Thinking Man

Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Addiction


In many situations, the first people to notice the signs of a drug or alcohol addiction are the friends and family of the person who is suffering.

They may be hesitant to intervene because they are afraid to drive a wedge in between them and their loved one. In some cases, family and friends allow substance abuse to go on because it can serve a purpose.

For example, letting a spouse drink heavily on weekends to cope with the stresses of their job during the week may help them to maintain their employment.

It’s extremely important for your health and safety as well as the health and well-being of your loved one, to respond whenever you notice any signs of addiction.


Here are the most common signs of drug and alcohol addiction:

  • Isolation from friends or family

  • Loss of interest in activities that used to interest them

  • Failures at school or work

  • Changes in body weight or appetite

  • Bloodshot or watery eyes

  • Tremors or shakiness at different times of day

  • Irregular sleep patterns

  • Excessive sweating

  • Dramatic mood swings

  • Secretive behavior

  • Anxiety and restlessness


Encouraging a Loved One to Seek Treatment. You are not in this alone, we provide so many great resources. Give us a call and let us know how we can help you.

Central Point Behavioral Health Center offers a few options for recovery, from our Substance Abuse Introductory workshop to our Alcohol and Other Drugs program, and our extensive 23/hr Substance Abuse and PTSD program. Click HERE to learn more.

Drugs interfere with the way neurons send, receive, and process signals via neurotransmitters.

​Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter in the body. This allows the drugs to attach onto and activate the neurons.

Other drugs, such as amphetamine or cocaine, can cause the neurons to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals by interfering with transporters.

Drugs can alter important brain areas  such as:

  • The basal ganglia, which play an important role in positive forms of motivation, including the pleasurable effects of healthy activities like eating, socializing, and sex. 

These areas form a key node of what is sometimes called the brain’s “reward circuit.” Drugs over-activate this circuit, producing the euphoria of the drug high. But with repeated exposure, the circuit adapts to the presence of the drug, diminishing its sensitivity and making it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides the drug.


  • The extended amygdala plays a role in stressful feelings like anxiety, irritability, and unease, which characterize withdrawal after the drug high fades and thus motivates the person to seek the drug again.


This circuit becomes increasingly sensitive with increased drug use. Over time, a person with substance use disorder uses drugs to get temporary relief from this discomfort rather than to get high. 


  • The prefrontal cortex powers the ability to think, plan, solve problems, make decisions, and exert self-control over impulses.


This is also the last part of the brain to mature, making teens most vulnerable.


Shifting balance between this circuit and the circuits of the basal ganglia and extended amygdala makes a person with a substance use disorder seek the drug compulsively with reduced impulse control.


Some drugs like opioids also disrupt other parts of the brain, such as the brain stem, which controls basic functions critical to life, including heart rate, breathing, and sleeping.


To learn more take our Substance Abuse Introductory workshop! Click HERE to learn more.


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