Signs, Symptoms, & Effects of Addiction

Addiction, referred to clinically as a substance use disorder, is a complex disease that changes the way a person’s brain responds to substances such as alcohol, opioids, and prescription drugs.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this condition is chronic and progressive, making it difficult for people to resist the urge to misuse substances despite experiencing negative consequences to their health, relationships, and quality of life.

But with professional care, a person can address the root causes of their struggles with addiction and begin healing from the effects of substance abuse.

Signs of Addiction

The signs of addiction can vary, but certain behaviors may indicate that a person has developed a substance use disorder. These are some of the common warning signs that someone is struggling with addiction:

  • Stops caring about their personal appearance or hygiene
  • Loses interest in things that were important parts of their life
  • Struggles to perform at work or stops showing up to work
  • Frequently asks to borrow money, or money often comes up missing
  • Becomes secretive about what they are doing or who they are spending time with
  • Does risky things they normally would not do
  • Spends most of their time getting or using substances
  • Uses the substance despite experiencing negative effects or consequences

Symptoms of Addiction

When a person develops a substance use disorder, they often suffer from addiction symptoms that can interfere with their daily functioning. These are common symptoms of addiction:

  • Struggles to control intense urges to use the substance
  • Needs the substance to experience happiness or cope with pain
  • Uses more of the substance over a longer time frame than intended
  • Needs to use more of the substance to get the same effect as before
  • Suffers physical and emotional distress when unable to use the substance
  • Unable to stop using the substance after multiple failed attempts

Common Causes & Risk Factors for Addiction

While there is no single cause of addiction, researchers have identified several addiction risk factors that can increase the likelihood that you may develop a substance use disorder. Common causes of and risk factors for addiction include:

  • A family history of substance abuse or addiction
  • Personal beliefs about using substances
  • Friends who use substances and encourage their use
  • Unstable home life during childhood
  • Using substances at an early age
  • Presence of a co-occurring mental health disorder

Addiction Statistics

The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), collected the following statistics on addiction:

  • In 2018, about 20.3 million people age 12 and older met the criteria for a substance use disorder in the previous year.
  • Approximately 9.2 million adults age 18 and older struggled with a mental health condition and a co-occurring substance use disorder during the same time frame.
  • An estimated 21.2 million people age 12 and older needed professional care for a substance use disorder during the same period.

Potential Effects of Addiction

Without appropriate care, the effects of addiction can be devastating. These are some of the most common addiction effects a person may experience:

  • Difficulty performing at work or keeping a job
  • Tense or ruined relationships with friends and family
  • Increased risk of serious injury while under the influence
  • Criminal behavior, frequent arrests, or incarceration
  • Financial hardship, bankruptcy, or homelessness
  • Increased risk for certain diseases and ongoing medical problems
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of isolation
  • Suicidal ideation

You can reduce your risk for future negative effects of addiction by seeking professional help. This will allow you to heal from any harm you have already experienced and keep you from suffering any further addiction effects.

Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

Trying to stop using a substance on your own can cause addiction withdrawal symptoms that can be too painful and distressing to manage without professional support. These may include:

  • Stomach pain or nausea
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Muscle aches or cramps
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Excessive sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Pounding heart

By receiving professional care at a facility that offers detoxification services, you can get through the withdrawal process as safely and comfortably as possible.

What Happens If I Relapse?

Reaching out for professional assistance is an important first step in achieving recovery from addiction. By working with professionals, you can learn healthier ways to cope with daily life stressors and techniques to prevent addiction relapse.

But if you do experience relapse from addiction, it does not mean that you are weak or a failure. You will discover that recovery is a journey, and the professionals you work with will help you learn how to manage any temporary setbacks.

Addiction relapse is not the end of your recovery. With the right help, you can find the best solution to get you back on the path to a substance-free life.

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Disorders

Addiction commonly co-occurs with certain mental health disorders. Some people who struggle with addiction develop a mental health concern because of the effects of the substance they are using. Others self-medicate the symptoms of a mental health condition, which can lead to the development of a substance use disorder.

Regardless of the reason you are struggling with multiple overlapping conditions, it is crucial to address each disorder. When you seek care at Glenwood Behavioral Health Hospital, you will complete a comprehensive assessment so that we can determine your specific recovery needs.

Our goal is to provide you with comprehensive care that helps you develop a solid foundation for long-term recovery.

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Glenwood Behavioral Health Hospital.

We accept most major insurances.

The team we have is phenomenal, with an extensive background from a myriad of mental health and substance use backgrounds.

– Glenwood team member