Signs of AddictionPeter H2022-03-22T20:22:31+00:00
Signs of Addiction
What begins as casual substance use can quickly become a substance use disorder, or an addiction. However, addiction can be prevented if telltale signs and symptoms are recognized quickly, either by the user or by their loved ones.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
While every user has a unique relationship with their addictive substance, signs and symptoms are relatively consistent between each individual. That being said, there are many small things to watch out for when suspecting someone of substance abuse. In general, there are three main categories of signs and symptoms: physical signs, behavioral signs and emotional signs.
Physical Signs of Addiction
Because addiction causes immense change within the human body, oftentimes the user shows outward physical signs of this internal turmoil.
Change in appetite: weight loss, clothes do not fit the same, swift change in eating habits, weight gain, or little care for eating healthy
Personal Hygiene: neglecting one’s appearance or body odor
General Appearance: paleness, red eyes, dilated pupils, drowsy or weak looking
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
Aside from how they take care of themselves physically, addiction will change how users interact with the world around them.
Change in Professional Habits: neglecting important meetings or engagements, missing school, missing work, losing control of finances, lack of organization
Relationship Troubles: damaging relationships with family and friends, isolating themselves, mood swings, irritability
Behavior Centering around their Substance: spending money only on the substance, constantly bringing up drugs/alcohol in conversation, or secretiveness about activities
Emotional Signs of Addiction
Substance abuse is extremely detrimental to brain function, specifically, it is very damaging to the neurotransmitters that are responsible for emotions. The consequences of severe addiction include a transformed emotional state that is difficult for the individual struggling and the people close to them.
Increases in irritability and defensiveness
Rationalizing or minimizing concern: making up excuses for their actions rather than taking accountability for them, especially involving substances
Diversion: changing the subject whenever asked about substances or avoiding the subject completely
Loss of interest in daily life, not feeling the need to participate socially or emotionally in any engagements
Although signs and symptoms are different depending on what substance is being used, those listed above are often what will be noticeable pre-addiction. Additionally, there are two main warning signs that usually come with all cases of substance abuse.
Craving the Substance: Those who become addicted to substances need to ingest it to feel normal. When the effects of whatever drug they are using wear often, many often experience immediate, subtle withdrawal symptoms that generally resemble craving the substance. Once the substance is contained, the craving may empower the user to ingest all of the substance at once, leading to a greater dependency on the amount of substance to feel the high.
Loss of Control: Those who are addicted to substances will continue using despite knowing that what they are doing is harming them. Addiction is a disorder—their brain may rely so heavily on the drug to feel normal that it overtakes any sense of caution the user may have for their own health. Those suffering from addiction will literally not be able to control their need for the substance any longer.
The bottom line with recognizing signs and symptoms is simple: if you are aware that a loved one is using substances frequently and their general behavior is different than normal, keep a close eye on them until it is clear they are reaching a place where they could possibly need assistance.