How to Spot the Early Warning Signs of Addiction

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How to Spot the Early Warning Signs of Addiction

Addiction is a progressive disease –the longer it is left untreated, there is an increased likelihood for seriously negative outcomes.

While it may be uncomfortable to think about, being aware of the early warning signs of addiction can be potentially life-saving. This is especially true for individuals who are at higher risk for substance use disorder (SUD) such as those who have a family history of SUD or are struggling with other mental health issues.

Recognizing the signs of addiction is the first step in getting help for yourself or a loved one.

Related: What to Do When You Recognize the Signs of Addiction


What is addiction?

Addiction is defined as a chronic disease that affects key brain functions often marked by drug cravings and disruptions in a person’s emotional and social life. People battling SUD often neglect other areas of their life as a result of their addiction.

Early Warning Signs of Addiction

The early warning signs of addiction can be divided into three categories – psychological, behavioral, and physical. The symptoms can drastically affect a person’s quality of living and include:

  1. Psychological
    1. Mood swings
    2. Increased anxiety or paranoia
    3. Inability to stop using a substance
    4. Obsession with a substance
    5. Taking larger doses of a substance
  2. Behavioral
    1. Reduced social interaction
    2. Risking social connections
    3. Ignoring responsibilities at school, home, or work
    4. Dropping hobbies
    5. Making sacrifices for a substance
    6. Turning to secrecy and solitude
    7. Holding stashes of a substance
    8. Experiencing financial difficulties
    9. Legal trouble related to substance use
    10. Engaging in risky behaviors
  3. Physical
    1. Withdrawal symptoms
    2. Appetite changes
    3. Changes in appearance, such as a runny nose or bloodshot eyes
    4. Changes in sleep patterns
    5. Slurred speech, tremors, or unusual lack of coordination
    6. Lack of interest in personal hygiene and/or grooming habits

Related: Getting a Loved One Help for Addiction

The physical warning signs are among the most well-known, physically evident calling cards of a substance of choice. While warning signs seem easily divided into these categories, the reality of identifying them is less clear. Many of them can be overlapping or seem tied to other issues. Some may even seem easily explained away.

Becoming familiar with the common warning signs is the first step in supporting someone battling an addiction and crucial to recovery.

What To Do if You Suspect A Loved One is Battling Addiction

It isn’t always easy to decide to reach out and help someone battling addiction – or to get help for yourself. If you recognize any of the early warning signs of addiction in yourself of a loved one, contact Wellbridge today to learn more about what advanced, evidence-based treatment is available.

Learn more about supporting someone battling addiction without enabling them here.