10 Warning Signs of Addiction

Like any disease, the sooner addiction is identified and treated, the better. Recognizing the warning signs of addiction in young adults suffering from chemical dependency is often the first step to uncovering their addiction and getting them the help they need.

  1. Changes in Physical Appearance
    Drug and alcohol use will have a recognizable impact on a young person’s body. Physical symptoms of substance abuse include:
    • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
    • Development of unusual sores on the body
    • Bruises and/or cuts
    • Burns, particularly those on hands or face
    • Facial redness or irritated skin
    • Frequently irritated eyes
    • Development of tooth decay or gum problems
    • Strange smells on clothing
  2. Sudden Health Problems
    Common health-related symptoms that can arise from substance abuse are:
    • Unexplained exhaustion/tiredness
    • Irregular sleeping patterns
    • Recurrent nosebleeds
    • Vomiting
    • Seizures
    • Headaches
    • Memory loss
    • Cotton mouth (excessively feeling thirsty thirsty all the time)
    • Constant sickness
  3. Unexplained Personality Changes
    It’s natural for personality changes to occur during the young adult years; this is the time when men and women develop their adult individuality. It’s important to look for strange, unexplained personality changes that don’t quite make sense, such as:
    • Sudden lack of motivation
    • Loss of conscience or inhibitions
    • Boisterous, loud behavior
    • Out of character withdrawal, overexcitement, or hyperactivity
  4. Mental Instability
    Drugs can sometimes trigger a psychological imbalance. This can be seen when the user begins to:
    • Hear voices
    • Perform actions driven by paranoia
    • Act compulsively
    • Lose their ability to concentrate or focus
  5. Emotional Instability
    Depressants and stimulants are designed to help improve a person’s emotions. That’s why drugs and alcohol can often activate:
    • Depression
    • Mood swings
    • Difficulties in managing anger
  6. Changes at School
    At school, the following are addiction red-flags:
    • Lateness
    • Unexplained absences
    • Problems and complaints reported by peers and/or teachers
  7. Changes at Home
    Around the house, the following are addiction red-flags:
    • Locked doors
    • Excessive use of perfumes or air fresheners/odor-neutralizers
    • Missing prescription medications, alcoholic beverages, household cleaners and other products
  8. Activities
    Substance abuse often becomes the highlight of life for addicts, overshadowing the activities that use to bring them happiness. Changes that should cause concern are:
    • Lost interest in most or all of their favorite activities
    • Breaking promises or making excuses (uncharacteristically)
    • Disappearances
  9. Change in Possessions
    Addiction often causes a person to lose sight of everything else. When looking at their living space or what they hold dear, be concerned if you notice that someone is:
    • Selling personal items for cash
    • Stealing
    • In possession of pipes or improvised drug apparatuses
  10. Relationships
    Acceptance with new friends and peers is a common reason for young people to start drinking or begin using drugs. Things to look out for where relationships are concerned:
    • New friends they don’t want you to meet
    • Increased flirtatious or promiscuous behavior
    • An abrupt breaking of long-term ties with their friends and family members

People who exhibit these 10 warning signs of addiction may be suffering from a drug or alcohol problem. If you suspect that a loved one is in need of help, don’t wait. Give us a call. We may be able to help.

Sources: CDC, The Partnership for a Drug Free America

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