Signs and Problems of Drug Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction is a severe dysfunction of the central nervous system that involves a reward, memory, and motivation. It is a way in which the body craves for the substance or the behavior caused by the obsessive pursuit of the drug without any concern of the impacts it could have. A drug addict doesn’t care about the amount of money they spend on the drugs and the time the drug’s use consumes.

If one is in a position where they can’t take the substance, or they don’t have the money to buy the drugs, they get nervous, anxious, and may not be able to do anything until they consume the drug. Addicted individuals have no control over their own life, and the substance use may reach a point that it can claim their lives or cause permanent health damage.  When a person starts abusing a drug, they become dependent on it and they can no longer control the amounts they take. They depend on it to deal with problems and cope up with any challenges in their way.

 Causes of Drug Addiction

The reasons why people get addicted to drugs has not been fully understood but scientists argue that it might be due to physical, circumstantial, physical, and emotional factors. Addiction to drugs leads to substance tolerance where an addicted individual requires larger and more frequent consumption of the substance to experience the same effect they used to with time.

Often, when one hears of addiction they tend to think of illegal drugs like Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and many others. However, prescription drugs such as painkillers can be addictive too, especially if not taken as per the instructions by the physician.

Signs of Drug Problem

The signs of a person who is having a problem with drugs and alcohol are serious issues that should never be ignored or taken lightly. If left unattended, it often leads to drug dependence. Because of this, it is very vital to comprehend the signs of drug abuse early enough.

There are professional ways of helping someone who is using drugs, but you must be sensitive and never jump to conclusions.  If you are having sleepless nights due to your own substance use or that of your relative, friend, or colleague, here are some alerts;

  • One continues to consume prescription drugs even after they are no longer needed as per the health physician instructions or you no longer have the health problem.
  • One experiences painful withdrawal when they fail to take the drug. They include a severe headache, depression, insomnia, stomach pains, and many others. One may experience fatigue and in severe situations, one may experience seizures or fever.
  • No matter how big the desire to quit the substance is, you are not able to stop. Despite the harmful consequences it brings to your life such as loss of employment, divorce, loss of child custody etc, you continue to use it.
  • Most of your time and money is spent on the drug or alcohol. You always think about the substance; how you can be able to get more of it, the next time to consume, and how good it makes you feel.
  • When using the substance, you get involved in risky things such as operating heavy machines or driving.
  • Whenever you don’t have the money to purchase it, you would rather steal or borrow money, just to satisfy the urge. The craving can’t wait!
  • You have become very secretive. You hide your drug use behavior from your family or friends and the effect.
  • Abuse of drugs and alcohol can lead to disagreements at work or home. You frequently get into trouble with your boss, workmates, relatives, or even neighbors. People start to complain about your behavior and your actions.
  • You have stopped performing daily normal chores like cooking, taking a bath, or even working.
  • Sleeping patterns have changed. You are either experiencing insomnia or you sleep too much as compared to how you used to sleep before.
  • Eating patterns change due to abuse of drugs. Consumption of some drugs will make you extra hungry and hence eat a lot of food, but others make you lose your appetite.
  • Change of friends. You start hanging out with friends whom you consume substances with. Also, you begin to go to different places to consume the drugs.
  • One goes to different doctors to get prescriptions for a similar health problem or the same drug.
  • One will start searching for other people’s cabinets for substances.
  • You have stopped following doctor’s instructions and you even take the drugs with alcohol or other drugs.

Symptoms of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Recognizing the signs of drug addiction can be difficult than it seems. Understanding the signs of drug and alcohol addiction will assist you in knowing when to intervene and help your loved one. Addicted people are highly secretive, and in most cases, they will deny when asked about it. A person will ignore all other areas of their life and will no longer be interested in their earlier desires and hobbies.

One lacks control over their capability to stop the abuse of drugs and their behavior changes. Addiction to drugs affects the physical aspect of a person, moods, perception of things around them, and the behavioral aspect. Drug and alcohol health specialists and physicians determine and treat substance and alcohol addiction based on the presence of various physical, emotional, behavioral, and psychological signs. They are serious alerts which once recognized should not be ignored rather given immediate medical attention.

If you are worried whether you or your loved one could be addicted to drugs or alcohol, the following are some signs of drug addiction that might help you in determining.

Physical Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Substance addiction alters the function of the central nervous system and neurological structure. The alteration is responsible for a multiple of physical characteristics of the drug addiction. Moreover, one experiences a slow decrease in the general physical health of the body due to substance addiction. The following are physical symptoms of drug addiction;

  1. Change in a person’s appearance– drug and alcohol addicted people start showing up outward signs such as dry or bloodshot eyes, pale dry skin, dilated pupils, loss of hair, and tooth decay. Also, one will have sores that are stubborn to heal.
  2. Frequent illnesses– drugs weaken the immune system making the addicted individual more vulnerable to infections such as colds, pneumonia, allergic reactions, bacterial and fungal infections. The body becomes a host of multiple potential diseases.
  • Substance tolerance– as one continues to depend on the substance, they require more of the drug to feel the same effect they used to experience before. At some point, if the addiction is not treated, the addicted person can consume high dosage of the substance which puts them at a danger of overdose.
  1. Cravings and withdrawal symptoms – one experiences a strong urge to take the drug even when they are busy. If they fail to consume the substance of their choice, they experience painful withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, weakness, fatigue, nausea, elevated heart rate, extreme nervousness, and many others.
  2. Chronic physical diseases- drug addiction after a long-time use can put one at a risk of various deadly ailments and conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, liver or kidney disease, or heart disease. Drugs which are injected using syringes can put one at a danger of contradicting HIV/AIDS if the needles are shared.

Psychological and Emotional Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Drugs contain chemicals which alter perception, distort your thinking ability, and create a strong emotional imbalance. The user is left suffering from low self- esteem and other awkward emotions. Psychological and emotional symptoms of drug addiction are;

  • Mood swings– due to the chemical imbalance caused by drug use, one experiences depression, irritability, paranoia, anxiety, and many others. Such feelings are unpredictable, come from nowhere, and disappear on their own.
  • Loss of interest in one’s pleasurable activities like swimming, watching movies, family time etc. Drugs deprive one’s emotional energy leaving the addict with little room for enjoying their hobbies.
  • Excuses and denial– people who are addicted to drugs hide their behaviour and drug use. They will deny if asked about it. If you constantly talk to them about drug use or question them, they will come up with excuses and lies to cover up their behaviour.
  • Stronger signs of mental illness – scientists claim that a big population of people having problems with drugs might be suffering from mental illness. If one uses drugs, the signs of mental illness become severe.
  • Hallucinations– when the drug addiction becomes severe, one loses the touch with the reality and began to experience hallucinations and delusions.
  • Impulsivity- as one continues to abuse the substance, they might lose their inhibitions. Also, an addict’s judgement ability is impaired making them make questionable decisions or decrease their reaction time.
  • Feelings shame and guilt– since some addicted people realize the harm their drug abuse is causing to their loved ones, they deeply feel ashamed because they are not able to quit the substance.

Behavioral Alerts of Drug Addiction

In the early stages of substance addiction, relatives and friends may not comprehend what is happening with their loved one. One may get suspicious but be uncertain due to the denial character of the addicted person. The inner emotions of addicted people can be tricky to understand, but their behavior always shows off the signs of their dependency on the substance and the tantrums it is creating in their lives. Some common behavioral signs of substance dependency are;

  • Lies and manipulative behavior- for obvious reasons, drug addicts lie about their actions. They lie about where they are, whom they are with, and what they are doing. Addicted people are highly manipulative especially if they need money for purchasing the drug.
  • Blame– they blame other people for their drug use and other life problems they might be going through. Additionally, they blame situations and life issues for their troubles.
  • The drug of choice becomes their priority. One spends a lot of time-consuming the drugs, thinking about the substance, purchasing it, and trying to nurse the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Involvement in criminal activities– many of the criminal activities addicts gets involved in include stealing money to buy the drugs or stealing the substances. Also, most drugs are illegal to possess or distribute, and hence one gets into problems with the law. However, addicted people lose their ability to make the right decisions or become impulsive which leads to other troubles like driving while under influence of a substance, domestic violence, and dangerous company.
  • Neglectful – one neglects responsibilities at work or home. Substances become their priority in life and the drug effects can make one forget about their personal obligations.

Addiction Problems

Addiction to substances and alcohol causes enormous problems in a person’s life which are far much bigger than the impacts it has on one’s health. People using drugs lose the power to manage their daily life, meet their responsibilities or attend to the needs of other people who depend on them.

As a result, their life becomes complicated and full of problems.  Relationships are broken, financial problems become the order of the day, loss of employment, legal problems, frequent victimization at the hands of legal enforcement persons and other people. Moreover, they experience helplessness because of frequent failures and disappointments.

If the addiction is not treated, one may eventually lose all they have; family, assets, dignity, or even their life. Researchers claim that people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are six times more likely to be involved in suicidal activities than people who are not using drugs. The following are types of drug addiction problems;

  1. Health problems

Any drug whether legal or illegal has got potential health problems. Drugs and alcohol use affects every part of the body from your heart to the stomach. Drug contain chemicals that weaken the immune system hence one becomes more prone to diseases. Some drugs are taken through injections. This puts one at a risk of getting HIV/AIDS if the needles are shared. Using drugs and alcohol can cause dangerous sexual behavior like unprotected sex thus maximizing the chances of getting infected with sexually transmitted infections.

  1. Physical problems

Physical problems of drug addiction vary with the type of the substance one is addicted, but all the body systems are affected. Most of the physical problems occur in the brain. Drugs alter the function of the brain and hence affect how the body reacts to the use of the substance. The physical problems occur because as one uses the drug, it constantly floods the central nervous system with chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

Physical problems that drugs and alcohol may bring are elevated heart rate, kidney damage, liver problems, respiratory complications. Additionally, one may have abdominal pains, vomiting, diarrhoea, change in sleeping and eating patterns.

Addiction to prescription drugs like antidepressants which include benzos and stimulants slow down the function of the brain. It also causes paranoia, seizures, and irregular heartbeat. Ultimately, substance addiction might lead to death. For a matter of fact, drugs are the leading cause of deaths around the globe. Drugs can also claim the lives of unborn babies end whenever they escape that, they might suffer from developmental and behavioral problems.

  1. Social problems

Addiction to substance and alcohol can be very hard to hide and as one continues to abuse the drugs, everybody aspect of their life is affected. One loses concentration, experiences mood swings, and their interests changes as the drug cravings become strong. Drug addiction causes tension and conflicts in a family.

An addicted person gradually isolates themselves from people and only hangs around people who support their behavior or friends whom they consume the substance with. They spend lots of time alone in the bathroom or office. One loses interest in social activities like family gatherings. Loneliness is a problem that might be due to substance addiction. Sadly, when they are alone, they are in high danger of committing suicide or attempt overdose on a purpose.

Drug addiction causes family problems which are worse than the problems one faces due to the substance addiction. Due to a change in behavior such as irritability, abusive, and arrogance, the spouse may isolate or file for a divorce. In other cases, due to neglect or abuse of their kids, one may lose the custody of their children.

Unfortunately, instead of the family members helping the addicted person or seeking for medical assistance from professionals, they try to cover up the addict’s behavior and deal with it privately. Afterwards, they realize that it is out of control and it needs a specialist. At that time, it might be already late, or the drug has impacted on the person permanently.

  1. Legal problems

When a person starts the struggle with substance dependence, the drug becomes their priority and it overpowers their judgment, responsibility and self-control. this can cause serious problems such as job loss, problems with the state’s law, and financial distress.

In most states, addictive substances are regulated as an effort to minimize the availability of the drugs. This is ideally done to reduce the harm the drugs have on users.  Most the federal arrests are related to drug abuse. Arrest related to illegal drugs often calls for jail time, probation, or other legal consequences.

Once arrested, your behavior will always haunt you forever. Legal problems can include;

  • Your professional license like the medical license is revoked.
  • You can lose your driving license.
  • A criminal record that contains your history of substance abuse and your jail term.
  1. Financial Problems

Legal problems often lead to the financial strain of the family, mostly in cases where the addict was the bread winner. Future potential employers can access your criminal records thus making it difficult for one to get a job in the future or getting only limited opportunities.

Also, when one is serving a jail term, they are not able to work and provide for the family which causes financial problems.  Even before one is arrested, addiction cause serious financial problems to a family and individual’s life. Drugs are expensive and maintaining the life of drug consumption can strain your pockets.

Sadly, the money for the purchase of drugs are taken from a child’s education kit, savings account, salary, and other living expenses. When tolerance develops an addicted person is forced to borrow which increases his or her debt. Financial problems are worsened by the inability of the addict to reason well and make the right decisions.

Addiction to alcohol and drugs cause financial distress due to skipped rent or mortgage payments, loss of employment, and increased debt. Vehicle repossession and home foreclosure are not uncommon with addicted people. If drug addiction is ignored and left untreated, it can completely take over one’s life.

Substance dependence greatly influences your economic stability, career hopes, relations, and family. Everybody around the addicted people; relatives, children, workmates, and friends are affected are affected. However, there are few individuals who manage the drug addiction life without facing these financial and legal problems.

  1. Behavioral problems

Behavioral problems due to drug addiction are more obvious than the health problems. One starts to have problems at work, under production, which later leads to employment loss. Students who are addicted to drugs will skip classes which leads to lower grades. The addicted person may experience mood swings, short tempers and other times they may seem anxious or depressed.

Due to the influence of the substance, an addict will always start a fight which causes physical harm to their bodies.


Dealing with a drug and alcohol addict can be stressing and uncertain. Often, they deny their problems with substance abuse, making it difficult to help them. Learn on the signs of drug addiction such a physical, behavioral, and emotional. Be certain and avoid making conclusions.  Drug addiction causes serious problems, some of which can lead to death. One may suffer from diseases such as liver problems or be at a risk of contradicting deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS.

It’s no doubt that drugs are expensive and will surely cause financial problems. Due to the behavioral changes, one can lose their job and family. If you think somebody you know is having a problem with drugs, intervene and seek help immediately. The sooner the better. Reach out to health specialists and drug rehabilitation centre.

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