Signs and Symptoms

When you or someone you love is using substances—whether drugs or alcohol—it may not be easy to decide if the problem is serious enough to be treated. That’s why it’s vital to know the signs and symptoms of addiction. Recognizing a substance use disorder is the first step to getting help.

Adults who are addicted to substances may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anger and guilt
  • Poor eating habits and/or poor nutrition
  • Avoidance of family and friends
  • Devaluation of personal relationships
  • Failure to keep promises and resolutions
  • Missing excessive time from work and other commitments
  • Work and money problems
  • Lack of ambition
  • Trouble coping with responsibility
  • Negative changes in personal habits such as sleeping, eating and hygiene
  • Passivity or irritability

Teens and young adults who are using substances will often have some or several of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Unexplained, extreme mood swings
  • Fatigue with a noticeable change in sleep patterns
  • Dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes
  • Loss of appetite and/or periods of binge eating
  • Changes in dress or appearance
  • Social withdrawal or changes in friends
  • Losing interest in hobbies and activities
  • Missing excessive time from school or poor grades
  • Stealing from family and friends
  • Lost or missing possessions
  • Unexplained amounts or sources of money (possible indicator that teen is dealing drugs)

If you’ve noticed behavioral changes in a person close to you, be aware that these signs and symptoms may not all occur at the same time, in any certain order, or with great frequency. But the fact that you’ve noticed significant changes is important. It may tell you all you need to know: that you should take action on your concern.

On Your Radar

On Your Radar is Rosecrance’s podcast that features timely, educational insights regarding substance use and mental health issues. It is particularly helpful for professionals or loved ones seeking guidance and information from trusted experts.

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SAMHSA blog—The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers the latest news and trends in behavioral health here.