Symptoms, Signs, & Effects of Drug Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a chronic condition that is characterized by compulsive substance use despite the harmful consequences. The compulsive nature of addiction may be the result of brain changes that impair a person’s ability to control behavior and make healthy decisions.

At Maple Heights Behavioral Health, we offer clinically excellent care for people who are struggling with addictions to a variety of substances. Through our compassionate services, people can access the support and strategies they need to pursue healthier lives in recovery.

Signs & Symptoms of Addictions

Addiction signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe and may look different depending on the person and the substance they are abusing.  

Common signs and symptoms of addictions include: 

  • Neglecting regular activities 
  • Failing to meet responsibilities at work, home, or school 
  • Using substances in larger amounts than intended 
  • Being unable to cut down substance use 
  • Withdrawing from family and friends 
  • Exposing oneself to physical danger when using the drug 
  • Taking extreme or illegal action to get the drug 
  • Changes in weight or energy levels 
  • Poor self-care or grooming 
  • Financial problems 
  • Problems with thinking, memory, or judgment  
  • Drug cravings that make it difficult to focus on other tasks 

If you realize you are struggling with addiction symptoms, know that help is available and that reaching out for support as soon as possible can make a big difference to your recovery journey.  

Common Causes of & Risk Factors for Addictions

In general, there is no single reason why someone develops an addiction. Addictions may result from genetic, environmental, and social factors. Addiction causes and risk factors may include: 

  • Cultural attitudes that encourage substance use 
  • Peer influence 
  • High stress levels  
  • Lack of positive coping strategies 
  • Having family members who have also struggled with addictions 
  • Being impulsive or wanting novel experiences 
  • Having another behavioral health disorder 
  • Exposure to instability, trauma, or violence 

Addiction Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the following substance use statistics for the United States based on a 2019 survey: 

  • An estimated 13% of people age 12 and older engaged in illicit drug use in the past month.  
  • Past-month illicit drug use was highest among young adults ages 18-25, at 24.9%.  
  • Among respondents age 12 and older, 15.5% of males and 10.7% of females engaged in illicit drug use in the past month. 
  • An estimated 1.9% of people age 12 and older used a psychotherapeutic drug for nonmedical purposes in the past month. 

Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides statistics on addiction from a 2020 U.S. survey: 

  • Among people age 12 and older, an estimated 40.3 million people, or 14.5%, had a substance use disorder in the past year. 
  • Past-year substance use disorders were highest among young adults ages 18-25, at 8.2 million people, or 24.4%. 


Effects of Addictions

A wide range of social, emotional, and physical complications can occur when someone is struggling with an addiction. The effects of an addiction can include: 

  • Overdose 
  • Higher risk for infectious disease 
  • Long-term health problems 
  • Accidents and injuries 
  • Legal problems such as custody conflicts, arrests, and DUI offenses 
  • Poor work or school performance 
  • Job loss 
  • Worsening mental health 
  • Higher risk for suicide 

By seeking professional support, you can begin to rebuild your life and achieve a healthier and happier future.  

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawing from alcohol or drugs can be immensely difficult. When you use substances repeatedly, your body can adjust to their presence and begin to rely on the drug to function. When you stop substance use, withdrawal symptoms can quickly appear, which may make it difficult to remain in recovery. 

Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the substance someone has been using, but symptoms may include: 

  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Tremors 
  • Anxiety 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Feeling agitated 
  • Feeling depressed 
  • Suicidal thoughts 

Maple Heights Behavioral Health offers detox services so that patients can receive care from qualified professionals as they navigate withdrawal. This allows patients to begin their recovery journeys in a safe setting, where they can receive support to remain committed to their recovery goals. 

What Happens if Addiction Symptoms Return?

An addiction can develop for a variety of reasons. But what’s important to realize is that struggling with an addiction is not a personal or moral failing. Addictions are treatable illnesses, and with the right kind of support, along with consistent dedication to the recovery process, it’s possible to live a fuller and healthier life. 

Because addiction is a chronic disease, you may experience the return of addiction symptoms at some point. These setbacks can be challenging, but don’t give up. Seeking support from your care team and using the tools and strategies you have learned can help you get back on track and reduce the likelihood you will suffer from worse symptoms later.  

By seeking professional help, you can reevaluate your care plan and recovery toolkit and make adjustments that can help you move through your current crisis successfully. 

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Disorders

Many people who suffer from addictions also struggle with co-occurring behavioral health disorders. This can cause them to experience complex combinations of symptoms that are best treated together rather than separately. 

Maple Heights Behavioral Health is pleased to support people who have mental health concerns, addictions, or a dual diagnosis of both. We base care decisions on a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s individual needs, understanding that it’s important to treat both acute symptoms and underlying disorders.  

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Maple Heights Behavioral Health.