Signs of addiction

Early recognition of the signs of alcohol or drug addiction is vital to prevent the situation from escalating. It is estimated that 50% of problem drinkers remain undetected and therefore untreated.

Warning signs of addiction

  • Preoccupation:A great amount of time is spent getting hold of alcohol and drugs, using them and recovering from their effects. The person’s life revolves around the drug.
  • Craving: The need to drink alcohol or take drugs becomes more urgent.
  • Secrecy: Not ad-missing where they were or who they were with at times of using.
  • Change: in their social circle and in their appearance and personality – depression, anxiety isolation and loss of self-esteem.
  • Broke: Always asking for money.
  • Neglecting: their appearance and hygiene.
  • Unease: at social events without the drug.
  • Intoxication: during the day or at inappropriate events.
  • Effort: Going to considerable effort to obtain drink/drugs.
  • Morning drinking or using

Problems at work

  • Turning up late for work,
  • Smelling of alcohol in the morning or after lunch,
  • Being unreliable,
  • Arriving at meetings smelling of alcohol,
  • Failing to turn up to business appointments,
  • Drinking at lunch,
  • Erratic performance,
  • Risk taking.

More symptoms of addiction

Hiding the evidence

People addicted to alcohol and drugs become skilled at concealing the signs of their addiction – e.g. drinking on their own, hiding bottles in the garage or drugs in their bedroom. This is a response to the deepening guilt and shame surrounding the addiction.

Attempts to cut-back or quit

Some alcoholics/drug users express a persistent desire to quit and make unsuccessful efforts to cut back. Sometimes they may stop consuming the drug or alcohol for a period of time, but inevitably they will go back to drinking/using again.

Drinking despite existing health problems

The person continues to drink, despite the knowledge of having a persistent physical or psychological problem caused or exacerbated by alcohol. 


Increased tolerance indicates physiological adaptation by the brain to the presence of the drug. If someone has a high tolerance to alcohol this means that they drink frequently and in large amounts to maintain this tolerance. The person must consume more frequently, more rapidly and in increasing amounts to get the desired effect.

Reduced activities

Neglecting their appearance and failing to keep social appointments with friends.

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