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Identifying Signs of Addiction

Recognizing an addiction problem is someone you know can be harder than it seems. General signs of addiction are:

  • Lack of control, or inability to stay away from a substance or behavior
  • Decreased socialization, like abandoning commitments or ignoring relationships
  • Ignoring risk factors, like sharing needles despite potential consequences
  • Physical effects, like withdrawal symptoms or needing higher dosage for effect

These signs are commonly linked. The degree of intensity for each sign may depend on how long the addiction has been going on.

A health person can usually identify a negative behavior and get rid of it. This is not the case with someone with an addiction. Rather than admit the problem exists, they’ll find ways to justify and continue the behavior.

In the early stages, a person might now show telltale signs of a full-blown addictions. Some early stage clues include:

  • Experimentation
  • Family history of addiction
  • Being particularly drawn to an activity or substance
  • Seeking out situations where the substance activity is present
  • Episodes of binging or loss of control with little to no feelings of remorse after

Look for Changes in Personality

After a person moves past experimenting or the early phase of addiction, they’ll likely exhibit major personality or behavior changes. These changes may be infrequent at first:

  • A lack of interest in hobbies or activities that used to be important
  • Neglecting relationships or reacting negatively to those closes to them
  • Missing important obligations like school or work
  • Risk taking tendencies, especially to get drugs or continue certain behaviors
  • Ignoring the negative consequences of their actions
  • Distinct change in sleeping patterns that result in chronic fatigue
  • Increased secrecy, like lying about the amount of substance used or time spend

Look for Changes in Health

Another way to recognize addiction is to pay attention to your friend or family member’s mental and physical health. Whether the addiction is to a drug or behavior, their health will almost always decline. Signs that point towards changes in their health can include:

  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Constant illness
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Abrupt change in weight
  • Bad skin, teeth, hair and nails
  • Looking unkempt
  • Enlarged or small pupils
  • Unusual body odors
  • Increased tolerance to drugs
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms like sweating, trembling or vomiting
  • Memory loss or problems with recall
  • Change in speech like slurred words or rapid rambling

Mental and Emotional Changes:

  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Apathy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unexplained paranoia

It’s important to eliminate any potential medical reasons for someone’s health decline. Keep in mind that someone with an addiction will almost always understate the seriousness of their condition. If there’s no other explanation, then there’s an increased chance of an underlying addiction problem.