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Drug Addiction Symptoms

Substance use disorder, which is also commonly referred to as addiction is a condition that tends to affect the victim's body and brain, as well as their behavior. Eventually, it creates a situation in which they are completely unable to control their use of prescription medications, illegal drugs, and legal substances - including but not limited to marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine. In case you have such an addiction, therefore, you might continue abusing the substance of choice in spite of the harm and severe consequences it causes.

In most cases, addiction tends to start with the experimental use of recreational, intoxicating, and mind altering substances - particularly in a social situation. For most people, such experimentation often leads to more frequent use. For others - especially where the drug of choice is an opioid - addition might start when they are exposed to prescription medications or when they receive such drugs from relatives, friends, and neighbors who have prescriptions for these medications.

That said, the risk of drug addiction - as well as the speed at which it evolves - will largely depend on the substance of choice. Some drugs, therefore, come with a higher risk and might cause addiction to develop faster than others. A good example is opioids.

With the passage of time, you might find that you need to take larger doses more frequently to achieve the desired effects that you are looking for. Additionally, you might need the substance to feel good, motivated, happy, and pleasurable.

When such drug use persists and increases, you might also find that it is becoming harder for you to stay without the substance. At this point, when you try to stop abusing it, you may experience intense cravings for it and feel physically sick or ill - meaning that you will be undergoing withdrawal.

Once this happens, you are likely going to need the help and support of friends, family, doctors, support groups, and organized treatment and rehabilitation programs to successfully overcome your addiction and start living a lifestyle of sobriety and abstinence free of all intoxicating substances.

To speed up this process, however, it is imperative that you understand drug addiction symptoms - particularly because they are a sign that your abuse has turned problematic and the time has come for you to seek support and treatment.

Understanding Drug Addiction Symptoms

In most cases, drug addiction symptoms and behaviors tend to include the following:

  • Cutting back on all recreational and social activities due to your persistent drug abuse
  • Engaging in certain activities that you normally would not be involved with just to ensure you get your substance of choice, such as lying and stealing
  • Engaging in risky activities such as driving and operating heavy machinery when you are under the influence of an intoxicating and mind altering substance
  • Ensuring that you always have a constant supply of the substance - either at home, at the office, at school, or in your car
  • Experiencing intense and/or severe withdrawal symptoms any time you try stopping your substance abuse
  • Experiencing intense urges and cravings for the substance, which might block out all other thoughts
  • Failing to meet your work/school/family responsibilities and obligations
  • Failing whenever you try to stop your drug abuse
  • Feeling that you need to use your substance of choice on a regular basis, such as every day or several times daily
  • Finding that you are taking larger and larger amounts of your preferred drug longer than you had intended to
  • Having to take more of the preferred substances on a frequent basis to achieve the pleasurable effects that you are looking for
  • Keeping on abusing the drug in spite of the problems and issues it has started causing in your life as well as the psychological and physical harm it causes
  • Spending more money on your habit even in those situations when you are unable to afford it
  • Spending most of your time getting, using, and/or recovering from using drugs

Identifying Drug Addiction

At times, it might be difficult for you to distinguish normal angst, moodiness, and behavior among loved ones from the classic drug addiction symptoms. In these situations, you might want to look for the following potential indicators that a loved one could be using intoxicating substances:

  • Changes in behavior: Such as exaggerated efforts to ensure that others do not enter their rooms, being secretive about the places they go with their friends, as well as drastic changes in their personal relationships and behavior
  • Money problems: Where they may make sudden and more frequent requests for money even without giving reasonable explanations, discovering that some money is missing and/or has been stolen, or learning that items are disappearing from your home - which could indicate that they are selling them to support their substance abuse and addiction
  • Neglected appearance: Which may encompass a lack of interest in looks, grooming, and clothing
  • Physical health issues: Including red eyes, weight gain or loss, and a general lack of motivation and energy
  • Problems at work or school: Such as when they miss work or school on a frequent basis, when they are suddenly interested in work and school activities, as well as drops in work performance and grades


In the same way, most drug addiction symptoms also encompass signs of substance abuse and intoxication. These symptoms tend to vary depending on the substance of abuse. Consider the following:

1. Bath Salts, Spice, and K2

There are two primary groups of synthetic substances - including synthetic or substituted cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids - that are illegal in many states in the US. This is because they come with unpredictable and dangerous effects.

Spice or K2 is a synthetic cannabinoid meaning it is not a natural or harmless substance. It is similar in its effects to marijuana. Some of the signs of recent use and intoxication to it include:

  • A sense of feeling high or euphoria
  • Altered sense of taste, auditory, and visual perception
  • Confusion
  • Elevated mood
  • Extreme agitation or anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased blood pressure or heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Risk of heart attack
  • Vomiting

On the other hand, substituted cathinones are also referred to as bath salts. They are similar to most amphetamines, including cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy). They may also result in dangerous effects. Some of the symptoms of intoxication from and recent use of bath salts include:

  • Delirium
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased agitation and energy
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased sociability
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Problems thinking clearly
  • Violent and psychotic behavior

2. Barbiturates, Hypnotics, and Benzodiazepines

These include prescription drugs that act to depress the CNS (central nervous system). People misuse them while looking to switch off, forget stressful feelings and thoughts, and experience relaxation.

Barbiturates include Seconal (secobarbital) and phenobarbital. Benzodiazepines include a variety of sedatives like Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Klonopin (clonazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), and Valium (diazepam). On the other hand, hypnotics usually encompass prescription sleeping medications like Sonata (zaleplon) and zolpidem (such as Intermezzo and Ambien).

Some of the symptoms of intoxication to these substances include:

  • Accidents and falls
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Intense changes in mood
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Irritability
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Memory problems
  • Problems concentrating
  • Problems thinking clearly
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slurred speech

3. Cannabis

Cannabis includes hashish, marijuana, and any other substance that contains the drug. Most people abuse this drug through ingestion, inhalation, and smoking. In most cases, it is a gateway drug in the sense that it may precede another intoxicating and mind altering substance or may be used concurrently with it - such as illegal drugs and alcohol.

Some of the signs and symptoms that someone is intoxicated on it include:

  • A heightened sense of taste, auditory, and visual perception
  • An intense sense of euphoria, or when they are feeling high
  • Anxiety
  • Cannabis odor on their clothes
  • Decreased coordination
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Difficulty remembering or concentrating
  • Dry mouth
  • Exaggerated craving for food at very unusual times
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Red eyes
  • Reduced number of interests and friends
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Yellow fingertips

4. Club Drugs

These refer to the substances that are commonly abused at parties, concerts, festivals, and clubs. They include MDMA (molly or ecstasy), ketamine, Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), and GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid).

Although these drugs may not necessarily belong to the same class of addictive and intoxicating substances, they share similar dangers, effects, and symptoms of abuse and addiction - including but not limited to:

  • Altered or heightened sense of taste, sound, and sight
  • Behavior changes
  • Chills
  • Decreased or increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hallucinations
  • Involuntary shaking (or tremors)
  • Memory problems or complete loss of memory
  • Muscle cramping
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Paranoia
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor judgment
  • Problems moving
  • Reduced consciousness
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Sweating
  • Teeth clenching

5. Cocaine, Stimulants, and Meth

Most stimulant drugs include methamphetamine (meth), amphetamines, amphetamine-dextroamphetamines (such as Adderall and Adderall XR), methylphenidate (like Concerta and Ritalin), and cocaine. People abuse them to boost their energy, improve performance at school or work, control appetite or lose weight, and feel euphoric and high.

Symptoms of their abuse and addiction include:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior changes
  • Changes in body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Depression when the drugs start wearing off
  • Dilated pupils
  • Feeling excess confidence
  • Feeling of exhilaration
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired judgment
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased energy
  • Increased restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Rambling or rapid speech
  • Tooth decay, gum disease, and mouth sores for those who smoke drugs (known as meth mouth)
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Damage to the nose's mucous membrane (for those who snort these drugs)

6. Hallucinogens

When you use hallucinogens and become addicted to them - including PCP (phencyclidine) and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) you might display different drug addiction symptoms.

For LSD addiction, you might show the following symptoms:

  • Flashbacks
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Permanent mental changes affecting your perception
  • Rapid changes in emotions
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Reduced perception of truth and reality
  • Tremors

On the other hand, PCP addiction is symptomized by:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Feeling that you are separated from your surroundings and body
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired judgment
  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Intolerance to any loud noises
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Lack of the sensation of pain
  • Possible violent behavior
  • Problems speaking
  • Problems with memory and thinking
  • Problems with movement and coordination
  • Sometimes coma and seizures

7. Inhalants

Some of the commonly abused inhalants include household aerosol products, cleaning fluids, gasoline, felt tip marker fluid, correction fluid, paint thinners, and glue. Signs of their addiction include:

  • Appearing intoxicated, with behavior that include poor coordination, slurred speech, and slow movements
  • Belligerence
  • Brief euphoria
  • Brief intoxication
  • Combativeness
  • Decreased inhibition
  • Dizziness
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Lingering odor of the inhalant material
  • Nausea
  • Possessing inhalant substance without any reasonable explanation
  • Rashes around the mouth and nose
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

8. Opioid Painkillers

These drugs are made synthetically or produced from the opium found occurring naturally in the poppy plant. They include oxycodone, methadone, codeine, morphine, and heroin.

Signs and symptoms of their abuse, dependence, and addiction include:

  • Reduced pain perceptions
  • Agitation
  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems with memory and attention
  • Constricted pupils
  • Inattention or general lack of awareness to any surrounding things or people
  • Problems with coordination
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Nose sores and runny nose (for those who snort the drugs)
  • Needle marks (for intravenous drug users)


In case you display any of the drug addiction symptoms listed above, it is imperative that you seek treatment and get the help you need. In fact, the earlier you undergo detox, treatment, and rehabilitation at an accredited facility, the greater your opportunities and chances for long term recovery and sobriety. Get started today by talking to mental health professionals, addiction specialists, and other experts to ensure that you get assisted before it is too late and the substance you abuse end up causing permanent changes in your physical and psychological health and well-being.

Find Resources

If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.

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