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Signs of Addiction

Are you concerned that a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol? Here are some of the signs and symptoms of addiction that you'll want to watch out for.

The Difference Between the Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Symptoms of addiction are what a person feels when they are using. They can describe the sensations themselves and see themselves behaving in a strange manner. When you are going through addiction yourself, you may not be able to recognize the symptoms of the disease as it develops. But signs of addiction are more easy to spot. This is the behavior and physical appearance that other people see. There are several fool-proof ways to tell if someone is using hard drugs or alcohol. Read on to learn more about the signs and symptoms of addiction and discover if it’s time for you or a loved one to seek help.

A Definition of Substance Abuse

When someone is substance dependent, they can no longer control their use. They continue to take the drugs or drink alcohol despite the harmful effects it causes for themselves and their families. In fact, they may not even be aware at all that they are causing real problems and see their use as a personal issue. But the powerful cravings of a substance abuser cannot be met without the help from loved ones, whether in the form of the user stealing from their family and friends, or borrowing money to support their addiction. While the addict may not want to perform these behaviors, the withdrawals they face without their substance are difficult to overcome without professional help.

Aggravating Factors of Substance Abuse

While anyone can develop an addiction in the right circumstances, there are several factors that can make you more likely to abuse substances. The first is if there’s a family history of addiction. The gene for addiction is hereditary meaning it can be passed down to children. In addition, if you’ve seen people in your family using substances regularly while you were growing up, you’re more likely to think of it as a way to solve your problems when you are put in a high-pressure situation. Another precursor for addiction is the personal circumstances of the individual. Many addicts have faced severe trauma in the form of physical, mental, or sexual abuse and are using their substance of choice to mask their emotions. The longer the abuse goes on, the more likely the person is to turn to a substance to drown out their pain. In addition, the mentally ill and those with depression may be more prone to substance abuse than others as a way to self-medicate. With the healthcare system in our country making it difficult to get a prescription for mental health medication without insurance and a doctor’s visit, often street drugs are all they have to turn to.

Physical Symptoms

Many of the symptoms of an addiction physically come when they are withdrawing from a substance. As the toxins leave the body, an addict can become extremely tired, could have constipation or diarrhea and in some cases, trembling, seizures, hallucinations, and cold sweats. Many addicts facing these symptoms choose to use because the feeling is so uncomfortable. But if they do continue to detox, they will notice an increase in their appetite and mood-related symptoms.

Behavioral Symptoms

The behavioral symptoms of a withdrawing addict are much more severe. During this time, many addicts feel extremely depressed and empty since their brains are used to the chemicals they have been feeding them and now they need to relearn how to produce their own dopamine. This uncomfortable feeling can lead to bitterness and resentment on the part of the addict forcing them to act out with a bad temper and moodiness. As their frustration and anger build, they could become violent. As if all that wasn’t bad enough, withdrawing addicts also have a reduced ability to focus, making it more difficult for them to commit to their treatment. But if they can become clean, there is hope. The brain is capable of restructuring itself after extensive damage. It’s never too late to get help.

Physical Signs of Addiction

When someone has been abusing drugs or alcohol for some time, their body will begin to show signs of that use. You may notice that they have bloodshot or glazed eyes or that their pupils are smaller or larger than usual. In addition, you may notice abrupt changes in their weight as they shift from spending their money on sustenance to substances. Over time, that may become malnourished and have problems sleeping or sleep all the time. You may also notice them using abrupt or repetitive speech patterns since their brain isn’t functioning normally. They also may develop a runny nose that is persistent and not linked to a cold.

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

The behavioral signs of addiction are the most obvious to notice. They can easily be spotted by loved ones with a keen eye.

Inability to Stop Use Despite Attempts

While it may seem obvious, the first behavioral sign of an addiction is the inability to stop your use, no matter what trouble it brings. In most cases, many serious attempts have been made to quit a substance, but to no avail. In other cases, little to no effort to quit is made because the addict doesn’t yet view their use as a problem.

Becoming Ill and Continuing Use

The addict may have even found themselves developing illnesses related to their use such as lung and heart conditions, skin lesions, liver failure, and more. If someone sees their body breaking down around them and continues to use, they definitely have an addiction.

Lack of Participation

When an addict has been using for some time, you will begin to notice that they stop participating in things that used to make them happy such as recreational sports and family parties. They may not want to take the time away from their substance abuse to be in a drug and alcohol-free environment.

Loss of Income and Property

When someone has an addiction they will always make time and money to feed their need. They may sacrifice other things in their budget like food or rent money in order to carry on their use. The drugs or alcohol become the only thing driving their actions.

Increase in Risk-Taking Behavior

You will also notice an increase in risk-taking behavior. This is a combined effect of the fear of withdrawal, the numbness that comes with their use, and their desperation to chase their high. This risky behavior often involves things like stealing items from a store or other people’s homes as well as selling their body for sex to pay for their habit.

Creating Artificial Need

When someone is truly obsessed with their drug of choice, they will feel that they need it to handle all of their problems and the stressful situations in their lives. They come up with reasons they need to use and will deny that they have a problem while continuing to use in private.

Excessive Consumption

If an addict is given their substance of choice, they are likely to over-use it. That means that they will take enough to cause blackouts and negative physical symptoms in their body like sore throats or a cough. They also may take an initial large dose of their drug of choice to get to a high point before they can say they feel good. This is very common in alcoholics who may start a night of binge drinking with a few shots.

Problems with the Law

When someone is suffering from an addiction, they will begin to drain their savings to pay for the drug. Over time, they will need to find funding sources elsewhere which can lead to legal trouble.

The 3 C’s of Addiction – The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, addictions have several hallmarks. They will have cravings, continued use, and compulsivity that gives them a lack of control over their addiction. Don’t wait until an addiction develops into a serious physical health problem, take the steps to conquer your mind today.

What to do About Addiction

After reviewing these signs and symptoms of addiction, you may have realized that it’s time for you to seek help for yourself or a loved one. Don’t wait until things get worse and become life threatening. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. If you’re ready to take the next step, then you need to find a facility that can give you the attention and care you need to overcome this problem. To get help and start on your road to recovery, contact us today.