pensive woman curled up in chair exhibiting signs of drug addiction

Signs of Drug Addiction

The signs of drug addiction are myriad and varied. Different drugs cause different effects in different people and it can be hard for a layman to distinguish between addiction and other conditions. On the other hand, drug addiction does tend to create certain patterns in people who suffer from it. Symptoms like irritability, emotional instability, and unusual agitation or drowsiness can all mark a substance use disorder.

Emotional Signs of Drug Addiction

Emotional instability is common amongst drug-addicted people and can sometimes be one of the clear signs of drug addiction. People use their drug(s) of choice to regulate and moderate their moods and emotions. As a result, when users run out of drugs or use too much of the drug they’re addicted to, their emotions and moods become unpredictable.

Users may react strongly to minor inconveniences and problems. On the other hand, they may fail to react strongly to events that one would expect to cause a strong reaction. In either case, their emotional reactions are inappropriate to the stimuli they’re experiencing.

Physical Signs of Drug Addiction

Drugs of abuse have powerful effects on the energy levels of drug users. For example, methamphetamine and cocaine are powerful stimulants, lifting energy levels and improving a user’s ability to focus. Also, heroin and benzodiazepines calm users down and create a drowsy, sleepy effect.

Users frequently exhibit inappropriate levels of energy. If they abuse stimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine, or prescription attention-focusing drugs, they may seem jittery, agitated, and “sped up.” Conversely, if they abuse depressants like opioids or benzodiazepines, they may seem disinterested, distracted, drowsy, and sleepy.

Heroin users will often “go on a nod,” during which they “nod off” before quickly walking back up. It’s a state that heroin users seek out and one that is obvious to an observer. It is also one of the most identifiable signs of drug addiction.

Social Signs of Drug Addiction

Drug users are often, if not always, completely preoccupied with getting and using drugs. Therefore, if they aren’t actively high they are usually actively seeking drugs. As a result, users frequently neglect other aspects of their lives.

Users will neglect their own physical health and hygiene, visibly getting worse before one’s eyes. Therefore, users’ loved ones witness a painful display as their family member neglects themselves to the point of illness.

Tragically, drug users frequently neglect other people as well. People who rely on drug users for care or support often go without as the user seeks out and uses their drug of choice. Users' children are especially vulnerable. They have no way of protecting themselves from the harmful effects of substance abuse-related neglect.

To an observer, the signs of drug addiction may manifest as:

  • Leaving their children unattended
  • A deteriorating relationship with their spouse
  • Cutting off virtually all contact with their loved one
  • A general loss of interest in other people

Help Is Within Reach

The San Antonio Recovery Center (SARC) is a whole-person drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located in San Antonio, Texas. We focus on delivering multiple treatment options to address our patients’ physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. As a result, our programs include:

If you think you see signs of drug addiction in your loved one, don’t hesitate to call us at 866.957.7885. You have options and we’d love to talk to you about them.

Now is the time to focus on your recovery.


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