Identifying the signs of addiction is often the first step for getting help, whether it’s for yourself or someone you care about. Many people with addiction are in denial that they’re addicted, and they often try to justify their use of drugs or alcohol. They may also have cognitive dissonance that their drug use is causing problems in their lives. For these reasons, it’s not always easy to simply tell someone to get help. They need to first recognize that they have a problem.
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
Many addiction symptoms come out in a person’s behavior. Addiction to drugs or alcohol can drastically change a person’s behavior to a startling degree. One of the biggest signs is when the person begins dropping all other obligations in their life. They may stop going to work or school and stop socializing with their family and friends. The reason is that acquiring drugs or alcohol has become their main pursuit. They also need extra time to use drugs or alcohol. If you find yourself obsessing over drug use or drinking alcohol, then then this is a big warning sign of addiction.
Obsession isn’t the only behavioral sign of addiction. Loss of control over drug use and disregard of the harm it’s causing you or others are major signs as well. If you find yourself wanting to quit using drugs or alcohol, but you simply cannot, that’s a sign that you’re addicted.
Denial of Drug Abuse and Addiction
Addiction is hard to hide forever. However, an addicted person will often deny their use of drugs or alcohol. They might also downplay any obvious harmful effects that it’s having. Eventually, they will attempt to hide their alcohol or drug use in order to avoid any further questions or lectures. But, drug abuse can’t stay hidden for long. The life of the addicted person will quickly start to spiral out of control. Some of the most obvious signs of addiction are as follows:
• Serious financial problems
• Criminal conduct
• Neglecting hygiene and responsibilities
• Physical health issues
Family members, close friends and coworkers can usually recognize that something has gone seriously wrong in the addicted person’s life. The behavior and habit changes are generally drastic enough to make others notice.
Physical Signs of Addiction
There are also plenty of physical manifestations of addiction. These can be the result of withdrawal, an overdose, or just the normal side effects of excessive use of drugs or alcohol. Severe side effects, or an overdose in progress, will likely require immediate medical attention. Withdrawal symptoms happen when the body builds a tolerance to a particular substance. Once you stop using the substance, the withdrawal symptoms start. Withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous, depending on the drug and how long the person used it.
General physical addiction symptoms include the following:
• Drastic weight loss or gain
• Dilated or constricted pupils
• Slurred speech
• Bloodshot eyes
• Poor hygiene
• Strange body odors
• Lack of coordination
• Insomnia or hyperactivity
If you think someone might be having an overdose, the following are also symptoms to look out for:
• Difficulty walking
• Extreme drowsiness
• Violent and hostile behavior
• Difficulty breathing
• Hallucinations or delusions
• Loss of consciousness
Withdrawal symptoms due to addiction can be severe as well. They may include items from this list:
• Trembling and shaking
• Loss of appetite
• Confusion and hallucinations
Psychological Signs of Addiction
Along with the physical symptoms of addiction, there are also psychological signs. People struggling with addiction often do not realize that they’re experiencing some of these psychological signs:
• Lack of focus or concentration
• No motivation
• Anxiousness or nervousness
• Angry outbursts and irritability
• Emotionally withdrawing
• Sudden mood swings
• Increased paranoia
• Pronounced personality or attitude changes
Family members and close friends often notice these addiction symptoms before anyone else. Recognizing these signs of addiction in someone you care about can be a key factor in getting them to seek help. If you suspect a loved one is struggling with addiction, you can see past the denials and downplaying. It can also help if you know what type of drug abuse your loved one is engaging in.
Signs of Heroin Addiction
Knowing the tell-tale signs of addiction to certain kinds of drugs can be helpful. Sometimes finding suspicious paraphernalia can be your first clue that your loved one is having a problem with drug abuse. The following are some examples of common heroin paraphernalia:
• Spoons with obvious burn marks
• Pieces of aluminum foil with burn marks
• Rubber bands or shoelaces used to tie arms for injection
• Cut pieces of straws
• Small multicolor balloons
Heroin is a very common addictive drug, and heroin abuse often starts after prescription opioid abuse. Heroin is generally cheaper and easier to get than prescription opioids. People who use heroin may display confusion, constricted pupils, shallow breathing and severe weight loss. They may try to hide track marks on their arms by wearing long-sleeved shirts even in warm weather.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Unlike heroin, alcoholism can be more difficult to spot. This is mainly due to how alcohol is an accepted part of American society. Simply knowing that someone drinks alcohol doesn’t mean that they’re also addicted. So, how do you tell if your loved one might be addicted to alcohol? The key signs to look for include the following:
• Blackouts or difficulty remembering things they did while drinking
• Legal problems such as drunk driving
• Unhealthy drinking patterns such as drinking all day or in the morning
• Displaying anxiety at getting access to alcohol
It’s very common for alcoholics to deny that they have a problem with their drinking patterns. You can also look for physical signs of alcohol addiction such as the following:
• Weight loss
• Reddening of the nose and cheeks
• Frequent episodes of an upset stomach
• Frequent hangovers that cause them to miss work or school
Treatment For Addiction
The first step is to recognize the problem. The second step is to get into a rehab program where you can go through a period of detox and then addiction therapy. It’s important to remember that beating addiction is not usually a one-time thing. Many people go to rehab and addiction therapy several times before they are able to conquer it.
As an addiction therapist in Los Angeles, Doctor Howard Samuels specializes in addiction therapy. He also understands the perils of drug abuse from personal experience. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, get in touch with Doctor Samuels today to find out how he can help.