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Signs Of Addiction

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a mental disorder that is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli regardless of the inevitable negative consequences.

The precise reason for why an individual develops an addiction remains unknown. There are, however, as research indicates several factors that can place an individual at increased risk for developing an addiction, which include environmental factors, genetic factors, biological factors, demographic factors, behavioral factors, and physiological factors. Depending on an individual’s substance of choice, he or she may show different signs when it comes to his or her addiction. It is not uncommon for an individual struggling with addiction to go through a period of time where he or she is moderately functional while abusing drugs and/ or alcohol, which can make noticing his or her addiction tricky. Below is a breakdown, with respect to specific substances, of examples of signs and symptoms that are commonly portrayed by an individual struggling with addiction. 

woman alone


Although alcohol is a legal substance for consumption by individuals over the age of twenty-one in America, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it is considered to be one of the most widely abused substances in the United States. Signs of alcohol addiction can include any combination of the following examples:

  • Flushed skin
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Broken capillaries
  • Excessive mood swings
  • Trembling hands
  • Depression
  • Irritability 
  • Verbally combative 
  • Loss in interest in previously enjoyable pastimes
  • Weight fluctuation 

Any individual that struggles with alcoholism will suffer from withdrawal symptoms when his or her body lacks alcohol, as his or her body has become dependent upon functioning with the presence of alcohol. 

Opioids / Heroin

Opioids are a class of drugs that include both legal pain relievers (i.e. oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone…etc.) and illicit substances, such as heroin. The legal opioid medications typically come in the form of tablets or liquid, while heroin usually comes in a powdered form. Opioid medications can be ingested orally, snorted, and/ or injected. Heroin can be ingested via the same methods as other opioids, as well as smoked. Examples of signs exhibited by an individual that is addicted to opioids can include the following:

  • Memory issues
  • Insomnia 
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Overall sedation
  • Lethargy
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Intestinal issues
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Slow breathing
  • Itching 

The specific type of opioid abused, and its method of ingestions will influence the specific signs of addiction he or she displays. 


Over the past decade marijuana has become decriminalized in several states across America. Marijuana is a cannabis-based product that often induces euphoria. Most commonly, marijuana is either eaten, smoked, and/ or inhaled. Common signs of marijuana addiction can include the following examples:

  • Slower reaction times
  • Paranoia
  • Increased appetite
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of motivation
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness 
  • Mood swings
  • Impaired coordination
  • Dry mouth
  • Memory impairment

The specific signs exhibited may vary depending on the method of ingestion, as will the type of marijuana drug paraphernalia he or she may possess (i.e. pipes, bongs, grinders, vaporizers…etc.). 


Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that is derived from the leaves of the coca plant. It can be snorted, smoked, and/ or injected. Several signs of cocaine abuse include the following examples:

  • Diminished appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paranoia
  • White powder residue under one’s nostrils
  • Overconfident
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia 
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Aggression 
  • Excessive mood swings
  • Constant nasal congestion

Snorting cocaine can lead to long-term damage to the mucous membrane inside of one’s nose.

Every individual is different and will likely exhibit his or her addiction somewhat distinctly. Several contributing factors such as one’s personal health history, the frequency one abuses drugs and/ or alcohol, the potency of the abused substances, the duration the individual abused drugs and/ or alcohol, the presence of any co-morbid disorders, the age of the individual, and whether he or she abused multiple substances simultaneously can exacerbate or minimize the portrayal of certain signs associated with his or her addiction. 

Further Information

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous.

If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. 

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