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What Are The Four Signs Of Addiction In Women?


Clinically referred to as substance use disorder (SUD), addiction, is a complex mental health disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Addiction is a chronic psychiatric disorder characterized by the persistent, compulsive, and uncontrolled use of a drug despite harmful consequences. Research has indicated, that while addiction problems are slightly more prevalent in males, females are still affected, as their reported drug abuse rates are merely two percent lower than men. Further, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “scientists who study substance use have discovered special issues related to hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause that can impact women’s struggles with drug use.” Understanding the signs and symptoms of addiction as it presents in women can be helpful in determining whether a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder.

Warning Signs

It is difficult to isolate four warning signs that unequivocally indicate the presence of substance use disorder, as everyone is different and each person struggling with addiction has the propensity to exhibit a unique combination of signs and symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) provides examples of general signs of drug addiction in women, some of which include the following:

  • Social isolation
  • Increased drug or alcohol tolerance
  • Intense drug or alcohol cravings
  • Shift in one’s social life (e.g., creating friendships that are based on drugs or alcohol)
  • Personality changes
  • Difficulty at work or school
  • Financial hardship
  • Increased need for privacy
  • Irregular eating habits (e.g., eats excessive amounts or does not eat at all)
  • Shift in sleeping habits (e.g., periods of sleeplessness, followed by extended periods of sleep)
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and/ or pastimes

Another warning sign is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when ceasing use of the substance. If this occurs, an individual’s body is rebelling from the lack of abused substance present, which typically implies dependence. In addition to the above warning signs, there are also several physical warning signs of which to be aware. Physical warning signs may include, but are not limited to the following examples:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Skin infections
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Coughing
  • Bloody noses
  • Loss of coordination
  • Sinus infections
  • Puncture marks on the skin
  • Weight fluctuation
  • High blood pressure
  • Losing a sense of smell
  • Poor hygiene practices

The severity of symptoms will depend on several contributing factors including one’s drug of choice, the duration of one’s abuse, the potency of the abused substance, one’s personal health history, and the presence of any co-morbid disorders. 

For Information and Support 

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. 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 leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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