The first step to diagnosing addiction in someone is to understand and recognize the signs associated with it. For you to help your family members, friends, relatives, or someone who you think might be a victim of addiction, it is crucial to develop an understanding of how addiction changes an individual’s behavioral, physical, and mental aspects. Let’s look into all of them:

Behavioral Changes Caused By Addiction

Drugs and alcohol change the way a healthy brain functions. It suppresses the brain’s capacity to think rationally and make decisions. The reason why, addicts are often found to reflect odd behaviors including loss of memory, difficulty in answering questions, etc. Some more behavioral signs related to addiction are:

  • Obsession

Drugs change the priorities of life and make the person obsessive to a level that everything else seems less important to him. Other obligations such as work, school, or even family are put aside.

  • Ignoring The Harm

An addict is not alone in addiction. The condition equally causes mental and physical distress to the family of the individual. However, despite being well aware of the harmful effects, the addict continues substance abuse.

  • Lose Control

Many researchers and doctors state that drugs and alcohol if abused can cause severe damage to the usual working of the brain. This includes loss of memory, low concentration, poor performance at work, and bad decision making. Even if the addict wants to quit substance abuse, he/she cannot do so. Drugs cause loss of control.

  • Denial

The moment you confront an addict about their frequent use of drugs and alcohol, they will deny it. More so, addicts tend to hide substance abuse from everyone around them. This happens mainly because they avoid having to explain themselves when confronted. So they choose to do drugs secretly. 

While the addicts play smart to hide everything from the people who could get them help, it can turn out to be disastrous for them. Drugs can make things out of control and you won’t even realize that. It is then that no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to control the urge. Also, family members, friends, colleagues, etc are the ones who know these people and their usual behavior. Anything unusual should be acted upon quickly before things take an ugly turn.

Physical Signs of Addiction

Physical signs are next in line to see if a person you know is struggling with addiction. These signs can occur as a result of side effects or drug overdose. It is difficult to predict the cause of these physical signs, but more serious effects demand immediate medical attention. Even withdrawal can cause alarming physical signs because the body is trying to cope up with the absence of drugs. This is natural but still something that should not be viewed lightly. Physical signs of addiction are:

  • Sudden Weight Loss

If an addict has been on drugs for long, he/she will start to lose weight abnormally. If anyone you know is losing weight all of a sudden, it’s not like they are on a strict diet, it might be the case of addiction.

  • Unusually Sized Pupils And Bloodshot Eyes

To notice someone’s pupils are extremely hard if the suspect is a friend or a colleague. However, if you do manage to observe the pupils of these people, it could be either enlarged or very small. Also, if you notice their eyes to be red as blood, all the time, it is time to confront them and seek medical attention immediately.

  • Body Odors and Poor Physical Coordination

Overdosing drugs can cause the body to throw an unusual body odor. Sure, it can also mean that the person hasn’t taken a bath for a week, but if the smell persists for long you must direct your attention there. Having poor physical coordination is a more sure shot to know if someone is doing drugs. Something as basic as difficulty in holding a pencil and riding a bike unusually can tell you a lot about the person.

  • Nausea and Difficulty in Breathing

Some drugs also target lungs which causes a person to get tired even after a few minutes of walk or run. If this physical abnormality is occurring more frequently, you need to pay more attention. Also, drugs cause nausea and vomiting, which becomes consistent with time. Do notice that as well.

  • Problem in Speaking

As said earlier, long term use of drugs affects the brain and causes it to function inappropriately. This may reflect in the way an addict speaks or do basic things. A slurred speech, loss of memory, and constant irritation mean they are struggling with addiction. 

Psychological Signs of Addiction

These are by far, the most noticeable signs you could find in an addict. However, it is difficult for the addict to realize these changes amid their addiction. Some of the most common signs are:

  • Anxiousness

An addict is always anxious. If you notice their physical signs of having bad physical coordination, it is because of anxiety. Also, making an addict stay away from drugs even for a day can cause their anxiety levels to shoot up making it certain that they are trapped in addiction.

  • Emotional Withdrawing From People

Addicts are known to corner themselves and live in a world of their own. If you observe such behavior in anyone around you, who has, all of a sudden, distanced themselves from everyone, it could be the case of addiction.

  • Frequent Anger Issues

Anyone could be angry, then what’s so special about an addict? They are frequently angry over petty things. A sudden shift of moods can also be linked to addiction. However, do note that these are all visible sometimes in healthy people as well.


These signs are only a few that can be observed in an addict. To be sure about the addictive behavior of someone you know, it is better to ask them upfront and see if what they say is suspicious enough to raise your concerns. If yes, then you must make them understand that addiction is curable and that all it takes is for them to take that first brave step. Family members and friends have got the best chance of finding help. But remember, bashing and making them say it won’t help either of you. It would push the addict into a shell from which they are never getting out, at least not in front of you. The key here is to gain their trust and let them accept it.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.