Recognizing When Someone Has An Addiction

Recognizing Someone's Addiction - Freedom From Addiction

At times, the red flags are so apparent, that it would be difficult for anyone to miss when someone is abusing alcohol or drugs. Other times, the signs might not be so obvious.

Very often those struggling with substance abuse go out of their way to hide their addiction. Sometimes they are more successful than others.

There are many potential signs that an individual might be abusing drugs. Please remember that any one of these signs does not necessarily mean they are using drugs. Each drug will present its own unique set of indicators, but here are some general things to look for:

  1. Excessive weight loss or weight gain.
  2. Drastic change in appetite, such as eating a lot more or a lot less than usual.
  3. Apathy, loss of interest, and a lack of passion or energy in previous interests and hobbies.
  4. Changes in appearance – the person may seem less attentive to grooming as they typically are.
  5. Physical signs, including Sniffling, Blood-Shot Eyes, Needle Marks on Arms or Legs, Constant Itching, or Puffy Face.
  6. Rapid and unusual mood swings.
  7. Paraphernalia such as Bongs, Mirrors or Glass Surfaces, Burnt Spoons, Razor Blades, or Syringes.
  8. Isolating Behavior: The person may begin to spend a lot of time in bathrooms or their bedroom, anywhere where they can be alone for long periods of time.
  9. Change in speech and content: The individual may have changes in speech such as rapid speech or slurred speech.
  10. Drastic changes in sleeping habits: The person may begin sleeping for long periods of time or oversleep regularly or they may be able to stay awake for extended periods of time with excess energy.
  11. Runny nose all the time.
  12. Paranoia.

If you notice that someone is neglecting their responsibilities, if they have developed tolerance, or might experience withdrawal if they stopped, if their use is causing significant impairment (clinically or functionally) i.e. health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home, these all might be evidence of a substance use disorder. According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of substance use disorder is based on evidence of impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria.

If you or someone you know is experiencing addiction, developing an adequate treatment plan is essential to achieve recovery. A free service like Freedom From Addiction can be of help to explore the different treatment options available. For 24/7 assistance, call 1.855.RECOVER or 1.855.732.6837.


Dr. Rachel Needle has specialized training in the area of substance use disorders. She is a professional consultant to substance abuse facilities and assists them in expanding and enhancing clinical programming. Dr. Needle also does expert training on the topic of substance abuse, mental illness, and sexual health for staff members at residential and outpatient facilities that specialize in alcohol and substance use disorders. 

| Facebook: Dr. Rachel Twitter: @DrRachelNeedle

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