Addiction: Signs and Symptoms

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Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between signs and symptoms of addiction?

Symptoms can only be experienced by the person with the addiction, whereas signs can be observed by other people. If you are concerned that someone else may have an addiction, look for signs as well as symptoms.

What are common warning signs and symptoms of addiction?

Signs of addiction often include:

  • Changes in personality and behaviour like a lack of motivation, irritability, and agitation.
  • Bloodshot eyes and frequent bloody noses.
  • Shakes, tremors, or slurred speech.
  • Change in their daily routines.
  • Lack of concern for personal hygiene.
  • The unusual need for money; financial problems.

What are the long-term effects of addiction?

Addictions can take over a person’s life and if they are left untreated, they can result in a wide array of long-term problems. The following are among the many negative effects that can result from addictions and addictive behaviours:

  • Family breakdown
  • Strained or ruined relationships
  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Legal problems, including arrest and imprisonment
  • Financial problems
  • Homelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours

In addition, alcohol and drug addictions in particular are associated with a wide range of long-term physical consequences, which can be devastating and can even result in death. Long term physical health consequences that are related to substance abuse include:

  • Liver damage
  • High blood pressure, stroke and other heart problems
  • Problems in brain functioning
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gout
  • Ulcers
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Kidney failure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of numerous types of cancer

What are some of the psychological symptoms of addiction?

The following mental and emotional changes could also be signs of an addiction problem:
  • sudden changes in mood
  • aggressive behaviour
  • irritability
  • depression
  • apathy
  • suicidal thoughts

How do I know if my child is addicted?

Children are especially vulnerable to becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. Children who abuse substances tend to start young, and they usually continue abusing drugs and alcohol throughout adolescence. 

These are some of the Signs your child has a drug problem:

1 - Physical clues

Change in eating habits and unexplained weight loss or gain 

Inability to sleep or wake up at usual times

Red or watery eyes, pupils larger or smaller than a normal, blank stare, sniffing all the time

Excessive sweating, tremors, or shakes

Cold, sweaty palms or shaking hands; nausea or vomiting

Extreme hyperactivity or excessive talkativeness

2 - Sudden and sustained emotional changes

Loss of interest in the family

Signs of paranoia, such as being overly secretive or hiding behind locked doors

General lack of motivation, energy, self-esteem

Chronic dishonesty

Moodiness, irritability, nervousness

3 - A pattern of changes in school attendance and grades.

4 - Several instances of unaccountable money or unexplained loss of money.

5 - Dramatic changes in friendships.

How can I Help Someone Who Is Addicted?

In order to help someone who is addicted, there are several things that you can do. First, be supportive. You should encourage them to seek treatment and support their efforts to stay clean. If they have a family member who has been affected by this issue, then you might want to offer to help them find resources. You could also suggest that they talk to a friend or counsellor.

Why it’s important to get help for addiction?

If you suffer from addiction, you need to get help. The sooner you do so, the better off you'll be. In fact, research shows that people who receive treatment early in their recovery process have much lower rates of relapse than those who don't.

Treatment rehab centres specialise in helping people overcome addictions. They teach skills that can help you deal with cravings and manage urges. They also provide support groups and counselling sessions. These tools can help you learn how to cope with triggers and situations that lead to relapses.

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