The signs and symptoms of addiction

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Page clinically reviewed by Dee Johnson (Mbacp, MNCS), Addiction Therapist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford in March 2024.

At Priory, we recognise that addictions can have a detrimental effect on a person’s life. Addictions and addictive behaviours can result in unpleasant and distressing symptoms and a range of long-term consequences. These can include the breakdown of relationships, reduced work performance and poor physical health.

We understand that seeking help is a crucial, but often difficult initial step to take. Our national UK network of Priory hospitals offer a free initial assessment for your addiction, allowing you to address your issues in a confidential and supportive environment, and plan how we can support you every step of the way towards rehabilitation and recovery.

What are the signs and symptoms of an addiction?

The signs and symptoms of addictions can vary from person to person and can also depend on the type of addiction you're struggling with. However, there are several signs and symptoms that are common to most types of addiction. These include:

  • Secretive or dishonest behaviour
  • Poor performance and/or attendance at work or school
  • Withdrawing from responsibility and socialising
  • Isolation
  • Losing interest in activities, hobbies or events that were once important to you
  • Continuing to use the substance, or engage in certain behaviours, despite the negative consequences that these cause
  • Trying but failing to reduce or stop misusing a substance, or engaging in certain behaviours
  • Taking risks - these might be legally, financially, in relationships and with your physical and mental health
  • Mood swings
  • Increased temper
  • Tiredness
  • Paranoia
  • Defensiveness
  • Agitation
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Poor judgement
  • Memory problems
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Exacerbation of any existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or stress
  • Lack of concern over physical appearance/personal hygiene
  • Altered sleep patterns - sleeping too much or not getting enough sleep
  • Being more prone to illnesses, and getting ill more often
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Free addiction assessment

We recognise that reaching out for help can be daunting. That’s why we offer a free assessment with a Priory expert at your nearest Priory hospital. Call our dedicated team today to arrange an assessment.

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Long-term effects of addictions

Addictions can take over a person’s life and if they are left untreated, they can result in a range 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, 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 heart problems
  • Problems in brain functioning
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gout
  • Ulcers
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Kidney failure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of numerous types of cancer

Despite the distressing symptoms and negative long-term consequences that are associated with all forms of addictions, it's important to understand that these conditions are treatable, and the most crucial first step is to seek expert help for your addiction. At Priory, our highly qualified addiction experts are dedicated to empowering you to tackle your symptoms, address the underlying causes and triggers for your addictive behaviours, repair past damage, and take steps towards a full and sustainable recovery.

Private medical insurance

We are a registered and approved provider for all of the UK's leading private medical insurers. All of the services that we offer at Priory can be funded through private medical insurance. This includes:

  • Mental health treatment
  • Addiction treatment
  • Eating disorder treatment

All clients will have access to our highly skilled and accredited clinicians, many of whom are published experts in their fields of treatment. Whatever your requirements, we are committed to working with you to get your life back on track.

Registered and approved provider

We are a registered and approved provider for all of the UK's leading private medical insurers.

Addiction treatment near me

We have addiction treatment centres located throughout the country, ensuring that you can access the support you need in a location that's convenient for you. To find your nearest addiction treatment centre, please use the search form below.

Contact us to make an enquiry or for more information

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