Symptoms and Signs of Addiction

Continued from our last article The fine line between addiction and habit.

When we catch a cold we feel the symptoms of the cold coming on, like a runny nose, etc. but other people you are around may not see the signs. What does that mean? Well let’s break down what the two are.

A symptom is a physical or mental feature that is regarded as indicating a condition of disease, particularly such a feature that is apparent to the individual. The indication(s) are only apparent to the individual.

A sign is an object, quality, or event whose presence/ occurrence indicates the probable presence/ occurrence of something else visible in plain view.

In our analogy of catching a cold, the symptoms would be evident to you with a runny nose or sore throat, but your friend may describe to you the signs of your cold as how you look pale or notice you sneezing.

As we explained in What is addiction?, one who is addicted would be classified as physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.

Whether the individual realizes or not, they can’t stop, even if it is physically hurting them. They may try to stop and will usually fail because the urge to continue is so strong and when it comes to substance addiction, the brain chemistry can become altered.

So how would you see the signs of a person who is dependent on a substance?

Signs of addiction

Here is a basic list of some telltale signs of a person who might be addicted. Remember that there may be variations in some people depending on what they are addicted to (drugs vs. pornography), their gender, temperament, family history, and what they are going through (grief, peer pressure, etc.)


It all starts here. When the individual denies even having a problem. Some are oblivious of the problem and others just do not want to face the fact that a problem exists. One of the main signs of addiction here is when they say, “I can stop whenever I want.” There isn’t much that can be done to help this individual (yet).

Secret/ Vague

When questions are asked to the individual, one may get one word answers.  Everything they do is for some reason top secret.


Some individuals want to be alone when they use as there is less pressure and they don’t have to answer to anyone which helps their case for denial.

Social issues

An individual may constantly turn down his friends or family for social gatherings. It’s easier sometimes to be alone because there’s usually a disinterest in social events or people, easier to use with less people around, and  you don’t have to explain yourself. On the other hand, if the individual has friends or family that they use with (for example : Individual goes to a child’s birthday party because they know specifically there’s going to be a keg of beer there) they won’t hesitate attending.

Sometimes they may begin to have problems with their spouse. Usually, if the spouse isn’t aware of the addiction, they will complain of not spending any time together. The distancing will cause friction in the relationship, thus add to the users problems.

Loss of interest

Many people have hobbies like music and sports. One of many signs of addiction can be when one becomes disinterested in their favorite pastimes. Be careful to notice if something else significant has changed like longer hours at work or a new intimate relationship.

Coping mechanism

Rather than coping like most in society, an individual may excuse themselves to “release stress” by using .

Odd Physical Conditions

An individual might blackout or have a cough attack even though they don’t have a cold. Some who have not had their “fix” for a while may begin to have mood swings, anger issues, depression, insomnia, appetite issues, seizures, sweats, confusion, or hallucinations. Other physical issues can be vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

Uncommon trouble

There are various issues an individual may experience, but an addict will tend to have many that seem coincidental.

One might be legal issues. Many  times, because they are often in an intoxicated state, they will do things that one who is not intoxicated may never do. Consequently, when they get in trouble with the law, they will claim that the cops are picking on them or they just got a bad judge.

Other times, individuals may begin to fall into coincidental financial trouble. Suddenly, they can no longer pay for their car, rent, etc. Why? Depending on how much they use, drugs can become expensive.

This is a very basic list and there are many other signs of addiction that exist. Some may even be evident between different demographics and cultures.

Many don’t understand what risk an addict put themselves under. We will discuss that next.

If you feel like you or someone you know might be suffering from an addiction, contact us now so we can talk about our addiction counseling in Anaheim Hills. Your first visit will be complimentary.

Similar topics:

What is an addiction? The fine line between addiction and habit What are some signs of addiction? Are there risks to addiction? What could be the causes of addiction? | Can my addiction be diagnosed? | Criteria for Substance Abuse for Dependency | Can addiction be treated?

Gary Aris

-N.C.C.A. Professional Clinical Member -Ordained Minister, Lighthouse of Faith Christian Fellowship -N.C.C.A. Certified Temperament Counselor -N.C.C.A. Licensed Pastoral Counselor


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