Recognizing the Common Signs of Addiction

Addiction can take many forms, from substance abuse to behavioral compulsions. Recognizing when casual or recreational use has progressed into addiction is an important first step toward recovery. While the specific signs vary by substance or behavior, some common indicators can help identify when use has become unhealthy or compulsive.

Increased Tolerance

As addiction develops, it often takes more of the substance or behavior to get the same effect. People who are addicted build up a tolerance, requiring larger amounts or doses to avoid withdrawal or feel high. Tolerance is one of the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders. It signals that the brain has adapted to the presence of the drug and needs more to get the desired result. A major increase in tolerance, needing much more of a substance to get the same high, points toward addiction. Being aware of this sign is vital for getting help, whether through a men’s drug rehab program or other treatment approach.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When addictive substances or behaviors are stopped, withdrawal symptoms often emerge. The onset and severity of these symptoms depend on the substance or addiction. But feelings of nausea, anxiety, irritability, shaking, sweating, and more can all be signs of withdrawal and addiction. To avoid these unpleasant symptoms, people keep engaging in the addictive behavior. Withdrawal that leads to using more of the substance to feel better indicates a vicious cycle of addiction.

Neglect of Other Activities

Over time, addiction tends to crowd out interest in and engagement with activities unrelated to the addiction. Hobbies, socializing, exercise, family time, work, and other pursuits and responsibilities take a back seat to using the addictive substance or engaging in the addictive behavior. This narrowing of focus is an important sign of addiction. A one-track mind centered on the addiction at the expense of other aspects of life points to compulsive, unhealthy use.

Secrecy and Solitary Use

As addiction becomes pronounced, people often go to great lengths to conceal or lie about their substance use or behaviors. There may be covert buying or stealing to support the addiction. Use escalates from social to solitary. Compulsive behaviors like gambling or gaming happen in isolation. Efforts to hide the addiction, use or engage in it alone, and the shame attached to it are clear red flags.

Continued Use Despite Consequences

One of the clearest signs of addiction is continued compulsive use despite increasing personal, social, occupational, financial, legal, and other consequences. Damaged relationships, job loss, debt, crashes while driving impaired, and even health problems fail to deter use. People who are addicted brush these consequences aside or minimize them and keep using. This indicates that the addiction has taken over, and the need for the substance or behavior overrides even severe fallout.

Noticing the common indicators listed above in yourself or a loved one is an important step toward acknowledging addiction. This can motivate the critical next step of getting help through treatment programs. Recognizing the signs allows intervention to prevent addiction from taking an even greater toll.

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Ichiho Fujiwara Written by: