addiction recovery

The Tipping Point: 5 Warning Signs of Addiction

For some addictions, the warning signs are obvious. You can’t seem to go too long between doses or hits without breaking out in a sweat, shaking, or exhibiting strong symptoms of withdrawal. Other addictions are subtler and, often, more difficult to see.

Whether you’re the person living with the addiction or an individual who loves someone who may be struggling with addiction, these five warning signs can help you identify it so you can get the professional help you need.

1. Daily Use – Frequent Need to Use Drug of Choice or Alcohol

If you need to indulge daily (or more frequently) to avoid the jittery feelings of withdrawal, there is a good chance you might be addicted. You may even experience intense cravings for the drug within a few hours of your last use.

Over time, you’ll need to take larger amounts with greater frequency not only to achieve the same good feelings from the drug but also to prevent the negative side effects related to withdrawals.

The same goes for alcohol where you find you’re needing to drink more to feel the same effects you used to feel with less.

2. Drug Use Interferes With Relationships

When you need to take drugs supersedes your desire to be with your friends, family, or romantic partner, it’s a bright neon sign that you might be dealing with an addiction.

Some people withdraw from friends and family fearing they won’t understand. Others withdraw for fear of being judged. Some simply prefer to be with people who feed their addictions, rather than surrounding themselves with people who might present roadblocks.

Still other times, it’s the taking of the drug itself that causes people to lose all sense of time and purpose. They forget about family gatherings, romantic plans, and other commitments with friends and family, creating roadblocks of their own.

3. Work or Career Problems

Yet another bright neon sign pointing to potential addiction is career and work difficulties that arise from frequent drug abuse. Whether it involves showing up late to work, working with a hangover after many nights of drinking, skipping shifts, or making errors due to drug-related impairments while at work, your career could suffer.

Many people lose their jobs before it registers in their minds that they have a very real problem in the form of addiction they need to address with professional treatment.

4. Mental Signs

You may recognize a variety of mental signs of addiction in yourself or others you love who are living with addiction. Drugs and alcohol addiction create chemical changes in the brain. These changes are often recognizable but overlooked, by people who want to see the best in others. Addiction is an illness, just like any other medical condition.
There are highly effective treatments that can help restore the whole person and eliminate mental symptoms of addiction, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Spacing out (at home, at work, even in the car while driving)
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Dramatic changes in priorities (for instance, someone who is highly ambitious and driven suddenly stops caring about school or work)
  • Changes in personality
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Participates in criminal activities (often to fund the addiction)
  • Blackouts and memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Engaging in risky or riskier than normal behavior

Any or all of these signs may indicate addiction, especially if these changes seem to come on suddenly. It is worth reaching out for help if you recognize these signs in yourself or in someone you love and fear addiction might be the cause.

5. Physical Signs of Addiction

On the outside looking in, physical signs of addiction are often the easiest to see. When you look in the mirror every day, the changes and symptoms may be so gradual you hardly recognize them.

For people who love you, who may go a couple of days or even a week between seeing you, some of the physical signs can be obvious and terrifying. They include things like:

  • Notable and sudden weight loss or gain
  • Red eyes
  • Neglected appearance or a noticeable lack of interest in grooming, clothing, or cleanliness
  • Dental issues
  • Jittery or shaking all the time
  • Withdrawing from social situations
  • Unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Abnormally dilated or constricted pupils

By themselves, these symptoms could apply to a myriad of conditions. However, in conjunction with some of the mental, work, and relationship issues mentioned above, coupled with using drugs or alcohol frequently (especially daily), it’s time to start looking for solutions for your addiction.

Fortunately, your story doesn’t have to end with addiction. There are steps you can take now to change your story and create your own happy ending — one that doesn’t include addiction. The key is to get help now so you can end the hold addiction has on you.

If you need additional information on drug or alcohol addiction or finding an addiction treatment facility, visit

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