Drug Addiction: Symptoms, Causes, Complications, Risks,Treatment and Prevention

Drug addiction


Drug addiction is widely known as a disorder in which people are becoming highly dependent on substance use. Drug abuse is also considered as a chronic, relapsing brain disease which may affect the brain functions of a person who is addicted to certain drugs. Some drugs are linked to violent behavior when taken frequently and in high amounts, resulting in widespread claims that drug addiction is also a social issue aside from being a health issue.


Addiction to drugs is often the cause of an intense craving for certain types of drugs, leading most people into characterizing people addicted to drugs in that manner. Apart from this behavior, they may also exhibit other symptoms, which depend on the amount and the type of drug a person is intoxicated with.

Drugs have different effects on different persons. Some drugs can be severely damaging to the brain of a person, while some can be damaging to the heart or other vital organs first before it damages the brain. Some can affect all vital organs simultaneously.

Some symptoms that can be observed in most people who are addicted to drugs include:

  • Intense urge to use a substance
  • Need to have a regular supply of the substance
  • Irrational, often destructive, behavior (stealing, cutting back on social activities, intentionally not meeting expectations at work, driving while intoxicated)
  • Suffering from withdrawal symptoms once the substance intake is stopped
  • Spending money to obtain the substance
  • Mood swings
  • Change in behavior
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Diminished interest in hobbies
  • Changes in physical appearance (diminished interest in personal grooming and looking after personal hygiene)
  • Loss of connection with family
  • Red or shiny eye
  • Runny nose

The symptoms that may be experienced or observed in people addicted to drugs would depend on the substance they are addicted to. See the following symptoms as categorized by the substance.


A person may be exhibiting anxiety, belligerence, violence, confusion, having shaky hands, depression, dilated pupils, unusual weight loss, insomnia, paranoia, grandiose delusions, agitation, and loss of appetite.


A person may experience nausea, teeth clenching, aching muscles, and profuse sweating. They may also be observed to have a change in their ability to sense sound, touch, and light. There is also a change in the overall state of their health especially their mental and physical health. Ecstasy has a chemical substance that causes hyperthermia, which can lead to death.


A person addicted to this substance may lead to symptoms including insomnia, irritation, hallucination, confusion, paranoia, restlessness, poor sex drive, depression apart from often being angry and worried and having dilated pupils.

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)

This type of drugs is often associated with self-destructive behavior. A person addicted to this substance may experience nausea, vomiting, anxiety, hallucination, delusions, change the color of their skin or loss of skin pigmentation, euphoria, confusion, and paranoia. They may also be observed to often have dilated pupils, a distorted perspective of time and space, and are panicky.

Phencyclidine (PCP)

This substance can cause a person to become sweaty, dizzy, paranoid, anxious, fearful, aggressive, and have a numb feeling. They may also perceive themselves to have a weakened sense of the body. Some of them may also exhibit a violent or suicidal behavior.


It is possible to be addicted to some inhalants if they are taken in high amounts in long periods of time. People addicted to them may experience a diminished sense of hearing, smelling and balance, heightened emotions including short bursts of euphoria and silliness. They may be sufferers of migraines and habitual fainting. They may also be perceived as clumsy and are stammering or mumbling when they talk. They are often emotionally unstable, may experience loss of memory, and have a disturbing way of fluttering their eyes. In some cases, they may be experiencing brain atrophy symptoms.


People dependent on these drugs may be found to have sudden bursts of euphoria. Those who are addicted to the substance may suffer from depression as a result of diminishing self-confidence and low self-esteem.


This drug can cause a person to experience uncontrollable laughter, paranoia, short-term memory loss, lack of energy, loss of intellect, excessive mood swings, having the sweet smell of body, and having a dry mouth, red eyes, and excessive behavior.


Those who are addicted to depressants including barbiturates and tranquilizers may experience having slurred speech, tiredness, loose muscles, being unstable when walking and disoriented, having poor reflexes and poor judgment, and a reduction in self-awareness.


The causes of drug addiction may differ according to the mentality, the situation, the age, and the experience of a person. Often times though, persons who suffer from drug addiction are caused by their psyche. It all comes down to the strength of their beliefs and the pressures from their environment. Some of the factors that may affect their way of life include:

  • Family situation, education, personal problems, career
  • Traumatic experience and loss of a loved one
  • History of drug addiction in family
  • Peers
  • Mental health disorders (i.e. depression, PTSD)


Drug addiction is often linked to the deterioration of brain functions, particularly the brain’s neurons, which is responsible for the creation of neurotransmitters (send messages to bodily systems). The severity of it will differ according to how much drugs are being taken, how long they have been taken, how they are taken, and what types of drugs are taken, as some people addicted to different substances may take them in combination. When neurotransmitters are damaged, complications arise, as bodily systems start losing their functions.

People who are addicted to drugs are also prone to developing serious illnesses such as HIV and other infections as a result of using unsterilized needles and frequently having unprotected sex.

A person addicted to drugs may exhibit violent behaviors. They may be suicidal or murderous and may display destructive behaviors, such as driving recklessly and stealing. At home, they may commit crimes including rape, murder, and torture. Their rationality becomes a blur, and they are often found high in emotions.

As a result of their destructive behavior, they may end up becoming socially detached, which in turn could lead them further into addiction. Their mental and psychological state becomes unstable, and they may exhibit symptoms of people with mental disorders including depression and anxiety disorder.

Mothers who continuously take high amounts of substances while pregnant risk their unborn children of developing an addiction.

5Risk Factors

Mental illness. People who are already suffering from mental disorders are at a higher risk of getting addicted to drugs, as they are eager to find a way to deal with their mental illness.

Family issues. Members of the family who are often detached from other members of the family or are struggling with the issues being dealt with in the family (i.e. divorced parents, abusive parents) may submit to drug abuse as they seek for a way to cope with their problems. If there are relatives who are users or addicted to drugs, people are at risk of getting addicted to drugs.

Mothers who are addicted to drugs. It is possible for a baby to be born addicted to substances. This is due to the continued drug abuse of the mother despite her pregnancy.


Drug tests

This disorder can be diagnosed by taking a sample of a person’s urine or blood.

Interview and neuropsychological tests

A licensed alcohol and drug counselor, psychiatrist, and psychologist may examine as well a person’s focus, sense of balance, among other things.


Rehabilitation centers. People can be treated at a facility where they can be monitored and checked regularly by nurses and psychiatrists and/or psychologists. Their development will be examined, which is usually focused on their ability to cope without the substances. Patients will be designed a treatment plan, which will be tracked as to whether it is working for the patient or not. Part of the treatment would include detoxification where the body of a person addicted to drugs will be cleansed by slowly flushing out the chemicals from their bodily systems, so these can function properly again as well as help the patients prevent the symptoms of withdrawal behaviors.


The only way you can prevent drugs is by not trying them at all. There are some drugs that are legal but can be addictive when taken in high amounts. Addiction can be prevented by consuming the substance in the amount recommended by a physician or health specialist and only at a period you are told to take it.

In some cases, addiction can come as a result of curiosity. Never take drugs, supplements, or any type of medication without consulting it with your physician.

Teens can prevent drugs by putting their mental, emotional, and psychological health in check at all times. The temptation of taking drugs is high if their family have members who are addicted to certain substances or if they are suffering from depression as a result of bullying or other issues they may be dealing with. Talking can be a way to help them deal with their problems and prevent them from taking drugs and developing destructive behaviors to cope. People should form a bond with their children and other members of the family to help them keep away from the pull of drug abuse.