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Warning Signs of Drug and Alcohol Addiction


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Drug and alcohol addiction can negatively affect a person’s life, including distressing symptoms and devastating consequences.

These include poor physical health, breakdown of relationships, reduced work performance, and adverse effects on one’s finances.

Recognising the warning signs and addressing these issues through treatment are important steps toward rehabilitation and recovery.

What is Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse is the act of using legal or illegal substances and alcohol content in ways that doctors do not recommend. These conditions are non-discriminatory, meaning – they can affect all socioeconomic groups and people from all walks of life.

Drug and alcohol tolerance and dependency can develop quickly without the person realising that addiction is taking place.

The pattern of abuse and drug addiction can be difficult to stop. It is essential to seek necessary help once someone exhibits signs of addiction.

Early Warning Signs of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Drug or alcohol intake that gets out of control can have widespread negative effects.

Typically, the addiction often impacts home, school, work, and relationships to the point that going back to normal seem impossible.

To avoid its detrimental effect on daily living, look for these early warning signs of drug and alcohol addiction.

Physical signs

The first clue to look for possible drug and alcohol abuse is a change in physical appearance. The person may have bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, and notice a sudden weight change.

There may also be an appearance of bruises, infections, and other physical signs of substance abuse on the body. The heart and liver may also disrupt their function in long term drug and alcohol abuse.

A person who is having withdrawal (having a dependence drop below a certain level) may experience lists of physical symptoms. These include intense cravings, constipation, and diarrhea.

In worse cases, the person may develop uncharacteristic behaviour such as violence, along with the trembling, seizures, and sweats.

Behavioural Signs of Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction causes negative changes in one’s behaviour and habits as one becomes more dependent. It alters the brain’s ability to focus and form rational thoughts and ideas.

It also impacts the person’s way of socialising and relating with others.

Common behavioural changes may include increased aggression or irritability and a sudden shift in attitude and personality. Notice that the person exhibits signs of depression and becomes lethargic.

There may also be a sudden change in a social group and a shift in habits and priorities. All of these may result in financial problems or involvement in criminal activity.

Emotional Signs of Addiction

Addiction has been linked with developing negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, and anger.

A person struggling with drug abuse or alcoholism is at risk of having these negative emotions. Over time, the feelings will worsen, resulting in substance dependency to feel normal.

Three Cs of Addiction

The three C’s model of addiction is a tool kit used to better understand people with the condition in an attempt to connect with them.

The model serves as a guide in approaching the individual, making it easier to introduce treatment.

The three Cs of addiction are Cause, Cure, and Control.


It is important to remember that you or others did not cause someone to fall into this condition.

Accepting this fact can relieve a lot of guilt and prevent the blame game. The realisation will also help the person take responsibility for their actions.


Addiction is a chronic disease, and while we want to completely cure others who suffer from it, we simply can’t. Think of it like diabetes or heart disease, where the disease can be controlled with treatment, but no one can just “hope” for it to disappear.

Only the person can manage their symptoms, which takes time, patience, and perseverance.

With the help of treatment programs and a strong and ongoing support system, the person has a greater chance of life-long recovery.


Addiction can take control of one’s rational thinking and thus control their actions. Therefore, it is important to remember that no one can control the person who is struggling with this condition.

The decision to quit substance dependency and enter treatment is entirely on their terms. You can provide support and encouragement, but in most cases, only treatment will help get rid of these habits and bring back the person they used to be.

Getting Help

As a loved one, it is difficult to watch drugs and alcohol addiction damage a person we care about.

The good news is there are early warning signs of addiction that help us determine the next steps in helping a loved one find healing and recovery.

Know the steps to administer mental health first aid to someone with a substance use disorder and alcoholism. Using MHFA basics, anyone can provide immediate support until professional intervention is available.

Sign up for an MHFA course today.

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