The difficulty in looking for addiction symptoms is that, for a time, the behavior of an addict is often seen as normal (see: What is Addiction?). Someone who is addicted to drugs may simply be seen as partying more. A person who is addicted to gambling may just be seen as blowing off some steam. But in actual fact, when scrutinized, these people are really showing signs of addiction.
The first major sign of addiction or abuse is the effect the addiction has on day-to-day life. The difference between simply using a drug / behavior and abusing or being addicted to the drug / behavior is the addiction causes noticeable problems in the addict's life. A person who only gambles once a month may have to cut out lattes to make up for gambling losses, but the one of the signs of an addict might be charging every credit card to the maximum with no way of paying the money back.
Any time someone chooses an action, behavior or substance to the exclusion of all else, this person is likely an addict.
Addictive Behaviors: One of the Symptoms of Addiction
Most addicts go through a period where they deny their addiction symptoms. It is often up to those around them to spot the addiction signs early and try to persuade the addict get help. Addictive behaviors are some of the most obvious signs of an addiction.
Addictive behaviors can often be seen as obsessions or compulsions. For example, while many people enjoy a cocktail on a Friday after work, most people wouldn't mind if they skipped a Friday or two. Someone with addictive behaviors though, will feel compelled to get a drink – no matter what.
Addictive behaviors include:1
- Obsessing about the addiction. For example, always talking about it and trying to get others to do it with them.
- Seeking out and engaging in the addiction, over and over, even if it hurts themselves or others
- Not being able to control the addictive behaviors
- Engaging in more of the addiction than desired
- Denial of addictive behaviors and the existence of a problem
- Hiding of the addiction behaviors
- Failure when attempting to stop addiction; relapse
Addiction Symptoms and Signs
In addition to addictive behaviors, addiction symptoms can run deeper. Signs of addiction also exist within the addict themselves. Some of these addiction symptoms will be visible to others, while some may be only apparent to the addict.
Addiction symptoms and signs include:
- Fixation on addiction
- Loss of control over addiction
- Psychological or physiological withdrawal if not engaging in addiction
- Feeling a need to engage in the addiction more and more
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling a loss of control
- A history of abuse
- Depression or another mental illness