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What are the Signs of Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction can negatively impact the lives of you or your loved one, however, drug addiction rehab can empower lifelong changes through recovery. Knowing the signs of drug addiction can help you identify your problem and get help right away. There is hope for recovery from addiction — even for those who have been using substances for years.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a brain disease defined by chronic, uncontrollable cravings and urges for drugs or alcohol. You might continue to use drugs and alcohol despite adverse consequences in your life. When you have an addiction, you might struggle to quit due to withdrawal symptoms that cause a risk of relapse. 

According to MedlinePlus, “not everyone becomes addicted,” and “[w]hether or not someone becomes addicted depends on many factors. They include genetic, environmental, and developmental factors.”

Common risk factors for developing a drug or alcohol addiction include:

  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Physical or sexual abuse during childhood
  • Traumatic experiences throughout life
  • Underlying mental health disorders, like depression or anxiety
  • Experimenting with substances during adolescence
  • Being around friends or family members who abuse substances
  • Members of the LGBTQ+ community are at a greater risk of addiction, as they might use substances to cope with negative social stigmas and discrimination

The Signs of Drug Addiction

The signs of drug addiction can differ based on what type of drug is used. However, some signs are shared across the board, such as:

  • Decreased performance at work or school
  • Poor hygiene or a sloppy appearance
  • Loss of interest in activities 
  • Problems in relationships with family members and friends
  • Secretive behaviors
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Spending more time alone than usual


Stimulants include methamphetamines, cocaine, and prescription drugs like Adderal or Ritalin. These drugs are called “speed” or “uppers” because they increase activity in the brain and central nervous system, resulting in some of the following signs:

  • Staying up late and sometimes not sleeping for days
  • Profuse sweating 
  • Paranoid thoughts  
  • Racing heart rate
  • Rapid speech


Commonly abused depressants include alcohol, barbiturates, and prescription benzodiazepines, like Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. Depressants cause the central nervous system to slow down, resulting in a lower respiratory rate and relaxed inhibitions, among other signs like:

  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting and nausea 
  • Loss of bodily coordination
  • Blackouts and memory loss
  • Bodily injury while under the influence


These drugs act on the opioid receptors in the brain, which control pain and create feelings of pleasure. Opioids include illicit drugs like heroin and prescription drugs like oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl. Signs of opioid abuse include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Extreme euphoria and happiness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing


Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, contains psychoactive ingredients that cause users to feel “high.” Although cannabis is legal for use in many states, this drug is still addictive, especially when used excessively. Cannabis can cause some of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty thinking and problem-solving
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Loss of coordination
  • Lethargy

Why You Need to Get Help for Drug Addiction

Drug addiction can negatively impact several critical areas of your life. If you are using drugs to cope with an underlying mental health disorder, continuing to use substances can worsen your condition. You might develop physical health problems due to the harmful side effects of drugs. In addition, your social wellness can decrease, especially if substance abuse takes priority over your loved ones or you get into legal problems due to risky behaviors committed under the influence.

Treatment options for addiction can address your unique needs to provide you with a comprehensive plan for a successful recovery, including:

  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) help you learn to manage your symptoms and learn valuable life skills when struggling to get your life started. During PHP, you attend a program for several hours a day, usually four to five days per week.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) can be a great option if you are relatively stable and need treatment that fits around your work, school, or family responsibilities. IOPs occur in the evening for about three to five hours, usually three to five days per week.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) combines medication and traditional methods of addiction treatment. MAT is helpful when you struggle with strong cravings in early recovery or severe withdrawal symptoms during detox and early recovery.
  • Family Counseling can supplement any treatment plan and could be a critical aspect of your long-term recovery. Your family can be your strongest support system, and it is crucial to repair these relationships that might be damaged by addictive behaviors.
  • Transitional Living is also known as “sober living” and can help you get back on your feet after long-term residential treatment. You can learn valuable life skills to maintain lifelong sobriety to help you stay sober when you go back to your everyday life.
  • Holistic Therapy offers treatment for the “whole-person” in recovery. Drug addiction impacts your physical and spiritual wellness, and holistic approaches can help you make a full recovery.
  • EMDR Therapy or “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing” is an evidence-based treatment for trauma, one of the most common underlying causes of addiction. You and your therapist will discuss trauma memories and work on changing negative beliefs about yourself, others, and the world caused by traumatic experiences.

Drug Addiction Treatment in Knoxville, TN

Getting help for drug addiction allows you to find long-lasting health and wellness. Tennesse Valley Recovery is here to help you find the best path for your treatment with our comprehensive, patient-centered approaches. Call us today or visit our admissions page for more.