7 Signs Someone is Struggling with Addiction

7 Signs Someone Is Struggling With Addiction

Addiction can manifest in numerous ways, depending on the person. However, there are sure warning signs of addiction that can apply to most people dealing with substance abuse. The following are common signs of addiction that can help you recognize when someone needs help.

1. Cravings

When someone becomes addicted to a substance, they are likely to experience intense cravings. Cravings are an incurable urge to use the drug daily up to several times a day. The urge for the substance trumps any other thoughts the person has and can cause problems in their daily lives.

2. Tolerance

Tolerance to a substance generally happens gradually with each use. However, with more potent drugs like cocaine, tolerance can occur even after one use. When someone develops a tolerance to a drug, they will need to continually increase the amount of the substance they consume at once for it to have the same effect. 

It is even possible for individuals taking prescriptions to develop a tolerance, which is why it is essential to discuss your medication consumption with a medical professional. It can be extremely dangerous when someone develops a tolerance to specific substances because it can significantly increase the odds of experiencing an overdose. 

3. Withdrawal Symptoms

Although withdrawal symptoms will vary, depending on the substance, they are generally identified as making someone feel the opposite way the substance makes them feel. 

For example, if someone is addicted to meth when they take the drug, they often feel alert and invincible. However, someone withdrawing from methamphetamines will feel tired and fatigued. How intense the withdrawal symptoms are will depend on several factors, including how long the individual has been addicted and the severity of their tolerance. 

The higher the tolerance to the substance, the longer it takes to eliminate itself from an individual’s body. However, this also depends on the half-life, or the amount of time, a substance takes to be naturally removed. 

4. Physical Dependence

Physical dependence and tolerance are often used interchangeably. However, physical dependence and tolerance are not necessarily the same. We know that tolerance is when someone’s body becomes used to the presence of the substance in its systems. Physical dependence, on the other hand, is when that substance takes the place of a normal bodily function—for example, hormone replacement. 

A common side effect of drug abuse is an increased release of serotonin and other “feel good” hormones. When this happens regularly, the body adjusts its hormone output to maintain an equilibrium. Once the body has stopped functioning normally, substance abuse is operating as an individual’s hormone production source. 

Once someone has become physically dependent even if they try to cut back on their substance abuse, they likely won’t be able to quit without assistance. 

5. Drug-seeking behaviors

Drug-seeking behavior is a significant indicator of addiction. When someone prioritizes finding a substance, they may spend an excessive amount of time and energy on this task. Depending on the person, drug-seeking behavior may not be apparent. Below are some physical symptoms of addiction that may be easier to spot: 

  • dilated or pinpoint pupils 
  • bloodshot or glazed over eyes
  • sudden changes in weight 
  • problems falling asleep or staying asleep 
  • unusual body odors 
6. Financial trouble related to substance use

Another warning sign of addiction is financial trouble, as well as other behavioral changes. Substance abuse can affect people’s behavior, including their ability to concentrate or think clearly. 

Financial problems related to substance abuse are common when someone becomes addicted. The individual stops caring about their responsibilities and can only focus on the next time they get to take the substance. Generally, this can cause people to spend their time and money on obtaining more and more of their substance of choice. 

7. Increased risky behavior and neglecting responsibilities

Individuals struggling with addiction are more likely to participate in irresponsible behaviors such as stealing, lying, engaging in unsafe sex, selling drugs, or other crimes resulting in jail time. 

Additionally, people may struggle to keep up with their daily responsibilities. Substance abuse can become all-consuming, and individuals will let their obligations fall by the wayside, which is a classic sign of addiction.

What is the Difference between Addiction and Substance Abuse?

Several levels of addiction can occur, depending on the substance someone has been exposed to. Individuals can experience occasional substance abuse and not technically become addicted until they’ve continued to use the substance for a specific amount of time.

When someone initially starts to take drugs or alcohol in excess, it is typically considered substance abuse. With continued use, they then develop a substance use disorder, otherwise known as addiction. 

Common substances of abuse include:

  • alcohol 
  • opioids 
  • heroin 
  • cocaine
  • methamphetamine 
  • Adderall 
  • xanax 
  • marijuana 
8 Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol is a legal depressant. With easy access at most grocery stores, this substance is commonly abused. Depending on the number of symptoms someone experiences, their alcohol addiction can be considered mild, moderate, or severe. Signs of alcohol addiction can include: 

  • wanting to cut back on drink consumption but being unable to
  • feeling an intense craving or urge to drink alcohol. 
  • spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from alcohol use 
  • being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you consume 
  • using alcohol in situations where it isn’t safe, such as driving
  • giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies 
  • developing a tolerance to alcohol, so you need more to feel its effect.
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, sweats, and shaking, when not drinking or drinking to avoid feeling these symptoms. 
What Is Considered Too Much Alcohol?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NAAA) defines one standard drink as any of the following: 

  • 12 ounce of regular beer (at 5 percent alcohol) 
  • 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor (at 7 percent alcohol)
  • 5 ounces of unfortified wine (at 12 percent alcohol) 
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor (about 40 percent alcohol) 

Consuming more than three drinks in one sitting is considered binge drinking for women, and more than four drinks are considered binge drinking for men. 

Binge drinking is the first step to developing alcohol addiction. When someone participates in frequent binge drinking, it can escalate quickly as their tolerance to the substance increases.

Classic Signs of Opioid Addiction

The nation has faced a significant amount of opioid addiction in the last decade, also referred to as the “opioid epidemic.” Opioids define a large class of drugs that vary in potency and uses.

Some common opioids or narcotics include hydrocodone, oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin. Below are some common signs someone may be struggling with abusing opioids:

9 Opioid Addiction Signs
  • reduced pain sensation 
  • excessive drowsiness or sedation 
  • problems with memory or attention
  • constricted pupils 
  • issues with hand-eye coordination
  • depression and confusion 
  • constipation 
  • runny nose or nose sores (from snorting the drug) 
  • needle marks or track marks along the inside of the arm, or between the toes (injections) 

Other opioids that are not legally prescribed include heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil. Heroin came about as a street alternative when opioids began being prescribed too much. It is usually homemade and not very safe to consume.

In recent years, more and more heroin and other street opioids are being laced with fentanyl and carfentanil. These two opioids are 50 to 1000 times more potent than morphine and can easily cause an overdose. 

More and more cities across the U.S. are now seeing people overdose on drugs because they thought they were consuming something else. 

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine and Meth Abuse
  • constricted blood vessels (increased heart rate) 
  • dilated pupils 
  • increased body temperature 
  • decreased appetite 
  • increased activity and wakefulness

Large amounts of cocaine may also lead to bizarre, erratic, and violent behavior. Some people also report feeling restless, irritable, anxious, and paranoid. In some cases, individuals may also experience tremors, vertigo, and muscle twitches. 

Methamphetamines can cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. 

Long-term Effects of Cocaine and Meth Abuse

Continued use of cocaine can wreak havoc on many systems in the body. When someone abuses cocaine over a long period, the short-term effects of the drug—irritability, restlessness, panic attacks, and paranoia, can develop into full-blown psychosis. When someone enters psychosis, they lose touch with reality and may experience hallucinations.

When someone misuses meth for an extended period, typically a month or more, they can develop an addiction. 

Chronic meth use can result in the inability to feel pleasure unless it is caused by meth, fueling further abuse. Other symptoms of long-term meth abuse include: 

  • significant levels of anxiety 
  • increased confusion 
  • insomnia 
  • mood disturbances 
  • violent behavior 

Psychological symptoms can continue even after someone ceases taking meth, so individuals usually need assistance when stopping methamphetamine use. 

Signs of Adderall Addiction

Adderall is a prescription stimulant that is frequently misused. Other common stimulants include Rilatin and Dexedrine. 

6 Short-term Effects of Adderall
  • euphoric feeling 
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate 
  • increased breathing rate 
  • decreased blood flow 
  • increased blood sugar 
  • opening of breathing pathways 

At high doses, stimulants like Adderall can lead to dangerously high body temperatures, an irregular heartbeat, and potentially heart failure and seizures. Repeated misuse of prescription stimulants can cause psychosis, anger, or paranoia. 

7 Xanax Addiction Signs

Xanax, also referred to as Alprazolam, is a prescription depressant commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. These types of medications are only meant for short-term use and are highly addictive.

Signs of potential Xanax abuse can include: 

  • drowsiness & lightheadedness
  • headache
  • tiredness and dizziness 
  • changes in appetite 
  • memory problems 
  • joint pain 
  • problems with coordination and balance 
5 Marijuana Addiction Signs

Marijuana is a commonly used psychotropic drug in the U.S. It remains the second most used drug in the nation, after alcohol. Possible signs of marijuana addiction include: 

  • breathing problems
  • increased heart rate 
  • increased nausea and vomiting
  • temporary hallucinations
  • temporary paranoia 

Many individuals who use marijuana for an extended period report the following withdrawal symptoms: 

  • grouchiness 
  • sleeplessness 
  • decreased appetite 
  • anxiety 
  • cravings

While there is still much debate about whether marijuana is addictive, medical professionals believed that prolonged use of marijuana could cause a substance use disorder if an individual becomes physically dependent on the substance. 

6 Risk Factors of Addiction

In some cases, it can seem as though certain people are more likely to develop an addiction. Potential risk factors that can increase the likelihood of someone developing an addiction include:

  • aggressive behavior in childhood 
  • lack of parental supervision 
  • low peer refusal skills 
  • drug experimentation
  • availability of drugs at school 
  • community poverty 
Finding Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a severe condition, and it is never recommended for someone to suddenly stop taking a substance or attempt to get off a drug without professional medical advice. 

For those looking to take back their lives from addiction or trying to figure out how to help a loved one, contact Elevate Addiction Services today. 

Related Links:
Alok Krishna Md Medical Review E1609434241710
Medically reviewed by
Alok Krishna, MD

  • Overcome Addiction at Elevate Addiction Services

    Elevate is currently offering immediate enrollment in inpatient, outpatient, or telehealth programs. Reach out today to learn more.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Elevate Locations

Treatment Resources

elevate addiction services logo
Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.
elevate addiction services logo
Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.