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Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction

The signs and symptoms of drug addiction present in various ways depending on the substance abused and how they affect the individual using them. A symptom of drug addiction would be something the addict personally feels, senses, or experiences; whereas a sign of drug addiction is something other people around the addict notice. For example, one of the symptoms drug addicts experience is a craving for their drug of choice, while a sign of drug addiction might be lying and/or stealing to obtain the drug they crave.

What is drug addiction? Drug addiction is when an individual is either physically or mentally dependent on a substance. Some drugs such as heroin, alcohol, and prescription opioids are both physically and mentally addictive. When an individual is addicted to a drug they loose their ability to control their use of the substance. Once a person is an addict, they will continue taking the drug despite the harm is causes them. They sacrifice their health, their career/schooling, family and friends as well as their finances to sustain their habit; addiction to drugs comes at an extreme price for the addicted individual.

They will also experience drug cravings. These cravings are so powerful that the addicted individual is unable to focus on anything except obtaining their drug of choice. The need to use a drug can feel both physical and emotional for the individual; and, they know there is only one sure way to end there suffering, to get their drug of choice and use. The intensity of drug cravings are so powerful that most individuals who attempt to stop using on their own find they eventually succumb to their overwhelming urge to use. When quitting on one's own proves unsuccessful, enrolling in a drug rehab program can help address drug cravings and other factors in order to achieve lasting sobriety.

The signs and symptoms of drug addiction vary based on the individual, the substance they are addicted to, their family history of addiction (genetics), and personal circumstances (the environment they live in, the individual's they surround themselves with, etc.).

Signs of Drug Addiction:

  • A sign of drug addiction is when the addicted individual makes an intentional attempt to stop using, but gives up and is unsuccessful. They relapse and return to using drugs again.
  • Often, addicted persons sacrifice social and/or recreational activities if it hinders their drug use. For example, the addict will choose not to attend an outing with friends, like going on a day trip or camping if they will not be able to use. The addict will also drop hobbies and activities that they once enjoyed and took pleasure in.
  • An addict will ensure their supply of drugs is maintained before anything else. This may mean they have to go without in other areas of their life, such as food or paying bills to make this happen. They will go so far as to have stashes hidden away in different parts of their home or vehicle; typically in unlikely places not easily located by friends or family.
  • Addicts often take risks they would not have if their addiction didn't run their lives. They may trade sex or steal for drugs. Or, they may participate in risky activities when they are under the influence such as driving recklessly or participating in unprotected sex.
  • As addiction controls their life, the individual will become very secretive and crave solitude away from anyone who does not agree with or know about their substance abuse.
  • A clear sign of drug addiction is when the individual express denial about their substance dependence. Many people with addiction problems live in denial about how severe their substance use truly is. They remain unaware and/or refuse to acknowledge they have a problem. Even when the loved ones in their life clearly express their concern.
  • Legal problems are common among individuals struggling with drug addiction. The drugs they consume alter their judgement. This may cause them to take risks they would not have when they were sober, or to break the law to obtain the substance they are craving.

Symptoms of Drug Addiction:

  • Suffering from withdrawal symptoms. When the individual is physically addicted to the substance their body will go into withdrawal if they do not regularly consume their drug of choice. Physical drug withdrawal symptoms may include cravings, the shakes, seizures, hallucinations, the sweats, nausea or vomiting, insomnia, constipation or diarrhea and other flu like symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be emotional and psychological. The addict might experience moodiness, poor temper, inability to focus, feelings of depression or emptiness, anger, as well as bitterness and resentment. An increased appetite is also a symptom of drug addiction withdrawal, especially with stimulants such as meth, bath salts or cocaine.
  • A common symptom of drug addiction is continuing to take the substance despite health problems. During the individual's downward spiral into drug addiction, they will usually experience a number of health issues associated with their substance abuse. They become more susceptible to infection and viruses, as well as physical health problems such heart trouble or sinus issues. Additional health concerns include catching infectious diseases from shared paraphernalia and/or unprotected sex.
  • Often, an addicted individual is no longer able to deal with life's problems sober. With their addiction firmly in place, they rely on their drug use to cope with issues instead of facing life's problems directly and handling difficulties as they arise.
  • It is all too common for the addicted person to become obsessed with their drug of choice. This symptom of drug addiction invades every aspect of their life, it is all they think about and focus on around the clock.
  • The individual may consume more of the drug in a short amount of time in an effort to experience the effects of the substance quickly and more intensely. This is often because they have increased their tolerance to such a point that the dose or amount they once used now no longer feels like enough for them, they need more to get the same rush or high they once experienced with less. This can lead to blackouts (missing periods of time) as well as physical symptoms like a sore throat or post nasal drip.
  • Many drug addicted persons have trouble in their personal relationships. They may have a partner that uses with them, and therefor have a complicated drug using relationship. Or, they have a partner that does not use drugs and has issues with their substance use. This will forever be a problem between the two individuals, until either the drug addict gets clean, or the sober partner realizes they cannot control their loved one's actions.

The signs and symptoms of drug addiction are serious issues. They should never be minimized or ignored in the hopes that they will just go away or resolve themselves on their own. When these indicators are left unacknowledged, they enable to addict to continue their downward spiral further into drug addiction. If taken seriously from their onset, the signs and symptoms of drug addiction can mean the addicted individual receives the help they need sooner to stop using and regain control of their life. If you feel as though you are suffering from the symptoms of drug addiction, seek treatment. Through drug rehabilitation, you will be able to stop using, rebuild your life and accomplish you goals to live a healthy sober existence. For friends and family who have a loved one demonstrating signs of drug addiction, consider holding an intervention, or simply speaking to them in a calm, non-judgmental manner. Choosing to look the other way and not speak up is the same as enabling them continue their self-destruction.