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Drug Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Both psychological and physical drug addiction signs and symptoms can be seen in drug addicts. Some addiction symptoms are common across drugs and users.

Many people don't know the signs of drug addiction and addiction symptoms until someone in their life admits to being an addict. In many cases, this is too late to prevent the damage addiction can do to the addict and those around them. Knowing what addiction symptoms to look for can help identify a problem early and provide the best chance at successful drug recovery.

Drug addiction describes a state where the user is no longer in control of their drug use. The primary drug addiction symptoms reflect the definition of drug addiction itself. The basic symptoms of drug addiction include:

  • An inability to stop taking the drug, in spite of multiple attempts
  • Negative consequences to the drug user and those around them caused by drug use
  • The drug user continues to take greater amounts of the drug
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug

Signs of Drug Addiction

Signs of drug addiction vary depending on the type of drug being abused. Some drugs or methods of drug use can provide obvious signs of drug addiction. An example is an addict who injects heroin. One of the obvious signs of drug addiction in this case is the presence of injection equipment like a syringe, burned spoon and lighter.

Other times, it is harder to spot the signs of drug addiction. Repeated alcohol binges, for example, might be one of the signs of drug addiction but isn't always. Signs of drug addiction have to be considered with addiction symptoms and other information to indicate whether drug addiction is an issue.

General signs of drug addiction include:

  • Secretive behavior, lying
  • Unexplained expenditures
  • Disciplinary action at work or school
  • Legal problems relating to drug use
  • Mood swings, depression, anger, aggression, violence
  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequent illness
  • Presence of drug paraphernalia
  • Using room deodorizers and lozenges to cover drug smells in the air and the breath
  • Choosing drug use over all else, giving up previously enjoyed activities
  • Engaging in risky behaviors, contracting a sexually-transmitted illness
  • Being around other drug users or trying to get others to use drugs

Drug Addiction Symptoms

Drug addiction symptoms, too, are individual depending on the type of drug and drug use method. Nasal, lung and chest problems are common addiction symptoms in those who snort or smoke drugs like cocaine or marijuana. Skin infections are common symptoms of drug addiction in those who inject drugs.

Because drug addiction is both a physical and psychological issue, both physical and psychological drug addiction symptoms can be seen (read about: physical and psychological effects of drug addiction). Drug addiction symptoms include the following:1

  • Unusual behavior
  • Change in responsiveness
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes to vital signs like heart rate, breathing and blood pressure
  • Confusion, sleepiness, coma
  • Frequent blackouts
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
  • Skin that is cool and sweaty or hot and dry
  • Infertility, sexual dysfunction
  • Heart, lung and other organ damage

article references


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next: Causes of Drug Addiction - What Causes Drug Addiction?
~ all drug addiction articles
~ all articles on addictions

Last Updated: 20 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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