Drug Addiction Signs, Symptoms and Effects


Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of addiction is an important step toward getting help for yourself or your loved one. Haverhill Pavilion Behavioral Health Hospital in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is a source of accurate information, reliable guidance, and comprehensive solutions for adults and older adults who have been struggling with addiction.

Understanding Addiction

Learn about addiction

Those who struggle with a mental health disorder are at greater risk for developing an addiction. Abusing any type of substance, such as drugs or alcohol, will often lead to an addiction. The more you use a substance, the quicker you will build a tolerance to it, which means that it will take more of that substance to achieve the desired effect. As a tolerance is built, you will find that it is hard to control how much you use that substance. Soon, you become addicted to its effects. When you’re addicted to a substance, stopping use of that substance may bring painful and difficult withdrawal symptoms.

If you fail to address an addiction, the addiction will only get worse. Treating the addiction is the best way to manage addictive symptoms, and hopefully cease use of the substance altogether. Addiction is life-altering, as it affects you physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Addiction impacts not only you, but also those around you. But when you seek professional help for your addiction, you begin the journey to healing and wholeness.

Signs & Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of addiction

There are various signs and symptoms that can help you determine if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction. Because addiction is an all-encompassing disease, it affects not only your behavior, but also your physical and mental well-being. The following list of signs and symptoms of addiction is not conclusive, but it can aid you in determining your next step in seeking treatment:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Spending your money on the preferred substance
  • Continually using the substance despite its harmful effects on you or those you love
  • Using the substance even in dangerous circumstances, such as driving, working, or while watching your kids
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Failure to do basic self-care tasks (bathing, grooming, etc.)
  • Neglecting personal responsibilities in favor of using the substance (e.g., using grocery money to buy the substance)
  • Needing the substance to deal with stressful circumstances or painful emotions
  • Losing interest in hobbies you once loved
  • Trying to stop using the substance but being unable to do so

Physical symptoms:

  • Excessive talkativeness
  • Twitches or tremors
  • Itchiness
  • Elevated or slowed heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Constipation
  • Bloodshot or watery eyes
  • Impaired coordination
  • Increase or decrease in energy levels
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Sexual dysfunction

Mental symptoms:

  • Constantly thinking about the substance and/or using the substance
  • Mood swings
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to focus
  • Dramatic changes in confidence
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Short-Term Effects

Possible short-term effects of addiction

Failure to treat an addiction will lead to various short- and long-term effects. The effects of any addiction are vast and complex. Some effects are inconvenient, while others are fatal. The short-term effects of addiction can cause considerable harm and should not be viewed as temporary or inconsequential. Anyone who experiences any of the following effects of addiction should seek professional treatment:

  • Strained personal relationships
  • Family discord
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of hobbies and extracurricular activities
  • Physical injury due to reckless decisions while under the influence of a substance
  • Bad grades
  • Poor performance at work
  • Onset of co-occurring mental illness
  • Overdose
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts

Long-Term Effects

Potential long-term effects of addiction

If your addiction is further left untreated, you may be susceptible to more chronic, or long-term, effects. The longer you delay treatment, the worse these long-term effects can get. Some of the long-term effects of addiction can be fatal. The following are among the long-term effects of addiction:

  • Organ damage
  • Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and other blood-borne diseases
  • Cancer
  • Ruined relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Onset or worsening of co-occurring mental illness
  • Academic failure
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Financial problems
  • Homelessness
  • Arrest or incarceration
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Overdose
  • Death

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who have addiction

If you are addicted to a substance, you may be at risk for developing a mental health disorder. The following is a list of common co-occurring disorders among people who have addiction:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder

When you seek professional care at Haverhill Pavilion Behavioral Health Hospital, you can receive comprehensive treatment for an array of addictions as well as any co-occurring disorders. If you believe that you may be suffering from an addiction, contact Haverhill Pavilion Behavioral Health Hospital for more information.

Effects of Addiction Withdrawal & Overdose

Withdrawing from addictive substances, and the risk of overdose

Effects of withdrawal: When you have an addiction, your body adapts to that substance’s presence. When you cease using that substance, your body may undergo a myriad of distressing symptoms, a process called withdrawal. Below is a list of common withdrawal effects from addictive substances. This list is not extensive, and will vary depending on the substance you are withdrawing from:

  • Strong cravings for the substance
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Cramping
  • Twitches and tremors
  • Muscle pain
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose

Effects of overdose: Anyone who displays any of the following symptoms may be experiencing an overdose:

  • Bluish tint to lips or fingertips
  • Seizure
  • Feeling confused or disoriented
  • Hallucinations
  • Dramatic changes in body temperature
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms of overdose, please call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.


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