Warning Signs for Addiction

Drug addiction is an issue that should not be taken lightly, with the hope that it would go away. If drug use and abuse are not tackled firmly, they could result to addiction in which the individual becomes drug dependent. This can ruin the life of the individual – his job, relationships, and finances.

Knowing Drug Use and Abuse

People try drugs for reasons that are varied. Some may use out of curiosity, to have a good time like their friends and maybe from seeing other using. For others, it may be to enhance their performance in sports or cope with issues related to stress, depression and anxiety. There is no specific degree of use that results in addiction. It all depends on the individual. In other words, the amount of drugs used and the frequency of consumption have less to do with addiction. Irrespective of the amount you are taking, if the substance is causing you problems, whether at work, home, school, or in your relationships, you are likely to be struggling with addiction. With these, it is therefore important that we recognize as early as possible the signs and symptoms that come with drug abuse. Below are some of the signs to look out for:

Health and Physical Signs and Symptom of Drug Abuse

Tolerance: the individual requires more drugs in order to feel the same effect. That is, they use more drugs than they use before, usually more than the normal dose without showing signs of intoxication.

Withdrawal: individuals may experience withdrawal (anxiety, touchiness, trembling, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite) as the effect of drugs wear off. Using drugs to regain control of themselves is an indication that the individuals have drug disorder. The withdrawal symptoms in other cases could be more severe and life threatening. In instances like this, individuals suffer hallucination, seizures, confusion, and fever and so on.

Loss of Control with using drugs, often much longer than required or intended even after telling themselves they wouldn’t do it again.

Desire to change but unable to: even with an obstinate wish to stop their compulsive drug use, they are unable to. Neglecting other activities: they tend to spend less and less time on activities they used to love (such as being with their families, friends and so on). They spend more and more time on activities that promote drug use. Exerting more time, energy and focus on drugs: they spend a lot of time using and thinking about using drugs, as well as recovering from the effect. This replaces their previous social life or community development activities. If an activity is not promoting drug use, they avoid going there. Continuous use in spite of the negative consequences: they don’t or can’t stop using drugs even when they see its destructive effects on their lives, their jobs and relationships. Other physical and health warning signs and symptoms of drug abuse include:

Change in the appetite or sleep pattern of the individual
The eyes are red. In addition, the pupils could be unusually smaller or bigger
Recurrent bleeding from the nose
Deterioration of the physical appearance of the individual
Body injuries the individual is always evasive to provide explanation
Different smells on the body, breath, and clothing of the individual
The speech of the individual may be slurred
Unexplained lateness or absence to work or school


Behavioural signs of drug abuse

Decline in productivity at work or school; usually as a result of loss of interest Complaint from colleague (co-workers, classmate, supervisors, and teachers) Unusual increase in the demand for money for reasons either unexplained or reasons considered odd. Individuals could even take to borrowing money or stealing money or other items that they could exchange for money Change in personality – individuals might become withdrawn hyperactive, overexcited, and boisterous, in addition to exhibiting other behavioural traits deemed suspicious. Change in hobbies, places of interest and relationships Repeatedly being involved in arguments, fights and other activities considered illegal, thus destroying a lot of relationships.

Psychological warning signs of drug abuse

Loss of sense of morality or shame Sudden mood swings, touchiness, angry outbursts and laughing at nothing in particular Unusual agitation Sudden lack of motivation Loss of concentration or inability to concentrate or focus Acting erratically and compulsively

DSM-V Substance Use Disorder

According to the APA’s draft revision of the DSM-V as published in NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), for an individual to be diagnosed with mild substance-use disorder, he/she must have met 2 or more of the 11 items outlined below within a 12 months periods.

i. Recurrent substance use leading to inability to fulfil obligations required at home, work or school
ii. Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically dangerous such as when driving a car or operating a machine
iii. Continuous substance use in spite of social and interpersonal problems it causes or worsens
iv. Tolerance define either by a need for markedly increased amount of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance
v. Withdrawal as manifested either in the characteristic withdrawal condition or same substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal
vi. Substance is taken n larger amount or over the duration intended
vii. Unsuccessful effort and desire to stop substance use
viii. Large amount of time is spent on the substance – how to get it, use it and recover from it
ix. Substance use is continued in spite of the havoc it wreck on the individual physically and psychologically
x. Strong desire to continue to use a specific substance
xi. Important social, occupational or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of the substance use

The individual is deemed to have a moderate substance use disorder if he/she meets 4-5 of the item outlined, and severe if it is between 6 and above. Individuals manifesting these signs and symptoms need professional help. Call us now. It is never too early or late to regain control.