Drug addiction is a complex disease, and knowing when to seek treatment can be challenging. This disease is characterized by uncontrollably seeking and using a substance despite any harmful consequences that may come about due to such use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Addiction can be effectively treated, but it’s not a simple process. An individual can’t simply abstain from using for a few days and kick their habit. Often, it’s a lifetime journey toward recovery, and treatment can teach individuals the tools they need to stay on track. Taking the first step toward recovery via a comprehensive treatment program is essential. There are many signs that could suggest a person may need professional help, and these signs can prompt individuals and their families to reach out for help.

How to Know When to Go to Treatment

Physical Signs

A common sign that a person is under the influence of some kind of substance is redness and/or glassiness of the eyes. Their pupils could be drastically different in size than they normally are. These are common symptoms that law enforcement officials look for in assessing if someone is driving under the influence. Cold, sweaty palms and shaking hands are also red flags when it comes to drug abuse, as are a running nose and a persistent cough.

An individual’s speech may become impaired, and they could begin to slur their words. Some substances can cause an opposite effect of sorts, a kind of hyperactivity and excessive talking.

Nausea, vomiting, and excessive sweating are other common indicators that a person could be under the influence of a drug, and they can also be symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal occurs when the body does not receive a substance it is accustomed to receiving in a timely manner. Withdrawal only arises in the case of physical dependence, which can be a sign of addiction; however, individuals who take certain prescription medications according to a doctor’s instructions can become dependent on the medications.

Physical and Behavioral Signs

Changes in sleep patterns are common among those abusing drugs. Usually, an individual will have a difficult time sleeping and perhaps even suffer from insomnia. This can read as laziness to others. Eating habits may also be affected, usually in the form of loss of appetite and associated weight loss. A general decline in physical health can be a sign that an individual is struggling with substance abuse and/or addiction.

An increased tolerance for a substance is another physical indication that an individual may be abusing that substance. A person who is abusing drugs will need to take more and more of the drug over time to experience the same effects, which can lead to dangerously high doses that can result in overdose.

Behavioral Signs

Signs of Addiction

NIDA classifies addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease, and drugs can actually change the structure of the brain. This can cause a multitude of symptoms that serve as warning signs.

Physical dependence can be a glaring sign that an individual is addicted to a substance. The body will crave the substance, and these urges can become quite apparent to someone observing an individual who is experiencing these cravings. As mentioned, physical dependence is not the same thing as addiction, according to NIDA, but they very often go hand in hand.

A person who is physically dependent on a drug has difficultly functioning on a basic level if the substance is removed abruptly from their system, and withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Nervous behavior
  • Intestinal issues
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive sweating

Treatment for Substance Abuse and Addiction

Treatment is a viable option for those struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, allowing individuals to leave substance abuse in their past and embrace a healthier, more balanced future. It’s common for an individual struggling with addiction to think there is no way out of their situation, but that is simply not the case. Asking for help is the first and often most difficult step, according to NIDA. It takes determination and courage to admit that one need’s help, and it’s something that many people don’t think they can bring themselves to do. Oftentimes, family members and friends prompt an individual to reach out for the help they need.