There is a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms that can indicate a drug addiction problem. These will vary depending upon the specific drug and its mechanism in the brain and body as well the dose used daily, whether or not other drugs including alcohol are also being abused, underlying medical or mental health issues experienced by the individual, and how long the person has been abusing the drug of choice.
However, there are numerous signs and symptoms of drug abuse and addiction that can help family members to recognize the need for treatment when it arises.
- Increased physical illness (e.g., cold and flu symptoms) or low energy and complaints of fatigue.
- Extreme changes in eating patterns (e.g., eating far more than usual or in binges, eating far less than usual, and avoiding food completely for long stretches of time)
- Extreme changes in sleeping patterns (e.g., spending more time in bed than usual, sleeping at odd hours, or not sleeping for days on end)
- Development of chronic health disorders related to drug use (e.g., asthma and breathing complications when the drug is smoked, liver damage due to drinking, or heart problems due to heroin or stimulant abuse), including mental health disorders
- Exacerbation of symptoms of underlying medical or mental health disorders
- Extreme mood swings that vary with use of different drugs
- Extreme physical illness (e.g., withdrawal symptoms) that come on quickly and/or disappear quickly with use of the drug of choice
- Refusal to spend time with family or old friends, manage work and other commitments, manage finance effectively, or prioritize general health and wellness
if the person is unable to stop use and getting high without support, it’s a problem that requires treatment.