A symptom is something the addict describes, while a sign is something other people, such as Faith By The Sea clinical personnel observe during a face-to-face assessment. For example, sleepiness may be a symptom while dilated pupils may be a sign.

Substance Use Disorder (Severe, Moderate, Mild) - when a person is addicted to a substance that alters his or her mood and state, such drugs and alcohol they are not able to control the use of that substance. They continue taking it, despite the harm and life-damage consequences it may cause. As the addiction progresses, behavioral changes are displayed, and more risks are taken. Addiction can cause powerful cravings. The addict may want to give up (quit), but finds it extremely difficult to do so without help from a drug and alcohol rehab such as Faith By The Sea.

The signs and symptoms of substance dependence vary according to the individual, the substance they are addicted to, their family history (genetics), and personal circumstances.

  • The person takes the substance and cannot stop - in many cases, such as nicotine, alcohol or drug dependence, at least one serious attempt was made to give up, but unsuccessfully.
  • Withdrawal symptoms - when body levels of that substance go below a certain level the patient has physical and mood-related symptoms. There are cravings, bouts of moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, a feeling of being depressed and empty, frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment.
  • There may suddenly be increased appetite. Insomnia is a common symptom of withdrawal. In some cases the individual may have constipation or diarrhea. With some substances, withdrawal can trigger violence, trembling, seizures, hallucinations, and sweats.
  • Addiction continues despite health problem awareness - the individual continues taking the substance regularly, even though they have developed illnesses linked to it. For example, a smoker may continue smoking even after a lung or heart condition develops.
  • Social and/or recreational sacrifices - some activities are given up because of an addiction to something. For example, an alcoholic may turn down an invitation to go camping or spend a day out on a boat if no alcohol is available, a smoker may decide not to meet up with friends in a smoke-free pub or restaurant.
  • Maintaining a good supply - people who are addicted to a substance will always make sure they have a good supply of it, even if they do not have much money. Sacrifices may be made in the house budget to make sure the substance is as plentiful as possible.
  • Taking risks (1) - in some cases the addicted individual make take risks to make sure he/she can obtain his/her substance, such as stealing or trading sex for money/drugs.
  • Taking risks (2) - while under the influence of some substances the addict may engage in risky activities, such as driving fast.
  • Dealing with problems - an addicted person commonly feels they need their drug to deal with their problems.
  • Obsession - an addicted person may spend more and more time and energy focusing on ways of getting hold of their substance, and in some cases how to use it.
  • Secrecy and solitude - in many cases the addict may take their substance alone, and even in secret.
  • Denial - a significant number of people who are addicted to a substance are in denial. They are not aware (or refuse to acknowledge) that they have a problem.
  • Excess consumption - in some addictions, such as alcohol, some drugs and even nicotine, the individual consumes it to excess. The consequence can be blackouts (cannot remember chunks of time) or physical symptoms, such as a sore throat and bad persistent cough (heavy smokers).
  • Dropping hobbies and activities - as the addiction progresses the individual may stop doing things he/she used to enjoy a lot. This may even be the case with smokers who find they cannot physically cope with taking part in their favorite sport.
  • Having stashes - the addicted individual may have small stocks of their substance hidden away in different parts of the house or car; often in unlikely places.
  • Taking an initial large dose - this is common with alcoholism. The individual may gulp drinks down in order to get drunk and then feel good.
  • Having problems with the law - this is more a characteristic of some drug and alcohol addictions (not nicotine, for example). This may be either because the substance impairs judgment and the individual takes risks they would not take if they were sober, or in order to get hold of the substance they break the law.
  • Financial difficulties - if the substance is expensive, such as heroin and pain medication, the addicted individual will sacrifice and take the risks necessary to obtain the drug.  Some addicts have reported to our Counselors that they spend upwards near $500-$800 per day just to keep themselves "well" from getting "sick" (withdrawal), which is an absolute fear for every addicted individual. 
  • Relationship problems - these are more common in drug/alcohol addiction and a major cause of domestic violence.

Some substance/alcohol abusers who are not technically addicted may also suffer from or cause some of the descriptions mentioned above, but they do not usually have the withdrawal symptoms of an addict or the same compulsion to consume the substance.

Although different drugs have different physical effects, the symptoms of addiction are similar. See if you recognize yourself in the following signs and symptoms of substance abuse and addiction. If so, consider talking to someone about your drug use.


  • You’re neglecting your responsibilities at school, work, or home (e.g. flunking classes, skipping work, neglecting your children) because of your drug use.
  • You’re using drugs under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high, such as driving while on drugs, using dirty needles, or having unprotected sex.
  • You’re new friends will become new using partners and will con, steal, and even hurt you physically when it has to due with money and drugs.
  • You’ll avoid anyone who knew you before you started using; you’re ashamed and embarrassed to be seen. On the other hand, depending on your morals and values, you’ll use your old friends and family to burn them for everything they have.
  • Your drug use is getting you into legal trouble, such as arrests for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, or stealing to support a drug habit, and depending on your lack of common sense, strong arm robbery, armed robbery, home evasions, and even great bodily injury – you just don’t care – the LOGIC part of your brain is no longer functioning as a normal person.
  • Your drug use is causing problems in your relationships, such as fights with your partner or family members, an unhappy boss, or the loss of old friends. Even worse, you begin physically abusing your partner.
  • Many more signs and symptoms, but finally, your thinking process will convince you that you don’t have a problem and the others are all wrong. You become a professional rationalizer – you have to convince yourself otherwise you might seek treatment and the addict is going to avoid seeking help until something tragic or traumatizing happens in their life; some may need two or three.


  • You’ve built up a drug tolerance. You need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects you used to attain with smaller amounts.
  • You take drugs to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without drugs, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
  • You’ve lost control over your drug use. You often do drugs or use more than you planned, even though you told yourself you wouldn’t. You may want to stop using, but you feel powerless.
  • Your life revolves around drug use. You spend a lot of time using and thinking about drugs, figuring out how to get them, and recovering from the drug’s effects.
  • You’ve abandoned activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, and socializing, because of your drug use.
  • You’ll loose your job from poor attendance, performance, and even illegal actions such as stealing or physically hurting a co-worker or your boss.
  • You’ll drop out of school/college and lie to friends, family, and others.
  • You continue to use drugs, despite knowing it’s hurting you. It’s causing major problems in your life—blackouts, infections, mood swings, depression, paranoia—but you use anyway.
  • You’re having uncontrollable cravings that lead to obsession and compulsion.
  • You’ll lie, cheat, and steal from the closest people around you, then progress to the public,
  • You’ll commit acts of shame to get the drug that you would never have even believed you were capable of carrying out.
  • You’ll fight, struggle, and avoid your love ones or those trying to get you help.
  • You’ll begin experience the body’s reaction to not having the alcohol or drug on a regular basis – its called withdrawal.


  • Alibis, Excuses, Justification, for Behavior
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Argumentative
  • Blaming others
  • Cravings
  • Dangerous behavior (IV Use, Driving Drunk, Domestic Violence, Self Harm)
  • Defensiveness
  • Denial of addiction problem
  • Depression
  • Diversion and Avoidance
  • Easily Confused
  • Guilt/Shame
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Irritability
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Minimization
  • Mood Swings
  • Obnoxious
  • Poor Concentration
  • Poor Insight into problem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rationalizing
  • Resentment
  • Social Isolation
  • Withdrawn


  • Body Aches
  • Chills
  • Cold Sweats
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs)
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle Aches/Tension
  • Nausea
  • Palpitations
  • Racing Heart
  • Restlessness
  • Restlessness
  • Runny Nose
  • Sweating
  • Tightness in Chest
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Watery Eyes
  • Yawning

If you or your loved one is experiencing any of the aforementioned signs and symptom, it is imperative you contact us NOW!

Toll Free 800.497.3271