How To Identify Drug Addiction Symptoms

Drug Addiction Symptoms

One in ten Americans over the age of twelve is struggling with an active alcohol or drug addiction symptoms. This is the size of the entire population of Texas. Heroin and opioid addictions are the most prevalent in America, and deaths related to overdoses from these addictive substances have increased over 300% since 2012.

The cost of drug addiction to families, society, and the country as a whole, is staggering. Drug addiction has ravaged entire communities, wrecking local economies, burdening law enforcement, and orphaning innocent children.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of drug addiction, especially in the beginning, can be crucial to getting people the help and treatment they need before the effects become devastating. The following article will list common symptoms of drug addiction and give a more detailed analysis of addiction symptoms related to specific substances.

Who Is At Risk?

Drug addiction symptoms, much like addiction itself, do not discriminate. Men, women, old and young people, and persons across socioeconomic lines can all become addicted. But there are certain risk factors that increase an individual’s chances of developing an addiction.


There is a genetic component to drug addiction. Studies have found that persons with at least one close relative with an addiction problem are at higher risk to developing a drug addiction themselves.


Environment refers to either the community someone is involved in, or their family of origin. People who are raised or otherwise living in an environment or family situation where there is active drug addiction are at an increased risk of falling into the same pattern.


Growing up or living in poverty contributes to an increased risk of developing an addiction. Also, people in lower socioeconomic brackets do not have as much margin for error as wealthier individuals. While someone in the middle or upper class can more easily access therapy and rehabilitation, and handle legal woes, someone in poverty cannot.


People who suffer from mental health disorders are at an increased risk of becoming addicted, either to legal or illegal drugs. Mental health disorders can cause an individual to self-medicate. Self-medication can worsen the mental health disorder, and comorbid drug addiction is harder to treat.

What are active drug addiction symptoms?

There are three components to drug addiction symptomatology. There are behavioral, emotional, and physical signs and symptoms. Different drugs will present with different sets of symptoms and these will be indicated, but most symptoms will be stable across different substances.

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Missing work, school, or other important events or engagements
  • Social withdrawal, isolation, or secretiveness about whereabouts and activities
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Legal problems
  • Increased interpersonal strife
  • Sudden, unexplained spending habits or financial problems

Emotional Symptoms

  • Irritability and argumentativeness
  • Loss of interest in activities, friends and family
  • Acting inappropriate, or obnoxious and childish
  • Appears easily confused
  • When confronted, offers strange excuses, justifications, and rationalizations for their behavior
  • Blame-shifting and diversion

Amphetamines or ‘uppers,’ like cocaine and meth, can make even the most docile person hostile and agitated. Also, when a user starts to come down from a high, they can lash out or become angry. To an outsider, the changes in their personality can be distressing. Any drug addiction will cause marked changes to someone’s personality.

If they do not deny behavior when confronted, they may engage in minimization, offering only superficial excuses, and/or not fully admitting to how serious their behavior and its consequences are.

Physical Symptoms

Change in energy levels

Uppers give users an increase in energy. They appear ‘hyped up,’ agitated, and unusually energetic. Prescription drugs like Ritalin and Adderall are often abused for this purpose. People will take them for that extra boost of energy and for performance enhancement.

On the contrary, heroin and opioid derivatives will have the opposite effect. The user will appear sleepy, lethargic, and slow or fatigued. They may fall asleep at strange times and in inappropriate places.

Changes in speech patterns

Opioids can cause slurred speech, the same as alcohol. A person can appear drunk, even if they do not smell like they’ve been drinking. On the other side of the spectrum, uppers, and hallucinogens like LSD can cause a user to speak rapidly, or repetitively. Syntax, diction, volume and tone of voice may change.

Dilated or constricted pupils and red eyes

The size of someone’s pupils and the color of the sclera will change depending on which drug is consumed. Marijuana, amphetamines, and hallucinogens will cause dilated pupils and red eyes. Heroin and opioids will give users constricted pupils and a glassy-eyed, hazy look, similar to what happens when someone has consumed excessive amounts of alcohol.

Weigh loss and appetite changes

Drugs will decrease users’ appetites. co-occurring sufferers of eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia, will sometimes use amphetamines to curb food cravings and hunger pains. On hallucinogens, users will oftentimes forget to eat. Dramatic, sudden weight loss can result.

  • Body odor and lack of personal hygiene
  • Sniffling, runny nose

In the absence of a cold or virus, users of cocaine and other snortable or smokable drugs, like marijuana and crack, will develop sinus issues and post-nasal drip. Users can permanently damage their sinus and nasal cavities.

Can drug addiction symptoms lead to violence?

In some cases, yes. Drug abuse and addiction can often be considered violence against one’s own body, and some drugs can make users aggressive toward others. Methamphetamine and PCP are well-known for causing hostility and criminal violence in users.

In addition, driving while impaired can cause significant damage and obstruction on the road, and risks injury to pedestrians, the user, and other drivers. In 2015, more traffic fatalities were linked to illicit drug use than alcohol use for the first time since such data started being recorded.

While someone may succeed at hiding their addiction at first, eventually, drug addiction symptoms will start to emerge. The sooner the individual is treated, the less likely they are to experience serious health risks and legal problems related to addiction.

Get Help Now

If you or a loved one are struggling with a substance abuse issue, please contact our admissions team today for a free and confidential assessment.