Signs & Symptoms of Addiction

Even though there are several different types of addictions, there are common physical and psychological processes involved in all addictive behaviors. Most addicts are known to show similar behavior patterns and therefore it becomes easier to provide support and help to get them out of this mess. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that you may be addicted even if you don’t exhibit any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • An Increase in Tolerance: As you engage more consistently in addictive behavior, you tend to keep getting used to the addictive substance. This therefore leads the person to want more in order to get the desired effect. This keeps them from giving up the habit easily.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: When the addictive behavior ceases, this can give rise to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, often the opposite of the effects of the addiction of choice.
  • Loss of Control: The addict is unable to control his behavior or cut down on his addiction, despite knowledge of the dangers involved.
  • Jeopardizing of Relationships: At some point, the addiction takes over all areas of life, and social and occupational relationships begin to break down and suffer. The addict starts shirking all responsibility and lives a life of oblivion. Recreational activities that were appreciated in the past are now forgotten.  There is more time spent on the addiction rather than on other important things
  • Preoccupation with the Addiction: Time is spent planning the addictive behavior, engaging in it or recovering from it. While in the past the substance of addiction enhanced other experiences and activities, now it is the activities and experiences that are planned to enhance the addictive behavior.
These symptoms are experienced only by the addict and can be recognized mostly by him. On the other hand, other people notice many other signs of addictive behavior. If you suspect someone you know may have an addiction, look for the following signs:

  • Extreme and unexplained mood swings that are commonly seen in the individual.
  • Excessive sleep during the day / sleeping more or less than usual
  • Sharp changes in energy levels that could range from overly energetic to very lethargic
  • There will also be sudden weight loss or weight gain in the individual
  • Chronic cough or runny nose
  • Looks unwell at certain times and healthy at other times
  • Pupils of the eyes could be more dilated or smaller than normal
  • The individual will be involved in secretive behavior
  • Constantly telling lies
  • Stealing / Money keeps going missing
  • May suddenly have lots of money and at other times have none at all
  • New groups of friends
  • Loss of old friendships
  • The presence of drug paraphernalia
It is important to realize that most of these signs may not necessarily point to addiction and could have other explanations as well. Be cautious about jumping to conclusions too quickly, but be wary at all times, so that early detection of a problem is possible and effective treatment measures can be taken at the earliest. 
Frequently asked questions
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