How do you know when a habit becomes an addiction? Or if a once recreational activity has turned into a dangerous or potentially deadly activity? These are questions you might be asking yourself if a friend or loved one is showing possible signs of addiction. We understand it can be confusing and difficult to determine if someone is truly showing signs of drug addiction.
Do You Know the Signs of Drug Addiction?
Not to mention, many people are able to hide drug abuse and addiction signs and symptoms even from medical professionals. So, if you aren’t sure what to look out for, you might not be sure what you and your loved one are dealing with. While not every addict will show the same physical signs of drug addiction, there are many telltale signs to watch out for. Once you’re aware of these signs, you will be better equipped to support this person in seeking treatment and getting on the path to recovery.
But it isn’t only the signs of drug addiction in other people you’re interested in learning about. Perhaps you’re here because you’re wondering if you are in the throes of addiction yourself.
Understanding the Signs of Drug Addiction
Whether it’s for you, a family member, or a friend, let’s discuss some of the most notable signs of drug addiction to help prepare you. To make these signs and symptoms easier to digest, we’re breaking them down into three categories: physical, emotional, and behavioral.
Physical Signs of Addiction
Depending on how long someone has been using drugs, how frequently they use, the type of drugs they use, and many other factors, a number of physical symptoms may be present. Keep in mind, many of these symptoms can also be explained by other things. However, if you’re noticing many of these physical symptoms in the same person, they may point to possible addiction.
Here are some of the common physical signs of drug addiction:
- Tremors or seizures
- Loss of physical coordination
- Extreme lethargy or extreme bursts of energy
- Poor personal hygiene practices and body odor
- Chemical odor on breath or clothes. furniture, and bedding
- Pinpoint pupils (these are common with opioid and heroin addiction)
- Bloodshot or watery eyes
- Looking pale or undernourished
- Frequently runny nose (this can be common with cocaine addiction)
- Rapid weight changes
- Changes in appetite and eating habits
- Jaw clenching
- Irregular sleeping patterns or difficulty falling asleep
- Marks on skin
Psychological/Emotional Signs of Addiction
Next, we move on to some of the notable emotional signs of drug addiction. As you’ll see, many of these signs can be caused by a number of other things, including mental health challenges, stress, or other circumstances.
- Increased irritability
- Becoming more argumentative
- Difficulty regulating emotions
- Losing interest in people or activities that once brought them happiness
- Defensiveness and denial
- Obsessive or compulsive thinking
- Rationalizing and justifying their behavior
- Negative outlook toward life and a poor self-image
- Being easily confused
- Blaming others for their behavior
- Changing the subject if you bring up potentially addictive behavior (this is known as diverting)
- Minimizing the seriousness or scope of their actions
- Acting uncharacteristically silly or obnoxious
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
Finally, let’s move onto the behavioral signs of drug addiction.
- Repetitive speech patterns
- Changes in activities or hobbies
- Changing their social circles
- Skipping out on activities with friends or family they once enjoyed taking part in
- A sudden drop in performance in work or school
- Increasingly deceptive and secretive actions
- Legal issues
- Isolating themselves
- Neglecting responsibilities, including their children, job, and hygiene
- Financial issues
- Marital or relationship problems
What are the Risk Factors for Addiction?
We know that many of these signs also relate to a number of other circumstances. One way to help determine whether physical, emotional, or behavioral changes are brought on by drug addiction or something else is considering the risk factors for addiction.
If you notice some of the signs of drug addiction in someone who has many of these risk factors, that may help bring light to the situation.
So, what exactly are the risk factors of addiction to be on the lookout for?
Here are eight of the leading risk factors for addiction:
- Genetics/family history of addiction
- Mental illness
- Poor understanding of health maintenance
- Traumatic life events, including the death of someone close to them, divorce, or injuries
- Previous abuse or domestic violence
- Lacking a social support system, like family or friends
It’s also worth noting the drug someone is using can play a big role in whether they experience addiction or not. For example, drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines tend to be more physically addictive compared to substances like marijuana or alcohol. Additionally, the “comedown” from drugs like cocaine and heroin can be severe, leading to more frequent use to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
On top of the drug someone is using, their method of use can also be a risk factor for addiction. As an example, drugs that someone smokes or injects tend to be more addictive than those that are swallowed.
These aren’t hard and fast rules, however. Nothing is off the table when it comes to addiction. Even if someone doesn’t have a single risk factor for addiction, they can still become an addict.
What are The 3 Cs of Addiction?
In addition to the signs of drug addiction we just covered, let’s also talk about the “Three Cs of Addiction” you might not be aware of: Compulsion, Control, Consequences.
- Compulsion: A person may also begin to show signs of compulsion, including compulsively talking about their habit. It can also mean compulsively spending time with people who enable this habit and scheduling their time around using drugs.
- Control: Once someone becomes addicted to drugs, they tend to lose control over the amount and frequency of use. They may also lose control of their life, including missing out on important events, not honoring commitments, missing work, and lacking personal hygiene skills.
- Consequences: If someone continues using, even in the face of adverse consequences (such as negative health effects, broken relationships, or financial issues), this can signify drug addiction.
Interestingly, the Three Cs tend to happen in order. Someone will first show signs of compulsion, then a loss of control, and finally will begin to experience consequences.
The Three Cs in Action
Let’s look at a real-life example of drug use. When someone is in the throes of heroin addiction, you may notice they begin organizing their day around when and where they can use. They also begin talking about heroin and bringing up topics related to this habit in every conversation. This is the first C—compulsion in action.
Then, this same person may begin to lose control of the responsibilities they once had. You are noticing they aren’t showing up for work. They aren’t there to pick their children up when they are supposed to. They’re negating their personal hygiene and basic tasks they once performed. This is the second C—a loss of control, in action.
Finally, someone experiencing heroin addiction may begin to experience the third C: consequences, as a result of their addiction. These consequences could be losing their job, financial consequences, losing custody of their children, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, it often isn’t until these consequences take place that someone is willing to admit they have a problem. Even then, the addiction may be so strong they still can’t come to terms with it.
Are You or Someone You Know Showing Signs of Drug Addiction?
The substance of this post may have been incredibly eye-opening to you. Or perhaps it only confirmed what you already expected. Either way, if you or someone you know is ready to explore treatment options, including sober escorts and companions, we are here to help.
We are located here in sunny South Florida and provide one on one support with meetings, health, nutrition, transportation, and spiritual guidance to help maintain sobriety.
We help people of ALL ages who suffer from addiction and cater to those who cannot be in residential care for one reason or another.
Contact us today to learn more.