Breaking Down Drug Addiction: The Signs, Causes, Treatment Options, and Effects

Okay, now before we dive into this, I feel it is important to remind everyone that drug addiction comes in a wide variety. Just because someone is not on heroin or meth does not mean they are not a drug addict, and just because someone is higher functioning on the addict level does not make them any less of an addict.

Addiction is something that happens when someone becomes dependent on a substance, activity, or ‘thing’ to get something they ‘need.’ It is a chronic issue people face when their brain becomes dependent on the need for ‘reward’ from that specific ‘thing.’ While drug addiction begins with drug use, then abuse, and so forth, it is a tough problem to overcome. Sure there is a bit more to it than that, but that is basically what it all boils down to.

Drug abuse and addiction are terms people tend to use interchangeably but shouldn’t because they are two very different things. Sure, they are similar but they are without a doubt NOT THE SAME THING. You can abuse drugs and not become addicted to them in the same way you can do one drug one time and become addicted. Many things can count as drug abuse, taking more than the directed amount of Tylenol in however many hours is considered drug abuse but guess how many people do it? Tons.

We all respond to drugs in different ways. Some people seem to become addicted to things (drugs in particular) much easier than other people. There are some things that seem to contribute to whether or not you are more likely to become addicted to something, for instance, depression, genetics, and just trying things out too early on in life. There are factors at play in these kinds of circumstances but they should not be to blame completely.

Below you will find a list of signs that you or someone you care about might be facing drug addiction. If you notice these things you need to take note. Addiction can be a hard thing to overcome but it is do-able. Addiction doesn’t usually happen overnight if you know what to look for you can work to stop it before it gets to that point.

Signs of Addiction:

(Remember these are in no specific order.)

Early Warning Signs


Missing work/school

Rationalizing using more often

Minimizing the use in general

Changes in eating habits

Unusual odors due to lack of hygiene

Changes in behavior

Signs Addiction Has Set in

Taking more than needed for an extended period of time

Spending money that you don’t have to spend on drugs

Letting yourself go (no longer caring about yourself)

No longer being in control over the amount or frequency of use

Craving the drug(s) when you don’t have or can’t get them

Don’t get me wrong, there are more signs than this, but these are the more obvious ones I have noticed in those I have known who have been through drug addiction and everything that goes along with it. Below you will find some information on how to get help and what help is offered. Just because it is hard doesn’t mean it is impossible. There is always hope, don’t give up.

Drug Addiction Treatment Options:

There are quite a few options when it comes to ‘treating’ those with some kind of drug addiction. These treatment options include things like medication, medical devices to help with withdrawal symptoms, mental health evaluation to help with any underlying issues, long-term follow-ups, and even behavioral counseling. The goal of treatment is to get the person off of the drug and keep them from getting back on it. While it may sound odd to those who do not use drugs, some drugs have some pretty nasty withdrawal symptoms that can be quite deadly.

According to, one study of treatment facilities found that medications were used in almost 80 percent of detoxifications back in 2014 and in 2017 a device that reduces opioid withdrawal symptoms through electrical pulses was approved for use here in the US by the FDA. Alcohol withdrawal can in some cases cause hallucinations, seizures and other things of the sort. Most withdrawals come with extreme sickness and shakiness. It is not something anyone wants to see someone experiencing but getting through it is crucial.

Millions of people get treatment for drug addiction actually according to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 22.5 million people from the age of 12 and up needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol addiction in 2014. This is a HUGE problem in current times and it is something we all need to be working against.


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