Drug addiction is a very serious progressive illness that is best treated as early as possible, much the same as other chronic illnesses. If left to continue its course addiction can lead the victim on a path of destruction that ultimately could cost his/her life.
Recognizing drug addiction symptoms can help to get the victim to treatment promptly and so avoid some of the damage that they might otherwise have suffered. A Californian study at UCLA found that dealing with drug addiction symptoms through effective rehab is a very smart investment. For every one US$1 spent on drug addiction treatment, $7 in financial gain was generated for the community!
Avoiding the damages of addiction can far outweigh the cost of that treatment.
One of the drug addiction symptoms that might sound obvious but could be hard to spot is chronic drug abuse. An addict may well conceal his/her their drug using and mask their behaviour. Drug addicts will use drugs no matter what the consequences – this along with the presence of withdrawal symptoms and the development of tolerance is a chief symptom of addiction.
Physical drug addiction symptoms
Using drugs has a direct effect on the brain and body. It also often has a secondary effect in that addicts will not eat properly. This is not always the case however so you should not rely on spotting an addict based on them “looking like” an addict. Also the drug addiction symptoms that do appear will differ between substances.
Here are some physical symptoms:
Pupils that are dilated (bigger) or constricted (smaller).
Loss of interest in food or disrupted sleep patterns.
Sudden changes in weight.
Deteriorating personal hygiene.
Unusual smells on breath or clothing.
Shaking, sweating, slurred speech, or being very clumsy.
Behavioural drug addiction symptoms
There are often very dramatic drug addiction symptoms that manifest in behaviour. These signs are generally due to the person needing to cover up for drug use. Here are some examples:
Skipping work or school without reason.
Financial difficulty without any good reason. The addict may start to borrow money or steal to get it.
Secretive behaviour – not saying where he/she is going or has been.
Suddenly getting a new group of friends and changing social activities.
Skirting the law or getting into trouble (e.g.: car accidents, fighting, etc).
Psychological drug addiction symptoms
Using drugs has an effect on the brain. It therefore has an effect on the psyche of the person, resulting in psychological drug addiction symptoms such as:
Changes in attitude – for example suddenly becoming either very positive or negative without reason.
Mood swings, irritability, anger.
Hyperactivity – having too much energy.
Loss of motivation, almost as if the person is sedated.
Paranoia and irrational fears – a sense that the world is out to get him/her.
Self-diagnosis and drug addiction symptoms
If you’re reading this article because you’re worried about your own drug use then rather ask yourself these questions:
Have you ever tried to stop using and found you can’t? This includes situations where you stayed clean for a few days or weeks before again starting to use drugs.
Does using drugs make you feel guilty?
Do you find that you are using drugs to avoid a specific negative emotion?
Are people around you complaining about your drug use?
Have you ever had to lie about your drug use?
Have you ever compromised your moral value system or done something illegal to get drugs?
Do you spend more money on drugs than you should?
Have you ever used one drug to counteract the effect of another? For example used alcohol to relax after using cocaine.
If you’re unsure at all about your drug use then the safest option you have is to contact one of our addictions counsellors. They are trained to assess drug addiction symptoms and recommend an appropriate solution.