Drug and Alcohol Addiction-Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

drug and alcohol addictionSubstance addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects millions of Americans every year. In order to effectively address the underlying causes of drug and alcohol addiction, medical and therapeutic interventions are needed. At Get Treatment, we understand that asking for help can be both terrifying and overwhelming. You may have a lot of questions about rehab, what to expect, how long it will take, and where to find the support you need you complete a treatment program.

We focus on treating individuals who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction through a comprehensive and integrated approach to treatment. Our multidisciplinary approach to treatment provides patients with the guidance, support and tools they need to live a life free from addiction.


What are the Common Signs of Drug Addiction?

Drug dependence affects people from all walks of life, and no matter how or why a person began taking drugs, tolerance and dependence can quickly develop as a result of drug abuse. When tolerance becomes a full-fledged addiction, drug use can be almost impossible to stop without the help of professional treatment.

Not only does drug abuse lead to negative physical effects, but it also alters the structure and function of the user’s brain. It’s important to learn the signs of addiction so you can help someone you love get the support and treatment they need. If you or someone you love is in need of addiction treatment, we can help.

Since each drug produces different effects, not every person will display the same physical, psychological or behavioral symptoms, but there are some general signs that can help you determine whether or not someone you love has a problem with drugs.

Signs of Drug Addiction:

  • Experiencing cravings: People who addicted to drugs experience intense cravings for the drug.
  • Developing a physical dependence: Physical dependence to drugs can develop as the individual consistently uses. Once they become dependent, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to function normally when the drug is not in their system.
  • Tolerance: Long-term drug use can lead people to build up a tolerance to the drug. This means they need more of it to achieve the desired effects.
  • Having withdrawal symptoms. Many addicts experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using or take a smaller dose of the drug. The presence of withdrawal symptoms typically signifies that the person has developed a physical dependence on the drug.
  • Drug-seeking behavior: Addicts spend an excessive amount of time looking for, obtaining, and using their drug of choice.
  • Poor judgement: When someone is addicted to drugs, he or she is likely to do anything it takes to get the drug. This can include dangerous and risky behaviors that can lead to problems with the law.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Another sign of possible drug addiction is the neglect of personal responsibilities. Missing work, school and abandoning family obligations aside to use drugs is a hallmark of drug addiction.
  • Financial problems: In cases where the addiction is severe, people may spend all their money, borrow money from loved ones and even spend all their savings just to use.
  • Developing unhealthy relationships: When people start using new substances, they may spend time with others who have similar habits. They may hang out with a new group of people who may encourage unhealthy habits.
  • Isolating themselves from friends/family: Alternatively, they may withdraw and isolate themselves, hiding their drug use from friends and family. Some reasons for this may include perceived stigma or increased depression, anxiety, or paranoia as a result of their drug addiction.

Physical Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction

One of the most notable symptoms of drug dependence is tolerance. When drugs are abused for an extended period of time, the body begins to build a natural resistance to the usual dose, therefore, requiring more and more of the drug to achieve the initial high. Tolerance is very dangerous as it can easily lead to overdose.drug addict bruises

Other physical signs of drug addiction include: 

  • Bloodshot eyes or a glazed-over look
  • Pupils that are constricted or dilated
  • Shocking fluctuations in weight
  • Bruises and/or needle marks
  • Infections caused from using dirty needles
  • Health issues such as organ damage related to drug use

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Drug addicts typically experience a change in behavior and personality as a result of their drug abuse. This abuse causes both physical and chemical changes in the brain, affecting behavior patterns and habits.

The following behavioral changes are possible in a drug addict:

  • Aggressiveness or irritability
  • Changes in personality and/or attitude
  • Mood swings
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Changes in their social circle
  • Change in habits
  • Change in priorities
  • Financial troubles
  • Legal problems

By recognizing these signs of drug addiction, you can help someone you love get the treatment they need.

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What are the Common Signs of Alcoholism?

There are certain signs and symptoms everyone should know when it comes to problem drinking and alcoholism. While not everyone who drinks heavily is addicted to alcohol, this behavior can certainly be an indicator of dependence. Here are some more commons signs of alcohol dependence.

Common Signs of Alcohol Addiction:

  • Drinking more than originally intended despite knowing better and telling themselves it would not happen again
  • Neglecting family, friends, and other priorities to drink
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking or when the amount of alcohol is reduced
  • Experiencing trouble at work or school as a result of drinking
  • Engaging in risky behaviors that put the user and others around them in danger
  • Continuing to drink despite the negative physical, social, emotional and financial consequences
  • Relationship issues with loved ones and other family members
  • Tolerance buildup as a result of continued alcohol abuse

Physical Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

As alcohol dependence continues to worsen, several physical symptoms of long-term alcohol abuse can develop.  These can include: 

  • The appearance of tiny blood vessels, also known as broken capillaries on the face
  • Redness and possible swelling of hands, cheeks and nose
  • Decrease in weight due to heavy drinking and lack of appetite
  • Yellowing skin and eyes, which could indicate a problem with the liver
  • Always smelling of alcohol – breath, skin, etc.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Dry skin and brittle hair and nails
  • Skin sores or infections
  • More age spots and wrinkles

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

alcohol black outAlcoholics oftentimes experience a change in their personality and behavior as a result of their heavy drinking. This leads to physical and chemical changes in the brain, which affects patterns in behavior and a change in their regular habits.

The following behavioral changes are possible in an alcoholic:

  • Temporary blackouts or memory loss
  • Hiding liquor or lying about how much they drink, where they are and who they are with
  • Experiencing blackouts or memory loss
  • Becoming aggressive and/or defensive with family members and friends
  • Becoming irritable, experiencing mood swings and depression
  • Using alcohol as a means to feel better, relax, fall asleep, and cope with emotions
  • Experiencing anxiety, nausea, headaches, etc when drinking is stopped
  • Drinking alone or secretly

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options

Many people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction are often in denial that they have a problem. Many are also reluctant to seek help because they don’t have the necessary support, don’t think they can cover the cost of rehab or are simply scared.

At Get Treatment, we understand the complexities of addiction, and the fear many people experience when trying to find a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. For this and other reasons, we strive to provide quality treatment, as well as understanding and empathetic admissions coordinators who can guide you through the first steps of the admissions and recovery process.

One of the most effective forms of treatment for addiction is an inpatient residential rehabilitation program. This type of setting provides a structured and safe living facility for patients while they undergo medical detox and other therapeutic treatments. Inpatient treatment helps patients focus solely on their recovery without the presence of drugs or alcohol, thus lowering the risk of relapse significantly. Inpatient drug rehab centers offer medical supervision and access to medical professionals, if needed. It provides an atmosphere in which patients can connect to others by sharing their struggles and find the support they need to achieve lasting recovery.

Treatment protocols offer during inpatient rehab include:

  • Medical detox
  • Individual therapy
  • Group and family therapy
  • Relapse prevention training
  • Aftercare support

Others may choose outpatient treatment, which allows patients to go home once they receive their daily treatment session(s). While outpatient rehab is more flexible because it allows patients to manage their home and work responsibilities while still receiving treatment,  it also requires patients to have a strong commitment to recover and good support system at home.

Every patient requires a different type of treatment, depending on their specific needs. For this reason, we customize every treatment program to match the needs of our patients. To learn more about how you can get help for drug and alcohol addiction, contact us today.

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