Signs of Addiction: What to Look Out For

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Addiction can profoundly impact a person’s life, causing detrimental effects on their physical and mental well-being, relationships, work performance, and overall quality of life. Recognizing the signs of addiction can facilitate early intervention and support for individuals struggling with addictive behaviors.

In this guide, we will explore the common signs of addiction and provide insights into both the physical and behavioral indicators of addiction to look out for. You will also discover how to connect with evidence-based treatment in Ohio.

man sitting at a table to represent indicators of addiction

Physical Signs of Addiction

When it comes to identifying addiction, physical signs can provide valuable clues. While the specific physical manifestations can vary depending on the substance involved, there are numerous physical signs that may suggest the presence of addiction. These include:

  • Changes in appearance and personal hygiene: One of the most prominent addiction signs is a decline in personal grooming and hygiene. Individuals may appear disheveled, neglect their physical appearance, and have an unkempt or unclean appearance. This could include unwashed hair, body odor, and a lack of attention to overall cleanliness.
  • Weight changes: Addiction can often impact an individual’s appetite and eating habits, leading to noticeable weight fluctuations. Some substances may suppress appetite, resulting in rapid weight loss, while others may increase cravings and lead to weight gain.
  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes: Bloodshot or glazed eyes can be a telltale sign of substance abuse, especially with alcohol, cannabis, or drug use. The eyes may appear red, irritated, or have a dull, glassy appearance.
  • Impaired coordination and motor skills: Certain substances can affect motor coordination and impair physical abilities. Individuals may exhibit unsteady movements, tremors, slurred speech, or have difficulty maintaining balance and coordination.
  • Changes in sleep patterns: Addiction can disrupt normal sleep patterns, leading to sleep disturbances. Individuals may experience insomnia, restless sleep, or excessive sleepiness. These changes in sleep can further contribute to fatigue and daytime drowsiness.
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms: When individuals addicted to certain substances abruptly stop using or significantly reduce their intake, they may experience physical withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can vary depending on the substance but may include nausea, sweating, tremors, muscle aches, and cravings.
  • Skin problems and track marks: Intravenous drug use can leave visible signs on the skin. Needle marks (track marks) may be evident, particularly on the arms or other areas where injections are commonly administered. Additionally, substance abuse can lead to skin problems, such as acne, sores, or skin infections.
  • Dental issues: Substance abuse, especially drug use, can have detrimental effects on dental health. Poor oral hygiene, teeth grinding, and a diet high in sugary substances can contribute to dental decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

These physical signs may also be attributable to other factors or health conditions. This means that physical addiction signs and symptoms should be considered in conjunction with other behavioral and psychological indicators of addiction. If you observe these physical signs or suspect someone may be struggling with addiction, encourage them to seek professional help and support.

Remember, although addiction is a complex condition, recovery is possible with the right treatment and support. Reach out to healthcare professionals, addiction specialists, or reputable treatment centers to explore available resources and treatment options.

A woman stands by the ocean representing behavioral signs of addiction.

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

In addition to physical signs of an addict, behavioral changes can also indicate the potential development of substance use disorder. These changes may be observed in an individual’s actions, habits, and interactions with others. While everyone’s behavior can vary, here are some common behavioral signs that may suggest the presence of addiction:

  • Increased secrecy and isolation: People struggling with addiction often exhibit a desire for privacy and may become more secretive about their activities and behaviors. They may isolate themselves from family and friends, avoid social gatherings, and become defensive or evasive when questioned about their actions.
  • Drastic changes in social circles: Addiction can lead to significant changes in social relationships. Individuals may distance themselves from their usual friends and acquaintances and start spending time with a new group of people who share their addictive behaviors or provide easy access to substances.
  • Neglecting responsibilities and obligations: As addiction takes hold, individuals often prioritize obtaining and using the substance or engaging in addictive behaviors over fulfilling their responsibilities. They may neglect work or school obligations, miss deadlines, experience a decline in work or academic performance, and show a lack of commitment to previously important activities.
  • Financial difficulties: Addiction can put a strain on a person’s finances. Individuals may start experiencing financial problems, such as difficulty paying bills, accumulating debt, borrowing money frequently, or engaging in illegal activities to fund their addictive habits.
  • Changes in behavior and mood: Addictive substances or behaviors can lead to noticeable changes in behavior and mood. Those with addictions may become more irritable, agitated, or exhibit sudden mood swings. Additionally, they may display unpredictable behavior, including impulsivity, risk-taking, and engaging in activities they would not typically participate in.
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities: Addiction often causes people to lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may no longer engage in hobbies, sports, or social events that were once important to them. The substance or addictive behavior becomes their primary focus, replacing previous sources of pleasure and fulfillment.
  • Relationship problems: Addiction can strain relationships with family members, friends, and romantic partners. Individuals may become distant, argumentative, or deceitful, leading to trust issues and conflicts. Their relationships may suffer from broken promises, unexplained absences, and an overall breakdown in communication and emotional connection.
  • Continued use despite negative consequences: One of the most significant behavioral signs of addiction is the continued use of substances or engagement in addictive behaviors despite experiencing negative consequences. Individuals may be aware of the harm caused by their addiction yet find it challenging to stop or control their behaviors.

Approach individuals showing these behavioral signs with empathy and understanding. Encouraging open communication, expressing concern for their well-being, and offering support can help them feel more comfortable seeking help. Addiction is a chronic and progressive condition, and professional treatment and support are crucial for recovery. Early intervention can make a significant difference in overcoming addiction and rebuilding a healthy, fulfilling life.


What are the signs of alcohol addiction?

Signs of alcohol addiction may include increased tolerance, inability to control or limit alcohol consumption, withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or cut down, neglecting responsibilities or relationships due to alcohol use, and continued drinking despite adverse outcomes.

What are the signs of cocaine addiction?

Signs of a cocaine addict can include intense cravings for cocaine, using larger amounts of cocaine than intended, neglecting personal or professional responsibilities, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug, and engaging in risky behaviors to obtain or use cocaine.

What are the signs of meth addiction?

Signs of meth addiction may include extreme weight loss, increased energy and alertness, hyperactivity, erratic behavior, dental problems (often called meth mouth), insomnia, paranoia, and a decline in physical appearance and personal hygiene.

What are the signs of opioid addiction?

Signs of opioid addiction can include a strong desire to use opioids, difficulty controlling or reducing opioid use, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit, spending a significant amount of time obtaining or using opioids, neglecting social or occupational obligations, and using opioids despite negative consequences.

What are the signs of heroin addiction?

Signs of heroin addiction can include track marks or needle marks on the body, sudden weight loss, constricted pupils, withdrawal symptoms when not using heroin, changes in behavior or mood, social isolation, and financial difficulties due to spending money on heroin.

A woman sits looking out at a sunset to represent common signs of addiction in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Get Help for Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you or a loved one requires help fighting back against addiction, we can help at Ohio Recovery Centers. We treat addictions to prescription medications, illicit drugs, and alcohol.

Studies indicate that many mild and moderate substance use disorders respond just as well to residential rehab as intensive outpatient treatment. Access affordable and flexible addiction treatment without compromising the quality of care you receive. We offer both IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and traditional outpatient programs at our Cincinnati rehab.

Regardless of the level of treatment intensity that makes the best fit, you can benefit from a personalized combination of MAT (medication-assisted treatment), behavioral therapies, and holistic treatments. All Ohio Recovery Centers treatment programs feature a robust aftercare component with access to ongoing treatment if required.

Call admissions at 877-679-2132 for immediate assistance.

Table of Contents

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn