How to Recognize Warning Signs of an Addict

Addiction. It’s a problem that is serious and can not be ignored. The disease of addiction does not only impact the person using the substances. It hurts the people closest to the user. An estimated number of 164 million people throughout the globe have used alcohol or drugs are some point. It’s quite likely that you have known or met someone living with addiction.

However, did you have any idea they were addicted? And if you knew they had an addiction, would you have done something about it?

There are a lot of “what ifs” that might swirl around your head if you suspect you know an addict. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you are questioning whether you or a loved one has an addiction, look no further. Read on to recognize the warning signs of an addict.

Know What Ingredients Are in Prescription Drugs

If you’re looking for red flags that lead to addiction, start with your medicine cabinet. Painkillers made with opioids, such as oxycodone, are easy to get addicted to. Codeine, a common ingredient in cough medicine, can be used to make other drugs, such as “lean.”

These are just a few common examples of drugs that cause addiction. To cut out the risk factor, be sure to check prescription drugs for ingredients that can cause addiction.

Substance Abuse vs. Substance Addiction

Substance abuse and substance addiction are serious matters. But, it’s important to know the difference between them. Especially if you want to discover the warning signs of addiction.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is the use of legal or illegal drugs inappropriately. What this means is that substance abusers will use substances in a way that is not for their intended use. Some examples of substance abuse include taking someone else’s prescription drugs, using drugs to induce pleasure, or using drugs to escape reality.

Substance Addiction

Substance addiction is characterized by the drug abuser’s inability to control their drug use. This means that the addict continues to use in spite of any negative effects that may occur. The addict also requires more of the drug to feel the same effect, which is known as “tolerance.”

Types of Addictions

There is a wide range of substances or factors that can cause addiction, including:

  • Drugs, such as stimulant, opiates, and barbiturates
  • Alcohol
  • Co-occurring disorders, where the person has both an addiction and a mental disorder. It’s very important to have both treated because one can heighten the effects of the other
  • Genetics, which can predispose a person to addiction

No matter what causes the addiction, it’s important to know exactly what it is to determine the best kind of treatment.

Signs of an Addict

One commonality between all types of addiction, regardless of the cause, is that it results in change. The addicted person will act a much different way than when they are sober. The list below describes the signs and symptoms of addiction.

Changes in Behavior:

Mood Swings

One minute the addict is experiencing a high, then the next minute they are combative, irritable, or aggressive.

Lack of Interest in Activities They Used to Enjoy

If you know the addicted person enjoyed playing soccer then they suddenly stopped going to practice, it may be a sign of trouble.

Disinterest in Work or School

Sure, teenagers may go through a rough patch when it comes to schoolwork, but a sudden indifference to school functions can be a telltale sign of addiction.


Certain kinds of substances, such as opioid painkillers, can cause depression when taken over a long period of time.


Most times, addicts like to keep their addiction a secret from everyone else. If you confront an addict, they may become defensive, and even deny there is a problem.

No Motivation

The does not feel the need to continue their obligations. Their addiction may result in decreased hygiene and cleanliness.

Physical Changes

Increased/Decreased Appetite

Drugs with cannabinoids are known to increase appetite. Despite its legality in some states, it is still very possible to abuse this substance. Extreme weight loss is associated with stimulant abuse.

Slurred/Rambling Speech

“Downers” such as alcohol and barbiturates will cause slurred speech. “Uppers” like Adderall or cocaine will cause rapid or rambling speech.

Skin Deterioration

There are a variety of effects addiction can have on skin. Bruises can be a sign of an injection site. Mouth sores and rotting teeth are indicative of methamphetamine abuse.

Disheveled Appearance

An addicted person may adopt a lack of hygiene by taking fewer showers and wearing unclean clothes.

Financial Changes

Not Paying Bills on Time

The addict will buy drugs instead of prioritizing spending habits for responsibilities such as rent or bills.

Asking for Money with No Explanation

If the person you knew as financially independent begins asking for money and refuses to explain why they need it, they may be using you to feed their habit.


An addicted person may outright steal in order to get more money to purchase drugs or alcohol. If you notice prescription drugs, possessions, or money has gone missing, you may have gotten robbed by an addict.

The Next Step

Identifying the signs and symptoms of addiction is an invaluable skill. By recognizing the harmful effects of addiction, you will be more capable of helping others or yourself. You might just even save a life.

Now that you know how to spot the signs of an addict, you can take the next step. Contact us to help you or a loved one receive quality treatment.


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