Drug Addiction Symptoms



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Drug Addiction Symptoms; addiction usually progresses in a set of stages.

Addiction is progressive and most of the time treatment is required to end the addiction. When a person has a drink, for example, they enjoy the flavor of the drink, the relaxing feeling they get when they drink it and they often have a drink in a social setting with friends and colleagues.

Because they enjoy the experience, they want to repeat it and so they have another drink, or they go back to the same place and have a drink the next day. They are not necessarily addicted. People who take prescription pain medications, even powerful opiates, do not necessarily put themselves in jeopardy of developing an addiction.

Drug Addiction Symptoms:
Need More and More of the drug to get the same “HIGH”

Addiction sets in when the person no longer has a choice to use the drug or not use the drug. They claim they can quit anytime they want, but the truth is they can’t quit and they keep using. They say “I’ll cut back,” but their tolerance to the drug is building and they will need more drug to achieve the same effect. As the addiction progresses, people will often lose themselves entirely, as their whole existence is consumed by the desire to use. They have no choice.

Having no choice has its degrees of difficulty as well. If you have ever had a hangover, you understand what very mild alcohol withdrawal feels like. Each drug has its own characteristics of withdrawal, but sometimes those withdrawals are terrifying and physically intolerable.

Only themselves to blame

Of course there is always the argument that people who are addicted have only themselves to blame as the disease is “self inflicted.” The partial truth to this claim is dangerous because it creates a stigma that gets in the way of treatment and recovery. The guilt and shame attached to the disease cause people to wander deeper and deeper into the shadows, sometimes never agreeing to treatment.

Alcoholism and Drug Addiction have a beginning stage and the disease progresses through four additional stages. Let’s take a closer look at how the disease may unfold in a person’s life and look for these changes in yourself or the loved one you’re concerned about:

Drug Addiction Symptoms:
Stage 1: Social Drink or Proper Drug Use

A young person is at a party. There is a keg of beer and paper cups everywhere. “Everybody” is doing it and the peer pressure to fit in and be a part of the crowd is felt. Maybe there is marijuana and the reefer is being passed around. He tries it and enjoys the effects of the drug, the beer, the marijuana, or both. Because of the pleasurable experience, he wants to repeat it. He likes the way he feels.

A woman is prescribed an opiate pain killer after her knee surgery. She appreciates the relief. She reasons to herself, “If one pill seems to take care of the pain, surely taking another pill will make me feel better.” The drug works, she feels better.

A husband and father of three is having difficulty at work and struggle to relax and unwind after work. A friend says, “Here take one of these and you’ll feel better.”

Drug Addiction Symptoms:
Stage 2: Increased Use

The occasional drink or use of a drug becomes a regular activity, not necessarily daily but more frequent. Their use of the drug is not limited to recreation, but has turned into a routine and it’s starting to be worrisome.

They take risks.

They drink too much, they take too much drug.

It changes their behavior. “

Oh, he’s a mean drunk” describes a man who is no longer drinking for pleasure. His behavior is no longer acceptable. He may be abusing a prescription pain medication, or mixing those with alcohol.

Drug Addiction Symptoms:
Stage 3: Loss of Control

From their frequent use of a drug the person will start to lose control, losing their ability to make good choices. They not only use more often, they take more and more to achieve the desired effect and people may notice that they are changing, they don’t seem like the same person. Maybe they have lost interest in their friends, activities and seem to be dropping out of the mainstream.

Drug Addiction Symptoms:
Stage 4: Physical Dependence

This is the point at which the user is dependent. They may still be able to hold down a job, or fool people into thinking everything is fine, but underneath it all is the physical need to use their drug of choice. They need the alcohol or drug to function. However, they are beginning to lose their grip and their ability hold things together. It is catching up with them. Maybe they have had a DUI, or have missed work, or they forgot their son’s ball game. They may have had a couple of drinks on their lunch hour and return to work drunk. Something is wrong and they may even have a sense if it, so they hide their drinking or drug use. They use on weekends, or after 5:00 in the afternoon.

Drug Addiction Symptoms:
Stage 5: Addicted

By now the disease has morphed. What was a disease of the brain, impacting the body has now turned into a disease of the human soul. There are now serious medical complications, psychological issues and the person is lost in a cloud of confusion, uncertainty and is in jeopardy of dying.

Their ability to make good choices is gone, and they use even though it doesn’t make them feel better, or feel good. Regardless of the physical or social consequences, they will use. It is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, but it can be treated and managed. People do recover.

Often the addict is the LAST to know because they exist in denial

The last person to realize that he has a problem is the addict. That’s the trouble with the disease. If you have a broken leg, it’s obvious. Nobody has to tell you that you can’t walk. Sometimes people will have a sense that something is nor right, but much of the time it takes the observations of another person to bring the problem into the light. Here is a list of “observations” that point to the onset of the disease:

The person…

Can’t just stop, or fails to stop
Thinks the drug is the answer to their problems
Uses more and more frequently
Uses resources to make sure there is drug on hand
Spends too much money on their drug of choice, money they don’t have
If they don’t have money, they’ll beg, borrow and steal to get it for drugs or alcohol
The drug becomes the focal point of daily life
Drives drunk or under the influence

Parents become very upset

For parents, the idea of drug addiction is frightening. Nowhere is drug addiction more heartbreaking than in the case of parents who suspect something is wrong, but do not have the tools to recognize what is going on with their son or daughter. Here are some of the things to look for specifically with kids.

School/Work: Is your child keeping up with their school work? Have they lost interest in going to school and look for excuses to stay home? One suggestion to follow is to call the school and keep track of your child’s attendance in class.

Are there days when you think your child has gone to school, but the attendance records do not match up? Children who are in trouble with drugs will often begin failing classes, not turning in homework assignments or in general just fall behind. “I can’t believe Johnny is failing math, it was always his favorite subject.” A new pattern has emerged and it isn’t pretty.

General Health Condition: As a person slips into addiction a variety of physical signs can point to drug abuse. Are they listless all of the time? Kids don’t want to get up in the morning, but they don’t always refuse to get moving. Weight loss and weight gain are signs. The eyes are often an indicator. Has the life gone out of their eyes, or is there a major change?

Drug Addiction Symptoms:
Appearance:
This can be a difficult area to discern, as fashions change and often times what adults feel is acceptable dress may not have anything to do with current trends. Watch for changes in dress. Does a child lose interest in how they look? Kids want to fit in and there is peer pressure to influence the way they dress. Girls, especially, are bombarded with images on appearance.

Behavior and their general attitude and mood: As kids enter their teen years it is natural for them to want to break away from the family. When kids go to extremes to make sure you don’t know who they are with or what they are doing, the red flag should go up. When they become secretive and guarded, when their privacy at home prevents your open access to them, there may be something beyond mere adolescent rebellion.

Perhaps their only interaction with the parents is to ask for money, and when asked why they need money they refuse to answer, or become indignant. Worse yet, they may steal items from home to buy drugs.

So many parents of teenagers are blindsided when they discover that their son or daughter has been using drugs and/or alcohol. Here are some signs:

Drug Addiction Symptoms:
Teens often will…


Lose interest in their friends or normal activities
Let their grades slip
Sleep too much, or stay awake all night
Lose weight or have a change in eating habits
Lose interest in their appearance, clothes
Become even more secretive and fall out of family life
Leave the house without permission or at odd hours
Keep mom and dad out of their bedroom
Ask for money with no explanation
Steal money, family possessions

If you are visiting this site because you have concerns for a friend or loved one, you are probably going to see what's going on long before they do. People who are addicted do not necessarily see the whole picture. If you are concerned about a family member, friend or coworker, there are a few questions to ask in helping your assessment.

Addicts will continue to use regardless of everything that is happening to them and happening around them. They may drain the family bank account, lose their job, fail in school, damage relationships, ruin their health, or run into problems with the law.

If you are questioning your own drug use, ask yourself some questions. Have you developed a higher tolerance for the drug. Does it take more and more of your drug of choice to get the desired effect?

Here are the top 20 questions to assess drug addiction symptoms:

1. Has their appearance changed; they don't care how they look?

2. Are they eating properly?

3. Have they lost weight, or have they gained weight?

4. Have you seen needle marks on their arms or legs?

5. Are they slowing down?

6. Do they have the shakes?

7. Are their hands cold and sweaty?

8. Have you smelled something on their breath, or their clothing?

9. Do their eyes appear red?

10. Are their pupils dilated?

11. Is their face puffy?

12. Has their coloring changed, become flushed or pale?

13. Do they have a blank stare?

14. Has their physical coordination changed? Are they staggering?

15. Have they missed a lot of school, or work?

16. Have their sleep habits changed? Are they always tired?

17. Have they become lazy?

18. Are they hyper?

19. Do they talk a million miles an hour? Do they slur their words?

20. Have you seen drug paraphernalia?

These are all critical drug addiction symptoms; if you observe at least three of these you should start to be concerned. Try talking to them about these changes and see what response you get. Also consider taking them to your doctor and ask the doctor to assess them and tell the doctor the drug addiction symptoms you've observed. Doctors are in the best position to asses the drug addiction symptoms you're concerned about.

This list is by no means an exhaustive list of drug addiction symptoms, and even if they/you have these drug addiction symptoms, it doesn't necessarily mean a person is addicted. Try to avoid being judgmental or jumping to conclusions. But also don't deny what is right in front of you!

Addiction and depression commonly go hand and hand. Another problem is simply that addicts see their behavior as your problem. Even if they are in trouble and need help, they believe the problem is not with them, but with everybody else.

Even if you are correct in assessing drug addiction, understand that the addict will blame you for accusing them. Think of it this way, your relationship with them may be the key to their recovery.

Drug-specific drug addiction symptoms

It might also be helpful to understand some basic on the effects of specific drugs. You may suspect someone is using drugs, but what drugs are they using?

Cannabis/Pot

Marijuana’s active drug is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and contrary to popular belief, it is addictive. Marijuana users tend to smoke every day and while their addiction is not a physical dependence, they lean on the drug just the same.

This psychological addiction is nevertheless a concern. The use of the drug can cause memory and concentration problems, impact muscle coordination, slow reaction, cause paranoia and one of the classic signs is increased appetite (the munchies).

Opiates like Heroin

This group of drugs is designed to reduce pain. It includes heroin, both the medical heroin and the illegal street heroin, which is derived from opium. It also includes morphine and commonly prescribed medications such as Oxycodone, methadone, used to wean people off of other opiates.

People use many an opiate legally, but find themselves taking more and more as their bodies build a tolerance. They can become depressed and confused, constipated, and breathing can be slowed, sometimes to dangerous levels.

Many users prefer to inject the drug, so needle marks are a tell-tale sign. Addicts will not be able to hold a job for long periods of time and will take to the streets to hustle, steal and sell drugs to get money for more.

Central Nervous System Depressants

This group of drugs pertains to prescription medications that impact the central nervous system. Barbituates (Phenobarbital, amobarbital, secobarbital) and benzodiazepines (diazepam, alprazolam, lorazapam, clonazepam, chordiazepoxide). You are probably familiar with the brand names Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin and Librium, which are the benzodiazapines, or tranquilizers.

These medications are to be taken as prescribed by your doctor, and it is easy to see how a person can get our of control using these in an inappropriate manner. You can look for signs of abuse by noticing the person demonstrates slurred or slowed speech, memory lapses, confusion, depression or sadness, listlessness, slow reactions and sleepiness.

Stimulants like meth

This group is an ever-increasing problem in America. This would include cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamine. The use of methylphenidate, more popularly known as Ritalin, has skyrocketed in the last 20 years. Those using stimulants may not sleep for long periods, talk fast, have boundless energy, become very irritable and cranky when the drug wears off, be unusually happy or upbeat when using, lose weight, lose interest in eating, suffer increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

Club/Designer Drugs like Ecstasy

This group refers to the party scene at nightclubs, raves and concerts. The most commonly known drug in this group is Ecstasy, but there is also Rohypnol and ketamine. They are not necessarily related, but they produce similar effects. They are party drugs mainly because young people enjoy the relaxed inhibitions they feel when high. Because they are illegal street drugs, there is risk for contaminants in each dose.

The user doesn’t know what he/she is getting. People will often display euphoria, poor judgment and reasoning skills, reduced coordination, an amphetamine-like high. They can suffer fluctuating heart race, seizures, coma and possible death, an altered consciousness and memory lapses (date rape drugs).

Hallucinogens like LSD

These are drugs that change the user’s perception of reality. Popular in the 1960’s, users would “take a trip” seeing bright colors and altered shapes. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and phencyclidine (PCP) are the two most common. These drugs produce hallucinations, altered perception of reality, sometimes pleasant.

Sometimes things go wrong, people have a bad trip and experience permanent mental damage, a rapid heart rate, tremors and “flashbacks” or returns to previous trips, even long after the event. PCP use is particularly dangerous as people will sense euphoria and a feeling of invincibility. They become delusional and have hallucinations. They can become aggressive, violent and may be impervious to pain.

Inhalants/Huffing

Teens often take common household items, such as glue, paint thinner, cleaning products, aerosols and inhale them to get high. The inhaling produces intoxication, albeit brief, along with a pleasurable sense of inhibition.

However, the negative side effects of this practice are devastating. A person can have seizures, brain damage, liver and kidney damage, and in some cases even die from inhaling these chemicals. Some signs of use are coughing and wheezing, coughing up blood, lung damage a runny nose, caused by damage to the mucus membranes.

Any use of a drug for other than its intended, legal purpose is drug abuse. When the use of that drug is no longer a matter of choice, but a need, driven by an intense craving, the user is either dependent or has slipped into addiction. Their lives are out of control.

They have either lost their job or will lose it, they will tear apart their families, their friends and the only sustaining relationships they have is with other addicts. Worse yet, they have lost their humanity and they have lost their dreams. Nothing else matters but the drug, regardless of the health implications, the social destruction or any legal entanglements. They will literally give up life itself to get high.

Moral Issues Usually Often Surface

The brain disease of addiction has morphed into a disease of the soul. There is help and there is hope, however, but all three parts of the human experience will need treatment…body, mind and spirit (soul).

Coming back from drug addiction is literally like coming back from the dead. Without treatment, the only real option is death. There is no cure, but it can be managed. People can get their life back. Click here for more symptoms about Addiction and Depression


Usually see it as "Your Problem" not their problem at all!

Another problem is simply that addicts see their behavior as your problem. Even if they are in trouble and need help, they believe the problem is not with them, but with everybody else.

Even if you are correct in assessing drug addiction, understand that the addict will blame you for accusing them. Think of it this way, your relationship with them may be the key to their recovery.

If they pull away from you and others, it could lead to their falling deeper into addiction. We encourage you to seek professional counsel from a drug addiction therapist, or a physician if you think there is a problem. Please don’t wait too long!

Drug addiction symptoms in teens and young adults

Nowhere is drug addiction more heartbreaking than in the case of parents who suspect something is wrong, but do not have the tools to recognize what is going on with their son or daughter. Here are some of the things to look for specifically with kids. School: Is your child keeping up with their school work? Have they lost interest in going to school and look for excuses to stay home? One suggestion to follow is to call the school and keep track of your child’s attendance in class.

Are they failing at school or their job?

Are there days when you think your child has gone to school, but the attendance records do not match up? Children who are in trouble with drugs will often begin failing classes, not turning in homework assignments or in general just fall behind. “I can’t believe Johnny is failing math, it was always his favorite subject.” A new pattern has emerged and it isn’t pretty.

More health issues: As a person slips into addiction a variety of physical signs can point to drug abuse. Are they listless all of the time? Kids don’t want to get up in the morning, but they don’t always refuse to get moving. Weight loss and weight gain are signs.
The eyes are often an indicator. Has the life gone out of their eyes, or is there a major change?


Negative change in their appearance: This can be a difficult area to discern, as fashions change and often times what adults feel is acceptable dress may not have anything to do with current trends. Watch for changes in dress.
Does a child lose interest in how they look?
Kids want to fit in and there is peer pressure to influence the way they dress. Girls, especially, are bombarded with images on appearance.

Negative Behavior and Attitude Changes: As kids enter their teen years it is natural for them to want to break away from the family. When kids go to extremes to make sure you don’t know who they are with or what they are doing, the red flag should go up. When they become secretive and guarded, when their privacy at home prevents your open access to them, there may be something beyond mere adolescent rebellion. Perhaps their only interaction with the parents is to ask for money, and when asked why they need money they refuse to answer, or become indignant. Worse yet, they may steal items from home to buy drugs.


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