longer experiences the same effects from the usual dosages. That’s why people take larger doses just to experience the same euphoric effects.

When the drug wears off, they begin to feel strange. They become depressed, shaky, sweaty, or sick. These are indications of withdrawal. Severe withdrawal can even lead to seizures or tremors.

If you spend a lot of time thinking about the drug: obtaining the drug and how good it will feel—you may be addicted. You will not have limits just because the drug makes you feel good.

Other signs of addiction include borrowing or stealing money to pay for drugs; driving while under the influence of drugs; struggling to complete your daily activities without taking the drug; and significantly changing your sleeping patterns and eating habits due to drug use.

People around you may start to complain about changes in your behavior. You may struggle to get along with them because they talk about how you behave.

Finally, you may notice changes in the way you look. You may experience tremors, frequent runny or bloody noses, bad breath, and bloodshot eyes. You will also go through significant weight gain or weight loss.


How Does Addiction Start?

Everyone has a different experience with addiction, including how it develops. It has a genetic factor, meaning some people are more susceptible to developing addiction.

Addiction has several risk factors, and the more factors apply to an individual, the more likely they are to develop it. Risk factors are psychological as well as environmental. Some risk factors include: mental illness, family history of addiction, poverty, homelessness, lack of a social support system, traumatic life experiences, and domestic violence.

Drug use can start at any age. However, people who begin abusing drugs or alcohol during childhood or adolescence have a much higher risk of developing dependence.

For some people, addiction begins when they start experimenting with various substances—usually influenced by their peers. Addictions to amphetamines, alcohol, marijuana, and certain prescription drugs typically start this way. As for opioids, abuse can begin when they receive a prescription for such drugs such as painkillers. This is often the case after a surgery or an accident. Since opioids produce a pleasant effect, people can get hooked.

When a person begins to abuse a substance, they may seek out stronger substances to enjoy more intense effects. For opioids, some people go for cheaper alternatives such as heroin. In fact, 75 percent of heroin users report that the first opioid they took was a prescription drug.

Gradually, the person begins to feel like they need larger doses just to get the same effects. This means tolerance is setting in. They may want to take more frequent doses as well.


What to Do if someone is Addicted

If you think someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it’s time to seek medical help. First, keep in mind that addiction is a medical condition and should be treated as such. A person who is addicted cannot simply stop even if they wanted to. They need professional treatment to get the best chances of recovery.

You may have to set up an intervention, either with your family or with the aid of a professional who specializes in intervention. This must be done with love and support instead of just being confrontational. It should also set a clear direction about what the individual needs to do next. Addictive behavior should not be tolerated or enabled—which is something that family members sometimes do.

The intervention process should make it clear how the individual’s addiction is affecting everyone. It should emphasize the importance of treatment and rehab. Reassure them that you will be there to provide emotional support throughout their journey towards recovery.

Blaming them for their condition is pointless and unproductive. It will not help push them into the right direction because it won’t give them any motivation to change. Once substance abuse goes out of control, willpower alone is not enough to recover. This is a chronic disease that changes the brain and makes it more difficult to stop. When talking to your loved one, always be nonjudgmental.

Relapse is a common occurrence. It is a normal part of the process. Some addicted individuals relapse repeatedly before being able to maintain long term sobriety. Relapse is not failure.

They need help every step of the way. Be sure you completely understand their situation so you can provide the help that they need. Be involved in the process if necessary. Knowing their motivations for taking drugs will help you figure out how to best support them.

Next, start researching about treatment options. Look into the facilities that are closest to you and find out what kind of programs they offer. Find out as much as you can about these programs. The more you know, the more you can understand how the rehab process works.

Addiction affects everyone differently, so a personalized treatment plan will work best for the addicted individual. Find the best treatment centers near you so that your loved one can begin to get the treatment that they need.

There are many addiction treatment options out there. There are inpatient rehab programs, outpatient facilities, etc. While their treatment approach may vary, they will generally involve two things: medical detox and behavioral therapy. These programs tackle both the physical and mental health effects of addiction.

Detox is the process of gradually lowering the person’s drug or alcohol intake while medical professionals give them the care that they need during withdrawal. Medications may be given to help control or limit the effects of withdrawal. They may also help reduce cravings.

Behavioral therapy, on the other hand, tackles the issues that caused the addictive behavior in the first place. The goal of rehab is to teach patients how to slowly move away from their substance abuse and learn proper coping mechanisms which they can apply in real life. Rehab teaches them how to adapt to the drug-free lifestyle. Patients learn healthy ways to deal with stress so they don’t fall back into their old ways once they get sober.

Maintaining sobriety is the real challenge. That is why aftercare is a necessary part of the rehab process. During treatment, the patient will go through aftercare planning, so they can have continuous support even after stepping out of rehab.

If you think you or someone you know has a problem with substance use, seek help right away. The sooner they receive treatment, the better.


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 again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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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.

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