Signs & Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Signs & Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Authored by Defining Wellness    Reviewed by Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis    Last Updated: December 9th, 2021

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis Medical Reviewer
Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

The very first step to getting treatment for a drug addiction is just realizing there is a problem. However, the symptoms of drug addiction can be very subtle. People who have a drug addiction may be in denial about the problem, and those around them might not even for a while. If you suspect you or a loved one has a drug addiction, here are some signs you need to be aware of.

How to Tell If a Person Is On Drugs

Physical signs can vary quite a bit depending on what types of drug a person uses. In general, those using drugs are often in poor health. They may be overweight or underweight. People who smoke drugs often have sores and burns around their mouth, while those who inject drugs may have small holes or infected spots in their skin. Since they have a physical dependency on the drug, they feel ill when they quit using it suddenly. Here are some of the signs of drug addiction to look out for with the most commonly abused types of drugs.


Stimulants are a category of drugs that includes methamphetamines, cocaine, and prescription drugs like Adderall. When a person is using a stimulant, they may appear abnormally energetic. They will talk very fast and have a tendency to ramble. Typically, stimulants cause dilated pupils, rapid breathing rates, and excitement. Aggression, paranoia, and hostility may also occur. Long term abuse of stimulants often leads to weight loss because these drugs are also appetite suppressants.

coain withdrawal detox options


This is a broad group of drugs that includes everything from heroin to Vicodin. Opioids are known for causing an intense euphoria. People who use them will seem lethargic and happy. Opioids often have a sedative effect, so people may fall asleep, have slow reaction times, and forget what happens during opioid use. Opioids frequently cause digestive issues, so users tend to experience constipation, stomach cramps, and other problems.


When a person is high on marijuana, they will seem extremely relaxed and mellow. Marijuana slows reaction times and causes coordination issues. It can also cause euphoria or intense bouts of laughing. In some cases, marijuana usage can lead to a person feeling paranoid and suspicious. Some people may experience increased appetite or thirst.

Benzodiazepines and Barbiturates

These are a class of central nervous system depressants, and they often come in the form of prescription drugs like Valium or Xanax. When a person is on these drugs, they may lack inhibitions and exhibit poor judgment. They often seem dizzy or struggle with balance. Frequently, depressants make people seem tired, fatigued, and confused.

Hallucinogens and Club Drugs

These are a category of drugs mostly used for psychedelic experiences or parties. Due to their high tolerance levels and intense effects, they tend to have a lower risk of addiction. However, it is still possible to be addicted to things like psilocybin mushrooms, ecstasy, or GHB, so you should be aware of these signs. Typically, a person using these drugs will have noticeably impaired function. They may be intensely happy, impulsive, or unaware of their surroundings. These drugs often lead to increased body temperature, dizziness, poor coordination, and tremors.

Behavioral Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is more than just a physical problem. People who have a substance use disorder have a behavioral health condition that negatively impacts the way they act. There are several key behavioral signs of drug addiction that indicate a person has an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol. The mental and behavioral symptoms of drug addiction include:

  • The majority of a person’s time is spent thinking about, obtaining, using, or recovering from the drug.
  • A person has lost interest in any hobbies, friends, or ambitions besides drug use.
  • Despite wanting to cut back, a person keeps using the drug.
  • The person frequently experiences intense emotions and mood swings.
  • The person finds themselves using more drugs for longer than they originally meant to.
  • Responsibilities like making meals, going to school, or caring for children are neglected to do drugs instead.
  • While on drugs, the person takes part in risky behavior like driving or unprotected sex.
  • The person cannot quit using even when their drug use causes problems like arrests or breakups.
  • The person may behave irrationally or do unethical things in their quest for drugs.
relapse prevention

One symptom of addiction is hiding drug use from others, so it can be hard for friends and family to notice a person has a problem. Your loved one may have an addiction if they suddenly quit expressing interest in spending time with you or others. They may have unexplained money problems, and they may start stealing or doing other desperate things for money. Often, they disappear at strange times, suddenly change their sleeping schedule, and become very secretive.

When Should You Get Help?

If you notice any of these signs of drug addiction, it is important to seek help at a Mississippi drug rehab center as soon as you can. Drug addictions are easier to treat in their early stages, so you don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom before getting care. As soon as you recognize that you are using mind-altering substances in a way that hurts your mental, physical, emotional, or social health, it is time to get treatment.

At Defining Wellness, we are devoted to helping people improve their wellbeing. We are happy to consult with potential clients and help you decide what sort of treatment is right for you. Our Mississippi drug rehab center offers a variety of drug addiction treatments, including therapy for mental illness, art-assisted therapy, and group counseling. We provide many types of rehab programs, including medical detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient rehab. To learn more about our Mississippi drug rehab, get in touch with us now.

Family-owned and operated, Defining Wellness Centers is a true labor of love. My wife Robin and I, along with our children, are deeply passionate about wellness, mental health and addiction treatment.

We are a family, dedicated to helping other families. We created Defining Wellness with two central goals in mind: to share our love, understanding and compassion with clients and to utilize the best health and wellness modalities available today to treat addiction.

Our programs are built on a foundation of proven, evidence-based therapeutic techniques combined with cutting-edge bio-technological treatments, fitness and experiential learning. Our end goal is to provide the support and tools necessary for people become their best selves through emotional wellness and balance.