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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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Signs of Drug Addiction

Addiction -- both to prescription and street drugs -- is a growing problem. If you’re worried that you or a loved one may have an addiction, there are signs to help you know.

You may have an addiction to prescription drugs if:

  • You're not using medications in the way they're prescribed. You take larger doses, or take the drug more often than the prescription calls for. Or you use the medicine in a form not prescribed, such as crushing pills.
  • You go to more than one doctor to get prescriptions for the same drug or problem.
  • You use meds prescribed for other people.
  • You avoid telling the doctor about all the drugs you're taking.
  • You keep taking a drug after it's no longer needed for a health problem.
  • You look in other people's medicine cabinets for drugs to take.
  • You take prescribed meds with alcohol or other drugs.

Other signs you may have an drug problem:

  • You need more and more of a substance to get the same effects, and you can take more before you feel an effect.
  • You feel strange when the drug wears off. You may be shaky, depressed, sick to your stomach, sweat, or have headaches. You may also be tired or not hungry. In severe cases, you could even be confused, have seizures, or run a fever.
  • You can't stop yourself from using the drug, even if you want to. You are still using even though it's making bad things happen in your life, like trouble with friends, family, work, or the law.
  • You spend a lot of your time thinking about the drug: how to get more, when you'll take it, how good you feel, or how bad you feel afterward.
  • You have a hard time giving yourself limits. You might say you'll only use "so much" but then can't stop and end up using twice that amount. Or you use it more often than you meant to.
  • You've lost interest in things you once liked to do.
  • You've begun having trouble doing normal daily things, like cooking or working.
  • You drive or do other dangerous things (like use heavy machines) when you are on the drug.
  • You borrow or steal money to pay for drugs.
  • You hide the drug use or the effect it is having on you from others.
  • You're having trouble getting along with co-workers, teachers, friends, or family members. They complain more about how you act or how you've changed.
  • You sleep too much or too little, compared to how you used to. Or you eat a lot more or a lot less than before.
  • You look different. You may have bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, frequent bloody noses, or you may have gained or lost weight.
  • You have a new set of friends with whom you do drugs and go to different places to use the drugs.

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