Addiction Signs

Symptoms and Indicators of Substance Abuse

It is important to understand that each individual has a unique experience with his or her own addiction. However, there are telltale symptoms and signs of addiction that can be easily identified to determine whether drug treatment is warranted. Most addicts will have at least some, if not all, of the addiction signs outlined in this article.

The more common symptoms seen in addicts fall into five basic categories:

  • Withdrawal - When the individual is unable to gain access to the substance that he/she is abusing, he/she will experience additional symptoms of physical sickness that can compel him/her to want to use again to relieve those symptoms.
  • Control - When the individual is unable to control, reduce, or stop his/her use of the addictive substance.
  • Tolerance - When the individual needs to consume more of the substance over time in order to achieve the effect or "high" that he/she wants to experience.
  • Social Behavior - When the individual arranges his or her social life and other activities around an addiction to the point where he/she sacrifices things that were once important or pleasurable, such as a job, family, or friends who do not share in the substance abuse lifestyle.
  • Obsession - When the individual reaches the point of being completely consumed with the thought of obtaining and using the substance to the point where nothing else matters.

There are outward signs that professionals or even family members and friends can identify in a person who is an addict. The symptoms listed above may be easy to spot; however, unless the person tells you about his/her experience and what he/she is going through, it can be difficult to know for sure. These signs can be helpful in identifying a person who may need at least a professional evaluation to determine whether drug treatment is required. Some addicts will display these signs, while others will not. It is important to realize that addiction is a unique experience for every individual, which is dependent upon a number of factors.

Some of the addiction signs to look for include: changes in sleep patterns, either more or less throughout the day and night; change in weight, either a loss or a gain; changes in mood, switching quickly from happy to sad or angry to excited, etc.; changes in activity, either extremely energetic or overly tired all of a sudden; changes in behavior, such as stealing, lying or acting secretive; changes in health, such as being really healthy one day and very sick the next; changes in friends, such as new friends appearing and old friends dropping off; changes in finance, such as being completely broke one day, then being flush with cash the next. Other more obvious signs include: the presence of drug paraphernalia, such as scales, rolling papers, or strange pipes; drugs being hidden in stashes, such as foil, paper, or plastic packaging; and dilation of the pupils, where the pupils appear larger or smaller than is normal.

It is important to be careful in assuming that a behavior is a sign of addition. Some of these "signs" may have honest reasoning behind them. One example would be health issues causing a fluctuation in energy or sleep patterns. Another would be changes in friendships due to other, more positive changes in the individual's life. Unfortunately for parents, many of these signs can easily describe the strange behavior of a typical teenager, making it hard to discern whether these behaviors are "normal" or suggestive of an addiction. It is important to proceed with caution when discussing substance abuse or addiction with teenagers unless there have been undeniable, physical signs i.e. the presence of drug paraphernalia or actual drugs. You don't want to alienate your teen and accuse them of something they haven't been doing.

Crystal Methamphetamine Addiction

It is also important to know specific information about the signs to look for in someone who has a crystal methamphetamine addiction. Just as each individual displays his or her own distinctive set of symptoms and signs of substance abuse, each type of substance that can be abused has its own particular set of symptoms and signs. Because of the way it goes to work on the body's central nervous system, many of the symptoms related to crystal meth can be hard to see at first, but will become more apparent as the abuse continues on into a full blown crystal methamphetamine addiction. Some of the physical signs to look for include: a noticeable dryness of the mouth, with lips that sometimes appear to be a dark bluish-black in color as well as a deterioration of dental health; eyes that appear sunken or baggy; and a drooping or change of color in the face.

Personality and behavioral signs of crystal meth addiction can be much easier to spot and can include: compulsive behaviors that can seem like bipolar disorder, ADHD, or even OCD; or moments of extreme depression followed by extreme "highs" of excitement and happiness that are contrary to the person's normal behavior. When an individual is actually high on crystal meth in what is known as the "tweaking" phase of use, there will be many other contrary behaviors displayed. These can include: irregular patterns of sleep; loss of interest in daily life; an almost incomprehensible rambling or incessant, very fast way of talking; a false sense of confidence; or a condition known as "nystagmus," which is when the eyes jerk back and forth from side to side in an uncontrollable and irregular pattern.

Another sign that was mentioned above that applies to cases of crystal meth addiction is finding new friends that are also users of crystal meth or pulling away from old friends completely. In addition to changing or abandoning friends, these individuals are also known to stop doing things that were once important to them, such as jobs, hobbies, chores, or other interests. Many will even stop with personal grooming habits, exhibiting displays of extremely poor hygiene. Changes in personality can also turn angry and violent, with many crystal meth users becoming physical with friends or family that try to intervene or stop them from using. These individuals will also become much more willing to participate in activities that are illegal or contrary to their normal behavior in order to get money to buy more drugs.

If you have a friend or family member that you suspect is showing signs of crystal meth addiction or addiction to some other substance, it is important that you get them to consult with a professional to determine if they need to receive drug treatment or some other type of intervention. Remember to be cautious in your assessment of the individual, but to be aware and pay attention to the signs of addiction.

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