Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic behavioral disease marked by a preoccupation with desire for a certain substance. Most addictions start casually, but over time turn into a habit that soon becomes a compulsion. A habit is often considered an addiction when it starts to inflict negative consequences on your life, but you continue to abuse the substance anyway.

When an addiction develops, ceasing use becomes challenging. Withdrawal refers to the body’s physical longing for a substance and creates its own set of negative symptoms that often include muscle tremors, severe headaches, and anxiety.

The Most Common Signs Of Addiction Are:

  • Preoccupation with a substance
  • Strong desire or cravings for substance when it is not being used
  • Severe anxiety about not being able to have the substance

It is common for someone to begin using a certain drug or drinking alcohol in social situations. While social use may indicate substance abuse, when limited to these situations it is not always a sign of addiction. When use becomes habitual and is no longer prompted by environmental triggers, addiction may be present.


Addiction prompts a series of physical and behavioral signs and symptoms. In some circumstances, an individual may notice trends in their own behavior and health and recognize that they are struggling with an addiction. More often, friends, family members, and co-workers will notice the signs and symptoms of addiction and take action on behalf of their loved one.


Addiction will commonly prompt dramatic changes in the addict’s behavior. These changes will onset gradually, often growing more severe as substance abuse continues. Often, behavioral changes will negatively affect personal health, mental well-being, relationships and financial security.

Common Behavioral Signs Of Addiction Include:

  • Missed days of work or increased absence from school
  • Increased expenses or evidence of financial trouble
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • High level of time and energy spent using/securing the substance
  • Neglected appearance

Addiction will often prompt an individual to engage in behaviors they otherwise wouldn’t. In some situations, shoplifting and stealing, relationship strain, sexual promiscuity and job loss may indicate trouble with substance abuse or addiction.


Some individuals are at a heightened risk of struggling with addiction. Certain risk factors should be taken into account when considering the behavioral signs of substance abuse and addiction.

These Risk Factors Include:

  • A family history of addiction
  • Underlying mental health disorders
  • Onset of drug abuse at a young age
  • History of severe trauma
  • Sexual, physical or verbal abuse victim

In addition to the above behavioral issues, there are a series of physical and psychological signs that may indicate addiction. Memory lapses, mood changes and depression are highly associated with substance abuse and dependence. In some situations, a heightened tolerance to a certain drug or the need for more of a substance to reach a certain “high” may indicate abuse or addiction.

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