What are the early signs of a drug addiction?

You or a loved one may be struggling with drug addiction without even realizing it if you’re using drugs on a regular basis. Whether you use drugs recreationally or to treat chronic pain, your substance use patterns can quickly lead to an addiction as your brain builds up a tolerance to the drug. As this happens, you’ll need more of the drug to help you achieve the same state of relief or euphoria. However, if you can recognize the early signs of addiction, you or your loved one can seek treatment sooner. When you go through drug rehab at an earlier stage in your addiction, the treatment may be more effective, and the risks of relapse are considerably lower.

Unfortunately, few people recognize they have a substance abuse problem until they have been using for a considerable length of time. By learning to recognize early warning signs, you can save yourself or a loved one from the devastation that years of addiction could otherwise bring into your life. In general, the earliest signs that an addiction is forming involve behavioral changes in the individual. The first indications of a problem revolve around work or school performance with the addict failing to meet their obligations in those settings. They may be frequently late or miss days altogether. They will also provide unsatisfactory work or exhibit a decrease in the quality of work they perform as a result of the cycle of withdrawal and substance abuse worsening.

In conjunction with poor performance, someone who is developing an addiction will begin engaging in high risk or illegal behavior. Even someone addicted to prescription painkillers may have to resort to illicit behaviors when they can no longer get legitimate prescriptions refilled. This often involves going to high crime areas where they can buy illegal forms of the drug. Additionally, people who are just becoming addicted will drive while high or engage in unprotected sexual activities. Drug use is like alcoholism in that it impairs judgment, so addicts will do things that they normally wouldn’t do either as a means of obtaining drugs or as a result of getting high.

Early Physical Signs of Drug Addiction

There are many more early warning signs of drug addiction, and some of them involve the deterioration of the individual’s health. These are signs you can recognize in a loved one or in yourself if you’re worried that you’re developing an addiction. While there are adverse changes to health that may not be outwardly visible, these obvious signs indicate a need to seek treatment.

Often, visible signs of addiction are merely symptoms of internal changes that are caused by drug abuse. One example might be the nosebleeds that indicate a problem with the heart. Since heart failure is often linked to substance abuse, it’s important to recognize these signs as soon as possible.

Even if your reluctant to admit there’s a problem with addiction, the following signs should prompt you or your loved one to seek a medical evaluation.

  • Eyes with pinpoint pupils, enlarged pupils, or with a bloodshot appearance
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Unexplained weight changes

As the addiction worsens, the signs will become more pronounced or more frequent, so it will be easier to tell that there is a problem. In addition to the early signs already mentioned, you should be aware of how the individual cares for themselves and interacts with others. Even in the early stages of addiction, the addict will be concerned about getting their prescription refilled or getting their next supply from a drug dealer. Those thoughts become the primary focus, so the addict may stop bathing, wearing deodorant, or washing their hair. It’s also common for them to wear the same clothes several days in a row, or they may stop doing laundry altogether.

These signs may be difficult to spot because drug addicts also tend to withdraw from social situations. As the addiction gets stronger, they may be concerned about family members or friends criticizing their drug use. For that reason, they stop engaging in social events. Instead, they arrange to be alone to ensure they can get their next dose of the drug without any interruptions. If you or your loved one needs help with a developing drug addiction, call our counselors at 833-680-0165 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can answer any questions you have about the recovery process and help you start treatment as soon as possible. Together, we can help you treat an addiction problem before it becomes more severe.