Recognizing Addiction

Drug overdoses in America have more than doubled since 1999. Drug addiction affects roughly 10 percent of Americans and leaves millions of families in distress, trying to help their loved ones get sober. However, before a family member or friend can find help for a loved one they must first be able to recognize a drug addiction.

Most drug addicts often isolate themselves and will do anything and everything they can to hide their use from their families which is why it is vital that an addiction is recognized early on. Signs and symptoms of drug addiction depend heavily on what types of drugs are being abused and how deep one is their addiction.


Opiate abuse accounts for the largest number of drug overdoses every year. This category includes heroin and many pharmaceuticals like Oxycontin, Opana, Deludid, Fentynil, and Percocet. Prescription opiate addicts often partake in “doctor shopping”, where they are visiting multiple doctors to get larger amounts of the drug without getting any one doctor getting suspicious. A large number of opiate addicts in fact start off by abusing painkillers and transition to using heroin because its price is cheaper.

Withdrawal symptoms from these drugs are not life-threatening but they can leave the user feeling very sick. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms.

Some common signs of opiate addiction include:

  • Excessive fatigue or “nodding out”
  • Excessive itching
  • Unnecessary sweating
  • Constricted or pinned-out pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Pale skin
  • Little to no appetite
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Track marks on limbs


Benzodiazepines or “benzos” are a class of drugs that are used to treat a wide variety of anxiety disorders. They include pharmaceuticals like Xanax, Valium and Klonopin which are meant to be helpful but have a high risk of becoming addictive. In 2013, benozos accounted for 30 percent of all prescription drug overdoses. The withdrawals associated with benzo withdrawal can be life-threatening if not treated properly and can result in extreme nausea, vomiting, tremors, severe paranoia, and seizures.

Some common signs of benzodiazepine addiction include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor coordination
  • Amnesia
  • Appearance of dementia
  • Irritability
  • Hostility


Cocaine is a stimulant and therefore, signs of use are usually centered on unusual hyperactivity. It is relatively expensive and its effects are short-lived, so the user must ingest a lot to keep the effects going. Withdrawal symptoms are primarily mental and may include anxiety, drowsiness, depression and irritability.

Some common signs of Cocaine addiction include:

  • Insomnia
  • Jitteriness
  • Paranoia
  • Severe mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Manic-like behaviors
  • Excessive anxiousness
  • Red eyes and dilated pupils
  • Tremors
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Dramatic weight loss


Methamphetamine or “crystal meth” is a stimulant and, like cocaine, is very mentally addictive. While both share very similar symptoms, crystal meth usage enables users to stay awake longer than cocaine and leads to sometimes more erratic behavior and hallucinations.

Some common symptoms of Methamphetamine addiction may include:

  • Severe insomnia
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Erratic behavior
  • “Meth mouth” (rotting teeth)
  • Convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Audio and visual hallucinations
  • Psychosis

Recognition of a drug addiction problem is the first step towards recovery and from there, one can truly be open to seeking proper drug addiction treatment. It is also very important for families and friends to refrain from judgment when approaching their loved one about getting help. It is more effective to make it known that one is coming from a place of love and concern when urging someone else to seek treatment. Many who stay sober go on to join support groups which in turn will exponentially reduce their risk of relapse.

Addiction is a life-long battle and millions have found relief through participating in treatment programs and joining 12-step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Both programs are spiritually-based and allow membership to all who have a desire to stop drinking and/or using drugs. Both hold meeting is all 50 states and worldwide.

Call and speak with a representative today about the amazing drug addiction treatment options offered in California and we can help you find the right. You can reach the California Drug Addiction Helpline for more information at 855-980-1946.