What Are the Signs I Have an Addiction?

Olivia Pennelle
Calendar icon Last Updated: 04/1/2022
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If you’re Googling “Am I an addict?” or “Am I an alcoholic?”, then you’re in the right place. It’s common to wonder what common signs of addiction may be. More importantly, it’s common to wonder if you show signs of problematic substance use.

Way too often, people struggling with substance use disorders do not realize the severity of their use.

People in active addiction find it really difficult — if not impossible — to be objective concerning their own behaviors. In active addiction, a person experiencing negative consequences due to substance use may not fault the substance.

Blaming family, work, romantic partners, or other stressful circumstances is easier. But rationalizing is a key indicator of addiction.

That’s partially why less than 10 percent of people with substance use disorder get the help they need. They don’t believe their addiction is bad enough — or using is to blame for their ‘bad luck’.

However, there are major signs that you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction. Many behaviors can signal when someone needs help. Certain signs can also indicate an appropriate level of treatment to seek.

Identifying the Common Signs of Addiction

Although you may feel like you’re going through this alone, addiction is more common than you think. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 19.3 million Americans struggle with a substance use disorder or SUD.

Substance use disorders occur on a spectrum from mild to severe. So the symptoms can vary, depending on the severity. However, there are some hallmarks of addiction that you should be made aware, including:

  • Not being able to stop taking the drug or alcohol even though you want to
  • Losing interest in things you once found enjoyable
  • Needing to use more to have the same effect
  • Experiencing cravings
  • Struggling with job performance or school grades
  • Not taking care of basic hygiene, washing your clothes, or caring about personal appearance
  • Mood swings including irritability and intolerance
  • Social isolation and canceling/not showing up for scheduled events
  • Lacking energy, manic, or swinging between the two
  • Poor sleeping habits or difficulty sleeping
  • Preoccupation with using or drinking
  • Problems in your relationships
  • Engaging in risky behaviors like drunk driving or having unprotected sex

This is not an extensive list, and you don’t need to meet each of these criteria to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder.

Meeting as few as two or three of these symptoms could be a sign of an addiction that requires professional help.

Does Your Loved One Show Signs of Addiction?

The same symptoms above apply to a loved one struggling with addiction. However, it can be trickier to spot addiction with a loved one. They may hide it particularly well.

Some questions to consider include:

  • Does your loved one go missing or not show up to scheduled events?
  • Are they lying about their use or trying to cover it up?
  • Have you found drug paraphernalia or an excess of empty bottles around the house?
  • Have you noticed a loss of interest in things they once enjoyed? Do they seem depressed?
  • Have you confronted them? Have they denied having a problem or evasive when responding?
  • Do they have frequent mood swings for no apparent reason?
  • Have you noticed any major changes in their energy levels? Are they sleeping more or have a lot of energy?
  • Has their appearance changed? Have they stopped showering regularly? Have they rapidly lost weight?
  • Have you noticed any money or possessions missing?
  • Did they once enjoy exercising but stopped caring about their physical health?
  • Have they received a DUI? Or, have you noticed them driving after drinking?
  • Do they seem preoccupied with going to the bar or using?

These are all signs that your loved one may have a problem and may need to seek professional help.

It can be tricky to spot addiction in a loved one. They may hide it particularly well. It’s important to know the common signs of addiction.

When to Seek Help for Addiction

If you meet 2 or more of these criteria, you may need to seek treatment. Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease. It will only continue to get worse without intervention.

Bear in mind that addiction is a mental and behavioral health disorder. It rewires the brain to seek substances and override rational thought. Even if you want to stop, you may not be able to. It isn’t your fault.

Many factors contribute to addiction. It is a complex disorder that often requires professional help.

As soon as you’re able to confirm a number of the signs of addiction, you should seek help. However, loved ones sometimes aren’t ready. You may feel helpless to help them.

If so, ask for the assistance of an interventionist. Working with an interventionist is an effective way of helping your loved one. They may also benefit from individual counseling or family counseling.

Be sure to implement boundaries to keep yourself safe. It’s important to maintain your own health and well-being during a difficult time.

What Are My Addiction Treatment Options?

There is a range of treatment options available for a substance use disorder. This includes:

  • Detox programs
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Intensive outpatient programs
  • Partial hospitalization programs
  • Residential treatment options

Seek the advice of an addiction specialist to determine what level of care is appropriate for you or a loved one.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a substance use disorder, help is available. Call 800-926-9037 (Info iconWho Answers?) today to speak with a treatment specialist.

Images Courtesy of Canva.

Pen iconAuthor
Olivia Pennelle
Olivia Pennelle, BA, Precision Nutrition Coaching I
Freelance Writer, Podcaster & Activist
Located in Portland, OR, Olivia Pennelle (Liv) is a freelance writer, journalist, and content strategist. She is the founder of the popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, a site dedicated to providing the ingredients to live a fulfilling life in recovery. Liv also co-founded the podcast Breaking Free: Your Recovery. Your Way Liv is passionate about challenging limiting mentalities and empowering o