Signs & Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of addiction
Taking a good, hard look requires honesty and compassion. The fact is: addiction —and the signs and symptoms—vary widely.
Even “a little” is too much for some people. For others, a seemingly “mild” problem can escalate into a more severe addiction. No matter what your symptoms, if substance use is causing problems, you can make changes to improve your life.
These four symptoms* are common among those with a more severe addiction:
- Craving – having a strong need or urge to drink or use.
- Loss of control – feeling unable to stop drinking, or using a drug, once you start.
- Physical dependence – experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping or trying to stop, such as: nausea, sweating, shakiness or anxiety.
- Tolerance – needing to drink or use greater amounts of alcohol or other drugs to get “high”.
*Source: SAMHSA’s National
Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
Across the spectrum
Other symptoms that you may need to address your drinking or drug use:
- Neglecting your responsibilities at school, work or home because of your use
- Using under dangerous conditions or taking risks while under the influence, such as driving or engaging in risky sex
- Drinking or drug use is getting you into legal trouble
- Drinking or drug use is causing problems in your relationships, such as arguments with your family members, an unhappy boss or the loss of old friends.
- You continue to use, despite knowing that it’s causing problems in your life.
If you think your use might be risky, learn more.
What about someone who is still high-functioning?
Dr. David Sack, an addiction specialist, has identified five tips to recognize someone who is high-functioning and struggling with a serious alcohol or other drug problem:
1.Beware of Denial - Because they don't fit the stereotype, people who are high-functioning can spend years, even decades in denial. Even if they acknowledge that they drink or use drugs more than they should, they may feel entitled to indulge as a reward for their hard work.
2. Observe Uncharacteristic Patterns of Behavior - Despite their best efforts at concealment, even the most functional of those struggling experience consequences - subtle changes in behavior, lack of focus, or physical symptoms such as insomnia or other health concerns.
3.Don't Accept Excuses - Many of those who are struggling yet high-functional have well-rehearsed excuses for every unusual behavior or slip up. Whatever the behavior, there's a well-reasoned justification that sets everyone at ease and allows the addiction to continue.
4. Watch for a Double Life - To the outside world, it may appear that the individual has it all. Inside, they may be plagued by cravings, unsuccessful attempts to quit, obsessive thoughts about using and other hallmarks of addiction.
5.Don't Ignore the Signs - Someone who doesn't fit the typical stereotype can still have a very serious disease, requiring professional help.
Read the full blog post from Dr. Sack.