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Signs of Addiction

The Physical, Emotional, and Behavioral Signs of Addiction

Substance use disorders carry the potential to ruin a person’s life. Alcoholism and drug abuse are dangerous and numerous signs can point to a problem. Understanding the signs of drug and alcohol addiction can be very helpful in recognizing when you or someone else needs help.

At Vogue Recovery Center, our team of licensed and certified addiction treatment counselors can help you get your life back on track. Through our full continuum of recovery programs, you or a loved one can understand the hazards of addiction and take the necessary steps to reclaim your body and mind.

Physical Signs of Short-Term Drug and Alcohol Abuse

There’s no set list of signs and symptoms for drug and alcohol abuse because each substance carries its own dangers. But there are, according to the Mayo Clinic’s research, a few common things to look out for that could indicate a loved one is abusing drugs and alcohol.

Here are some common physical symptoms of substance abuse:

  • Changes in weight
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Blushing or flushing of the face
  • Red, glassy eyes
  • Poor coordination
  • Runny nose
  • Abnormal pupil size
  • Poor hygiene

Remember, these symptoms do not necessarily indicate a drug or alcohol problem. A loved one may have one or more of the above symptoms and not have a substance abuse disorder. If you notice these symptoms, the best course of action is to ask your loved one if they’re using drugs or alcohol, and, if yes, find them the help they need.

Emotional and Behavioral Signs of Drug Addiction

Common Abused Drugs

Along with physical signs of addiction, there are emotional and behavioral signs that someone is abusing drugs and alcohol. These changes can have severe consequences in a person’s daily life, making even normal tasks seem impossible.

Here are some common emotional and behavioral signs of addiction:

  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Financial problems
  • Lack of interest in prior hobbies
  • Changes in friend groups
  • Acting secretive

The Dangers of Long-Term Substance Abuse

Long-term substance abuse can have severe and wide-ranging consequences. It can affect all aspects of your physical, mental, and social well-being. Here are some of the common dangers associated with long-term substance abuse:

Physical Health Complications

Prolonged substance abuse can lead to a range of physical health issues. Long-term alcohol abuse can damage your liver, leading to cirrhosis, hepatitis, or liver failure.

Drug abuse can cause:

  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Respiratory issues
  • Compromised immune function
  • Organ damage
  • An increased risk of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS

Mental Health Disorders

Substance abuse is often found with co-occurring mental health disorders. Long-term substance abuse can worsen or trigger these mental health conditions. The presence of co-occurring mental health issues complicates treatment and can negatively impact your overall quality of life.

Cognitive Impairment

Chronic substance abuse can result in cognitive impairment and decreased brain function. It can lead to issues such as:

  • Memory problems
  • Impaired judgment
  • Decreased attention and concentration
  • Difficulties with problem-solving and decision-making

Social and Relationship Problems

Long-term substance abuse often leads to strained relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners. It can cause:

  • Conflicts
  • Lack of trust
  • Communication breakdown
  • Social isolation, as you prioritize substance use over meaningful social interactions and hobbies

Addiction can result in legal troubles, including arrests, fines, and incarceration due to drug-seeking or drug-related offenses. Additionally, long-term substance abuse can cause financial hardships, as you may spend significant amounts of money to support your addiction or lose your job due to decreased productivity or attendance.

Increased Risk of Overdose and Death

Long-term substance abuse significantly raises the risk of overdose, especially if you develop tolerance and require higher doses to achieve the desired effects. Overdoses can be fatal. The risk is higher with substances like opioids, sedatives, and stimulants.

Common Drugs and Their Signs of Abuse

One of the things that makes drug addiction so challenging is the large number of substances and their wide-ranging signs and symptoms of abuse. Some drugs have similar signs and symptoms. Others are total opposites.

Here are some of the most-used substances and their signs and symptoms of abuse:

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is one of the most abused substances. Anyone over the age of 21 can purchase alcohol, and it’s available almost everywhere. Restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and more have alcohol for sale, and that makes it difficult to avoid.

Some signs that someone is abusing alcohol include:

  • Binge drinking or drinking every day
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • An alcohol-related arrest like a DUI
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships with family or friends
  • Disinterest in former hobbies
  • Increased tolerance to the effects of alcohol

Getting help right away for alcoholism is important as withdrawal symptoms following excessive and prolonged use can be life-threatening.

Opioid Abuse

Opioids are a powerful medication used to treat pain. They carry a high risk for abuse and overdose. The sign and symptoms of opioid addiction include:

  • Behavioral changes – Someone may be more secretive or have unexplained mood changes. They may exhibit increased irritability, agitation, anxiety, or depression. They may also experience intense euphoria or a sense of calm when under the influence of opioids.
  • Physical changes – These can include small pupils, drowsiness, slurred speech, impaired coordination, or sudden weight loss.

Like with other drugs and alcohol, those who abuse opioids sometimes go to great lengths to acquire them. Because they are prescription drugs, if you notice someone visiting different doctors to receive medication, it could be a sign of opioid addiction. Opioids can be taken by mouth, but some users choose to inject the drugs to increase the effects. Finding syringes, cotton balls, or spoons among someone’s items could indicate they’re abusing pain medication.

Benzodiazepine Abuse

The signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse may vary depending on how the drug is used. For example, some people take it orally, while others inject or snort it.

Common signs of benzodiazepine abuse include:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination and balance
  • Impaired judgment
  • Difficulty concentrating

 In more extreme cases, benzodiazepine abuse may lead to physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and even seizures.

Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana abuse can have a variety of effects not only on the user’s mental and physical health but also on the way they function in society. Cannabis is often seen as a gateway drug, meaning users who try it may feel compelled to try other drugs. Marijuana is also known by the names cannabis, pot, and weed.

Common signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse can include:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Impaired coordination
  • Increased appetite or cravings for food
  • Sleepiness
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia or anxiety
  • Coughing or respiratory problems
  • Decline in academic performance or work productivity
  • Financial difficulties
  • Relationship problems

Longer-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction and other serious health issues.

Marijuana users may also experience psychological effects, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Impaired decision-making skills
  • Disrupted learning abilities
  • Decreased motivation and energy levels

Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine can cause many physical and psychological signs and symptoms. The drug is a powerful stimulant that carries a high potential for physical dependency.

Physical signs of cocaine use include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleeping patterns

People who abuse cocaine may experience increased restlessness, nervousness, or paranoia. They may also become agitated or irritable more easily than normal.

Meth Abuse

Methamphetamine abuse can have a wide range of physical, mental, and behavioral signs.

Physical effects may include:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Deterioration of teeth and gums (meth mouth)
  • Increased risk of infection due to poor hygiene or needle sharing
  • Tremors or convulsions
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Elevated blood pressure

Changes in mental health may manifest as extreme paranoia, hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, or suicidal thoughts.

Behavioral signs of meth use may include:

  • Impaired judgment leading to risky behaviors like unprotected sex or intravenous drug use
  • Decreased motivation leading to lack of interest in personal care and grooming habits
  • Increased agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Violent outbursts
  • Compulsive repetition of meaningless tasks

When to Get Help for Addiction

Adderall and alcohol

Nobody should have to go through life struggling with addiction when there are so many options available for treatment. Vogue Recovery Center employs a team of behavioral health experts who care about the well-being of each person suffering from substance use disorders.

Our goal is to be an integral part of your recovery journey and to watch your transformation into a healthy, fulfilling life. Our levels of care are designed to reduce addictive behaviors and stop illicit drug use once and for all. They are a full continuum of care that includes detox, inpatient, and outpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs that can help you overcome a substance abuse disorder.

When you call our admissions team, a substance abuse counselor can help guide you through the process. They learn more about your situation and offer an individualized treatment program suited to your needs.

Here’s each level of care and how it can help you get sober:

  • Medical detox: The goal of detox is to get all substances out of your body. This can include uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. It’s always helpful to have a team of medical professionals overseeing detox. The team at Vogue Recovery Center understands the process and can make it safe and as comfortable as possible.
  • Inpatient treatment: Residential treatment is the most intensive treatment program for addiction as it involves you living full-time at our rehab center. Living at the facility means you can focus all your energy on getting sober. Your counselor will facilitate therapies and treatments according to your individualized treatment plan.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): A PHP offers similar structure to inpatient care, but you are free to live at home or in one of our sober living homes. You attend treatment daily for around six hours. Treatments build upon what you learned in inpatient care and help prepare you for life after drug rehab.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP): An IOP offers more flexibility in recovery than PHP. You attend treatment at our facility between 9 and 15 hours per week. The goal of IOP is to help prepare you for long-term sobriety while allowing you to tend to other obligations like family, work, or school.
  • Outpatient program: Outpatient rehab provides the most flexibility in recovery. It’s often included as part of continuing care when you complete the other levels of care. You attend treatment at our facility once or twice per week and build on the skills learned in previous programs. Outpatient rehab is about making sure you have the necessary tools and coping skills to remain sober after treatment ends.

No matter what type of drug you’re abusing, our team of addiction and mental health professionals has the skills and experience to help. Contact us at Vogue Recovery Center today, and learn more about how to recognize the signs of drug addiction before it ruins a life.


Evan Gove

Evan Gove

Evan Gove is a writing and editing professional with ten years of experience. He graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in Writing & Rhetoric. When not writing, you can find him enjoying his sunny hometown of Delray Beach, Florida.
Evan Gove

Latest posts by Evan Gove (see all)

Published by Evan Gove

Evan Gove is a writing and editing professional with ten years of experience. He graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in Writing & Rhetoric. When not writing, you can find him enjoying his sunny hometown of Delray Beach, Florida.

Medically Reviewed by Kelsey Jones, MS, LPC