10 Signs Of Addictive Behavior

If you believe that a family member is living with a substance use disorder, it is crucial to recognize the signs. Recognizing the signs of addictive behavior can allow you to know when to get help for a loved one.

A substance use disorder can be challenging to identify without understanding the symptoms of addiction. Different types of drugs cause varying physical signs and behavioral issues.

Drug or alcohol addiction can change how people look, act, and feel.

Understanding how to recognize the signs of alcohol or drug addiction is crucial to knowing when to seek help for a loved one.

1. Physical Signs

The physical symptoms of drug use vary based on the substance.

However, there are a variety of physical signs that a loved one may show that suggest they are engaging in alcohol or drug abuse.

Physical signs of addiction may include:

  • bloodshot eyes
  • changes in physical appearance
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • changes to sleep patterns
  • increased or decreased appetite
  • lack of coordination
  • vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • slurred or rapid speech
  • dizziness
  • slowed breathing
  • increased alertness
  • dilated or constricted pupils
  • involuntary eye movements
  • reduced attention span
  • sweating
  • flu-like symptoms
  • tremors

If a family member is displaying several of these physical warning signs, they may be living with substance abuse issues and may need addiction treatment.

Keep in mind that substance abuse shares symptoms with a wide variety of health disorders. Without further information, you should never assume someone is abusing drugs.

With that said, you may express concerns based on their symptoms and seek general medical attention until you have more information.

2. Behavioral Signs

The behavioral signs of drug or alcohol use also vary. Stimulants can give a person more energy, while depressants like alcohol may make them experience depression.

Additional behavioral signs of substance use may include:

  • impaired decision making
  • euphoria
  • paranoia
  • elevated mood
  • abnormal relaxation
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • confusion
  • panic attacks
  • delirium
  • violent behavior
  • restlessness
  • mood swings
  • memory loss
  • risk-taking behaviors such as driving while on drugs or while intoxicated
  • engaging in secretive behavior

If you are seeing these behavioral signs in a loved one, they may be living with addiction or experiencing another serious health problem.

3. Preoccupation With Substance Use

Those living with substance use disorders also have a preoccupation with doing drugs or drinking alcohol, which may affect their work, school, or home life as well as their overall wellness.

Preoccupation involves the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which controls decision-making and regulates actions, emotions, and impulses.

Those living with substance abuse issues experience affected executive functioning that may lead them to continue substance use.

4. Strained Relationships

Those living with a substance use disorder often experience problems with their relationships.

This may be due to secretive behaviors, strained communication due to irritability or aggression, increased tension, and withdrawal from others.

Family members or friends may also choose to distance themselves from the person abusing drugs due to changes in their personality, mood swings, or other factors.

5. Financial Struggles

Addiction is often associated with financial problems.

Illicit and prescription drugs can be costly, and as a person becomes tolerant of the substance, they may need to buy larger doses to have the same effect.

Addiction may also lead to the loss of the person’s job, which creates further financial stress.

6. Legal Issues

If a loved one is using drugs, they may be experiencing serious legal issues.

If they are convicted of a drug-related crime, they may face fines, jail time, and a permanent criminal record.

If they are caught driving under the influence, they may also be subject to license suspension or having their license revoked, jail time, fines, and court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment.

7. Increased Tolerance

Another negative consequence of substance use is increased tolerance.

An increased tolerance of drugs or alcohol can lead to the need for increased use, which can create short and long-term health issues, including mental illness, stroke, overdose, etc.

Increased tolerance can also cause intense cravings that lead to increased substance use over time.

8. Signs Of Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms are different for everyone, depending on the substance being abused, their physical health, how long they have used the substance and other factors.

However, there are some common signs of withdrawal.

Common signs of withdrawal include:

  • inability to sleep
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • fatigue
  • hallucinations
  • diarrhea
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • paranoia
  • confusion
  • disorientation
  • seizures

Drug withdrawal and alcohol withdrawal can both result in serious medical conditions. If a family member is experiencing these symptoms, seek help immediately.

9. Inability To Stop Using

A person may be living with addiction if they display an inability to stop using substances despite negative effects and consequences.

It is also common for repeated alcohol or drug use to weaken the brain in areas that help people with self-control and stress tolerance, which makes it difficult to control their drug use.

10. Emerging Health Issues

A loved one who is abusing substances may also be experiencing health issues that require attention from healthcare providers.

Emerging health issues due to long-term substance use may include lung or heart disease, stroke, mental health issues, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B or C, or other serious forms of illness.

The type of health issues a loved one is experiencing is often dependent on the type of addiction they are experiencing and the level of healthcare they have received over the years.

Help Your Loved One Get Treatment At Spring Hill

If you or a loved one is living with a substance use disorder, we can help. Contact Spring Hill Recovery Center to learn more about our addiction treatment programs.

  1. Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) https://adf.org.au/insights/understanding-aod-dependence/
  2. Health Direct https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/addiction-withdrawal-symptoms#symptoms/
  3. Indiana Department of Health https://www.in.gov/health/overdose-prevention/general-information/signs-and-symptoms-of-drug-misuse/
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/videos/why-are-drugs-so-hard-to-quit/
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/addiction-health/
  6. National Library of Medicine: Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424849/
  7. National Library of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158844/
  8. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh176/files/pubs/drugid/ration-03.html/
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_2688/ShortReport-2688.html/
  10. Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services https://www.tn.gov/behavioral-health/substance-abuse-services/treatment---recovery/treatment---recovery/prescription-for-success/warning-signs-of-drug-abuse.html/

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

Published on: February 13, 2024

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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