The Warning Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse or Addiction

Like all other medical conditions, addiction is a condition. It can be difficult to identify the signs and symptoms of addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a chronic disease that affects brain functions such as motivation, reward, and memory. People addicted to something will often engage in behaviors that help them fulfill their addiction.

Addiction can be characterized by a lack of control, an inability to stop using substances or engaging in certain behaviors, a decrease of social interaction, or even physical symptoms like withdrawal. The severity of these symptoms depends on how long the addiction has been going. This article discusses various addictions and their signs.

Addiction Types

ASAM defines addiction correctly as a condition where an individual cannot abstain from certain behaviors or substances to the detriment their mental and physical health. Substance abuse or addiction, for example, can include any or all of the following.

  • Alcohol;
  • Inhalants such as aerosol paints, cleaners and other aerosol products.
  • Nicotine;
  • Drugs – whether illicit or not;
  • Medication.

Research has shown that behavioral addictions can be just as dangerous as substance abuse. Both medical conditions cause dependency and negative consequences. These include:

  • Gambling;
  • Working;
  • Sex;
  • Video games etc.

How to recognize the warning signs of addiction or substance abuse

You should be on the lookout for warning signs at different stages. They include:

How to Identify Initial Signs

These signs are not necessarily signs of a full-blown drug addiction, but they can be considered as early warnings. These include:

  • Experimentation;
  • The family history of the addiction.
  • A person who is particularly interested in a particular activity or substance.
  • Binge sessions or losing control without feeling remorse.

Changes in Personality

These changes in behavior and personality are likely to occur after you have moved from the initial phase of addiction. These signs include:

  • The perceived absence of interest in previously necessary activities for such a person.
  • Abandoning or reaching out to others who have personal relationships with this person.
  • When you miss important obligations, such as work and
  • Continue to risk your life to engage in these behaviors.

Such a person may begin to associate with others who are similar to them. This alienates them from the people they once knew.

Changes in Health

Another warning sign is a drastic change in health. The health of an addict will decline, whether it is a behavioral or substance addiction. Signs include:

  • Glazed or bloodshot eyes;
  • Contact illness;
  • Unexplained injuries
  • A significant change in weight;
  • Memory loss;
  • Hair, skin and teeth problems;

Mental and emotional changes include:

  • Aggressive behavior;
  • Irritability;
  • Depression etc.


To cure these addictions, you should seek professional assistance. These addictions can have a ripple effect on your mental state, as they not only affect a part of it but also your overall well-being. It can negatively impact your productivity, your social relationships and your finances. Seek help if you or anyone else is experiencing such a situation.

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