identifying signs and symptoms of addiction

Drug addiction can affect and change people in many different ways.

Some are very easy to spot and highly noticeable, and some other ways that are slightly harder to see and even harder to understand.

Ultimately, during the early stages of their habit, the extent of the effects on an addict will be harder to notice as the physical, mental and emotional effects of long term use have not set in deep enough to be spotted at first glance.

However, if you are concerned that somebody you love, or even you, are struggling with addiction then there are specific things to look for, courtesy of the experts over at Clarity, a rehab in Thailand, to distinguish between occasional use and outright addiction, and when you should act on them.

Borrowing money to fund their habit

Many people use drugs recreationally or on rare occasions, and this while obviously not recommended is not inherently a serious problem provided it doesn’t develop. However, one of the first major signs of drug addiction is financial disorganization and disruption.

This comes from a person having to rearrange their finances in order to accommodate their ever-growing addiction and subsequently many addicts begin to rely heavily on friends and family to fund their habit and their various living expenses.

Everybody gets in financial difficulty sometimes and borrowing from a trusted friend or family member for a legitimate reason is perfectly reasonable.

If this turns into asking these people for money more than once a month for wildly varied and suspicious reasons then this, combined with some other signs, could be due to some kind of addiction.

Social Isolation

Everybody needs their alone time away from everybody else once in a while, it’s important to be able to allocate quality time to enjoy your own personal space. However, there are some kinds of social reclusion that could potentially be a sign of a greater issue with addiction that may be present.

Often time’s new addicts will try to avoid social situations or spending long periods of time with non addicts. Usually due to a fear of judgment and embarrassment about their problem and prefer to spend it with people who are also using the drug due to a sense of “understanding” each other’s struggles.

You should look for signs that somebody is isolating themselves due to addiction by looking for a sudden change in their attendance at social gatherings or regular activates that were once enjoyed by the person.

In addition, look for any signs that they may have started associating with a new group of friends who they seem unusually attached to.

Erratic Behaviour

Recreational drugs tend to affect a person psychologically as well as physical and mentally. Overusing some kinds of substances can lead to very serious mental health problems in the long run and can cause a complete personality shift in serious cases.

Drugs like cocaine, for example, tend to make a person more paranoid, aggressive and bad-tempered after serious addiction starts, this is due to the body attempting to cope with the absence of the drug by changing your body chemistry.

Unfortunately for this tip, there are no surefire ways to tell whether a person’s behaviour is drug-related without physically testing them.

If you notice somebody’s personality changing very rapidly, alongside erratic and out of character behaviour which comes and goes frequently, this could point towards a struggle with addiction.

However, everybody goes through bad patches in their lives so it is best not to instantly assume they are using drugs unless there are other things about their behaviour that you find suspicious.

Losing Job/Dropping Out of School

Sometimes, you can’t help but lose your job, either your employer goes bankrupt or can no longer afford to keep you on.

Whatever the reason it is all part and parcel of being an adult and making your way in the world of work.

However, if your friend suddenly loses interest in a job they were previously very happy with, or suddenly drop out of a college course they were working at completing then this can be a serious indicator that they are allowing their addiction to dictate their day to day lives.

This can be a very serious state of affairs when a person begins to jeopardize their addiction over their future career prospects.

If an employer suspects that you are abusing drugs and fire you for it, then that could forever go against you if you try to find work in that same industry again.

What’s more, is if that person happens to be supporting a family then they now not only have to struggle to finance their addiction but also support them until they find new work.

Hygiene and appearance

Anybody reading this has probably at some point in the past fallen guilty to letting themselves go slightly. Maybe one day you didn’t feel like showering, or perhaps you wanted to see what you would look like with slightly longer, grown out hair.

This is fine, however, when somebody starts to neglect not just their appearance, but also their hygiene, this can be an indicator of a serious problem.

Now obviously there can be many different reasons why a person neglects their appearance, such as mental health or even certain kinds of medications.

However, if you begin to suspect that they are neglecting to take care of their hygiene due to an addiction, it may be worthwhile trying to talk to them about their issues and letting them know (in a constructive and friendly way of course) that people are noticing how they are changing and neglecting their hygiene. This may open them up for more talk on the subject.

The first step to helping somebody tackle their drug dependency issues is by supporting them through their struggles.

At the end of the day, only they can will themselves out of drug addiction, this is the one part of the process that nobody can help with.


Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091


About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.