How to Recognize Drug Addiction
How to Recognize Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is sometimes difficult for friends and family members to recognize, particularly during the early stages. If you wonder whether a loved one is transitioning from social to addictive use, understanding the signs and symptoms of addiction will help you develop an appropriate course of action.

Addiction has both physical and psychological components. The drug of choice, duration of use, and family history influences the degree each of these come into play. For instance, cocaine creates a physical addiction, even for those not genetically predisposed to it.

Common Signs of Addiction

Although there are specifics related to each drug, there are common symptoms for addiction. Among them are the failure to meet financial and personal obligations. Addicts will often begin to withdraw from former associates, spending time instead with people who are caught in their own addictive habits.

The cravings for drugs can cause addicts to behave poorly, including stealing and lashing out at others. Poor decision-making skills and risky behavior often go hand-in-hand with addiction.

Here are some specific signs you can look for with each of these substances:

Synthetic Cannabinoids and Substituted Cathinones

Although marijuana is legal in some states, there are still substitutes on the market that can be dangerously addictive. The synthetic cannabinoids are chemical compounds commonly known as “Spice” or “K2” on the streets. It can be smoked or used to make tea. Look for:

  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety, agitation or paranoia
  • Hallucinations and/or confusion

“Bath salts” is the familiar name of substituted cathinones¬†and has similar symptoms as listed above. Additionally, users might exhibit:

  • Psychotic breaks, including violent outbursts
  • Greater energy, including sexually
  • Raised blood pressure and heart rate

Stimulants (Cocaine, Meth, Speed)

In addition to prescription Ritalin, this class of drugs includes meth, cocaine and crack. Signs of speed addiction include:

  • Aggression and paranoia
  • Overly alert, confident or energetic
  • Poor judgment
  • Weight loss

Club Drugs

This class of drugs is labeled as such because they are common at clubs and similar parties. These include Rohypnol, MDMA, Ecstasy, ketamine and GHB. While differences between them exist, they share these symptoms:

  • Cramps and tremors
  • Hallucinations, paranoia and poor judgment
  • Reduced coordination and consciousness

Often called “date rape drugs,” GHB and Rohypnol induce confusion and memory loss. The user might have difficulty with muscle control and staying alert.

Narcotic Painkillers

Opiates are commonly prescribed for people after injury or surgery. Oxycodone, codeine and other opiates are highly addictive, as is heroin. Whether to prescription or street drugs, opiate addiction is a serious matter and can be identified by:

  • Poor attention skills and/or coordination
  • Constricted pupils
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness and slurred speech
  • Clammy skin

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms in relation to your drug use, get help as soon as you can. Likewise, if you see these signs in a loved one, stage an intervention. Doing so could be the difference between life and death.

In the case of overdose, or suspected overdose, go to the emergency room immediately. If the person has trouble breathing, is seizing, unable to maintain consciousness or exhibits signs of a heart attack, you don’t have time to wait.

Although addiction can be a frightening and uncomfortable topic, you cannot afford to ignore it. With treatment, you and your loved ones can get on the right track and overcome the debilitating effects of addiction. You have everything to gain from seeking help!

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