Drug addiction symptoms and signs

An addiction to drugs often comes with a series of devastating side effects, which is why it is so important to understand the symptoms of drug addictions as a means of identifying and tackling this condition.

The chemically induced high which drug takers experience can act as a way of escaping problems and cause you to feel confident and relaxed. However the more often you take the drug, the more tolerant you become towards this and its effects. This means that you will need to take increasingly higher doses of the drug and on a more frequent basis, in order to experience a better ‘high’. This can then lead to you becoming either psychologically or physically dependent on the drug.

If you think that a friend or relative is suffering from a drug addiction, they may be experiencing problems within their relationships as a result of their addiction, and may be encountering financial trouble, especially if they are taking illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Taking large amounts of drugs, either legal or illegal, is an expensive habit which can then cause greater stress due to the financial burden that this creates.

Signs and symptoms of drug addiction

Those with a drug addiction will often experience the following symptoms:

  • Taking drugs for stress relief on a regular basis is often the trigger for many of those who eventually become addicted

  • Increased tolerance towards drugs - consuming more and more of the drug will eventually lead to an increased tolerance to this. Therefore in order to feel the initial ‘high’ that the substance brings, those who are addicted will need to take even more to feel the effects

  • If the sufferer is already experiencing anxiety, stress or depression as an underlying issue, it is often the case that the consumption of drugs will exacerbate this pre-existing condition, leading to anger and even physical violence

  • Appearance of withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, anxiety and feeling shaky or emotionally volatile, can occur if the sufferer hasn’t taken drugs after a certain period of time

  • Feeling clammy and sweating without reason. For example, not having physically exerted yourself but sweating regardless

  • Weight loss or gain due to lack of/increase of appetite caused by drug consumption

  • Headaches caused by dehydration, a side effect of excessive drug consumption

  • Lack of sleep due to headaches, dehydration, nausea etc.

  • Feeling nauseous if you haven’t taken any drugs over a certain amount of time

  • Lack of concentration at work, home and any other aspects of your life as the addiction has become your main priority

How to spot the signs of a drug addiction

If you're concerned about a friend or family member, look for the following symptoms that are often causes by a drug addiction:

  • Lack of interest in work or education

  • Changes in physical appearance

  • Changes in physical health

  • Changes in behaviour

  • Changes in spending habits

Additional emotional symptoms of drug addiction

Alongside the physical symptoms, people with a drug addiction often experience several emotional symptoms such as:

  • Impatience

  • Anger and irritability

  • Feeling tearful and emotionally tired

  • Increased or reduced sleep

  • Feeling nervous and on edge

  • Anxiety

  • Social isolatiom

6 tips on dealing with the initial stages of drug addiction

  1. Spot the signs – if you are experiencing any of the above emotional or physical symptoms, it may be that you have developed a harmful drug addiction
  2. Speak to a trusted friend or relative about your concerns and habits
  3. Consider any negative influences within your social circle
  4. Make sure that you live in a positive environment
  5. Remove any temptations
  6. Set yourself a target and take small steps to achieve this

If you would like further information about addiction and the treatment options available then please call: 0808 301 4824.