Signs and Symptoms

Addiction is a complex illness. In fact, the American Society of Addiction Medicine fills five pages with its full definition of the disease.

What’s most important to understand is that drug and alcohol addiction is a disease of the body, mind and spirit.  And like other diseases, the signs and symptoms will vary, depending on the person and the severity and stage of the illness.

While addiction is far more than a behavioral disorder, we focus below on the behavioral symptoms because that’s generally what families and others experience. 

These common symptoms are based on the official medical diagnosis of addiction, as well the experience of long-term addiction survivors.

Behavioral Symptoms
  • Excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol, at higher frequencies and/or quantities than the person intended.
  • Persistent desire for and unsuccessful attempts at behavioral control.
  • Excessive time lost to substance use or recovery from use.
  • Significant negative impact on social and job functioning (for example, relationship problems or neglecting responsibilities at home, school or work).
  • Continued use despite continuing physical or psychological problems that may have been caused or made worse by substance use.
  • An apparent lack of ability and/or readiness to take consistent, ameliorative action despite recognizing problems.
  • Lies/deceptions regarding use and other areas of life.
  • Broken promises regarding use and other areas of life.
  • Legal issues and related problems.
  • Dangerous and/or damaging behaviors.
  • Poor choices.
  • Impulsivity/compulsivity.
  • Poor judgment.
What Next

If these behaviors are familiar, spend some more time with the field’s official definition of addiction, which outlines a longer series of signs and symptoms.

It’s important to understand that these are just some of the common behavioral symptoms of a disease.  This disease also manifests itself in many biological, psychological, social and spiritual ways. 

Remember, this is about getting good people well – not about getting bad people good. Contact us for help.