What are the main symptoms of addiction?

Written by: Top Doctors®
Edited by: Top Doctors®

It is estimated that around 2 million people in the UK are struggling with some kind of an addiction or another, from alcohol and drug abuse, to shopping or checking their mobile phones. There are all kinds of addictions, but they all generally boil down to the same kind of psychological or physical dependence on something that can take over a person’s life. If left untreated, some addictions can destroy families and friendships. Derived from the Latin, addiction loosely translates to “enslaved by”. 

The fundamental difference between habits and addictions is that a habit is a choice, whereas an addiction is not, however sometimes the line is fine, and a bad habit can easily develop into a life-consuming addiction. We take a look at some of the tell-tale signs that somebody is in need of help.


  1. Cravings – A tell-tale symptom of addiction is when somebody starts getting cravings for a specific substance or activity. Quite often, in order to satisfy these cravings, a person may pass on other commitments such as social arrangements or work. This is a sign that the addiction is getting out of control.


  1. Withdrawal – Mostly associated with substance or alcohol abuse, withdrawal symptoms can include sweating, shaking or shivering, headaches, and even diarrhoea. If you see somebody “going cold turkey” when they are unable to appease their addiction, it could be a sign they need professional help.


  1. Money problems – Whether a person is addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, smoking, or gambling, having financial troubles is often a sign that an addiction is getting out of hand. In many cases, especially with highly-addictive substances such as heroin, a person may spend way beyond their means in order satisfy their addiction.


  1. Obsession – As an addiction begins to dominate a person’s life, they will find themselves becoming more and more obsessed with whatever it is they use to perhaps fill a void in their lives. A drug addict or alcoholic will constantly concern themselves about when they can get their next hit. A shopaholic may find themselves with shopping on the brain, unable to get the idea out of their head until they can next indulge in their expensive addiction.


  1. Denial – People with addictions often do not want to admit they have a problem. When confronted about their addiction, they may argue that they are fine, even though deep down they know this is not the case. It can be a sensitive subject that many addicts are unwilling to broach. In some cases people are just unaware of their addiction. When dealing with an addict, it is important to remember that self-denial is a powerful tool at their disposal.


  1. Ignoring the negative consequences – When somebody continues with their negative, or self-destructive behaviour, ignoring the damaging effect it may be having on their lives, it is high time they seek professional help.


Beating addiction can be an arduous journey, and if somebody is trying to kick the habit they may need all the support they can get from friends, family, and medical specialists. If you or anybody you know is showing any signs of addiction, there are many programmes, groups, and professionals who can help


By Topdoctors

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