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Article Summary

Drug Addiction Symptoms

The list of behavioral and physical drug addiction symptoms is long and varied. When someone is addicted to drugs, there are a few general warning signs that point to the problem. These could be drug addiction symptoms that you should assess either in yourself or in the person you’re concerned about. Denial is rampant with addition so as you make the assessment try to be as honest and objective as possible. Also try to think about how things have progressed in the last six months. Are there more signs now then there were six months ago? Typical drug addiction symptoms may include personality changes, withdrawal from normal activities, mood swings, defensiveness, apathy and anxiety. Physical symptoms of addictive behaviors may constitute a change in appearance, loss of appetite, fatigue, dilated pupils, slurred speech and irregular heartbeat.

Addicts will continue to use regardless of everything that is happening to them and around them. They may drain the family bank account, lose their job, fail in school, damage relationships, ruin their health, or run into problems with the law. If you are questioning your own drug use, ask yourself some questions. Have you developed a higher tolerance for the drug? Does it take more and more of your drug of choice to get the desired effect?

Addiction Symptoms Checklist

1. Frequent intoxication
• Does the person report or appear to be frequently high or intoxicated?
• Do recreational activities center around drinking or other drug use, including getting, using, and recovering from use?

2. Atypical social settings
• Does the immediate peer group of the individual suggest that substance abuse may be encouraged?
• Is the person socially isolated from others and is substance abuse occurring alone?
• Is the person reluctant to attend social events where drugs won't be available?

3. Intentional heavy use
• Does the person use "social drugs" with prescribed medications?
• Does the person use more than is safe in light of other medications they may be using, or because of compromised tolerance due to illness or disability?
• Does the person have an elevated tolerance as evidenced by the use of large quantities of alcohol or other drugs without appearing intoxicated?

4. Symptomatic drinking
• Are there predictable patterns of use which are well known to others?
• Is there a reliance on chemicals to cope with stress?
• Has the person made lifestyle changes while drug use has stayed the same or increased? (eg. changed friends or moved to another area)

5. Psychological dependence
• Does the person rely on drugs as a means of coping with negative emotions?
• Does the person believe that pain can't be overcome with without medication?
• Does the person obviously feel guilty about some aspect of their use of alcohol or other drugs?

6. Health problems
• Are there medical conditions which decrease tolerance or increase the risk of substance abuse problems?
• Are there medical situations which are aggravated by repeated alcohol or other drug use?
• Did the person ever suffer an accident or disability while under the influence, even if it is denied by the person?

7. Job problems
• Is the person underemployed or unemployed?
• Has the person missed work or gone to work late due to use of alcohol or other drugs?
• Does the person blame the drinking on work related problems?

8. Problems with significant others
• Has a family member or friend expressed concern about the person's use?
• Have important relationships been lost or impaired due to drug use?

9. Problems with law or authority
• Has the person been in trouble with authorities or arrested for any alcohol or drug related offenses?
• Have there been instances when the person could have been arrested but wasn't?
• Does the person seem angry at "the system" and at authority figures in general?

10. Financial problems
• Is the person's spending money easily accounted for?
• Does the person frequently miss making payments when they are due?

11. Belligerence
• Does the person appear angry or defensive but doesn't know why?
• Is the person defensive or angry when confronted about drug use?

12. Isolation
• Does increasing isolation suggest heavier substance abuse?
• Is the person giving up or changing social and family activities in order to use?

13. Drug Paraphernalia
• Possession of hypodermic needles, balloons, aluminum foil wrappers, mirrors or flat metal, short straws, glass pipes, smoking pipes, capsules, vials, or folded paper envelopes, or a cigarette lighter (or small butane torch) when carried by a known "non-smoker" may indicate drug use.

People may become high on drugs or overdose without anyone noticing their drug addiction symptoms. The other side of drug addiction is withdrawal. Drug withdrawal symptoms can occur when a person stops or reduces their use of a substance. Withdrawal symptoms vary, depending on the abused substance. In the end, if you feel that someone you care about is displaying drug addiction symptoms it is better to start a dialogue with them than to stand by and carefully watch for signs of drug use.

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