Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving interactions in the brain, genetics, the environment and an individual's life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.
Addiction involves many substances from caffeine or tobacco to heroin or prescription medications. The first stage is dependence, during which the search for a drug dominates an individuals life. The individual eventually develops tolerance, which forces the person to consume larger and larger doses of the drug to get the same effect.
Symptoms can only be experienced by the person with the addiction, whereas signs can be observed by other people. You can never know what someone else is experiencing unless they tell you, so if you are concerned that someone else may have an addiction, look for signs as well as for symptoms.
- Extreme mood changes - happy, sad, excited, anxious, etc.
- Sleeping a lot more or less than usual, or at different times of day or night
- Changes in energy - unexpectedly or extremely tied or energetic
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Unexpected and persistent coughs or sniffles
- Seeming unwell at certain times, and better at other times
- Pupils of the eyes seeming smaller or larger than usual
- Financially unpredictable, perhaps having large amounts of cash at times but no money at all at other times
- Changes in social groups, new and unusual friends, odd cell-phone conversations
- Repeated unexplained outings, often with a sense of urgency
- Drug paraphernalia such as unusual pipes, cigarette papers, small weighing scales, bent spoons, etc.
- "Stashes" of drugs, often in small plastic, paper or foil packages