Most people who begin using drugs start by just experimenting with them, often in social situations. From that first foray into drugs, these individuals may then try the drugs again and again. As use increases and more of the drug is needed in order to experience a high, this leads to addiction. The speed at which a user becomes addicted varies widely by the type of drug, but symptoms of requiring that drug will begin. These common signs include:
- Loss of Control – This can be seen in a variety of different settings, but people who are losing control will often use drugs more frequently or for longer periods of time than even they want to be doing it. They may tell themselves and tell others that they will not use the drugs, but then they will use them again. This loss of control of their actions can be dangerous to themselves as well to as others.
- Neglecting Other Activities – When people choose to ignore the activities that made them happy in the past, such as hanging out with family and friends or pursuing special hobbies, this can be a red flag that some other activity has taken over their lives. Performing poorly at work or at school can be another tell-tale sign that a person is distracted by something other than his or her usual activities, such as drugs.
- Taking More Risks – These risks are generally related to getting the drugs. Such risks can be in terms of getting the money to pay for the drugs, such as stealing, or in using the drugs secretively, such as hiding from teachers or bosses. Users risks may not be visible at first. They will often become more daring as their need for the drug grows and as they become more desperate for the high.
- Struggling with Personal Relationships – Those who are using drugs and are struggling with addiction will often become short-tempered with those closest to them or around them the most often. They will lash out at their significant others, supervisors or teachers, as these people will most likely see the signs of addiction first and will ask questions. Because many drug users will attempt to mask their need for the drugs and their addictions, they tend to deny vehemently or accuse others of meddling in their business rather than accept the concern of their friends and family.
- Keeping More Secrets – Drug addicts do not want to admit how much of the drugs they are using, so when they are questioned about their habits, their initial response is to lie. They will hide their drugs and their drug paraphernalia, and they will often make excuses and disappear from friends and family while they are using in order to hide their habits.
- Changing Personal Appearance – For addicts, the drugs become the most important aspect of their lives. Their personal hygiene and overall physical appearance can slowly deteriorate, and they will often stop showering and start wearing dirty or torn clothing. If this is out of character for the person, drugs could be the root of the problem.
- Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms in Between Uses – While the sober times used to be a return to normalcy, addicts often find that the sober instances are those when they are least like themselves. They may exhibit signs of withdrawal when they are not high, such as shaking or trembling, sweating profusely and showing irritability or depression. Other addicts start having anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite and even vomiting.
- Changing Mood – Like withdrawal signs, addicts may go through sudden mood changes either when they are sober or when they are using. This could mean that they are paranoid for an hour, then giddy for a couple of hours and finally moody or angry. These varying moods can also signal that there is something causing these alterations.
- Spending Money Excessively – Drugs are expensive. Addicts spend a lot to keep their habit going, so they may ask to borrow money or complain about never being able to pay bills despite an adequate income. There are many places that people spend money, but when a lot of money is not going to something obvious, drugs may be the reason.
Of course, there can be times that some of these behaviors can be explained by other life situations. However, seeing someone dealing with two or more of these symptoms can be a good indication that there is a problem.