The Symptoms of Substance Abuse and Addiction

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

One of the biggest problems people with substance abuse and addiction face is denial. Sometimes this denial is wishful thinking, other times it is a lack of awareness.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

There are many experiences shared by those abusing substances and addicted to them, but everyone has their own unique story. If you feel that you, a friend, or a loved one is addicted, don’t hesitate to speak up—it might save a life!


Here are just a few of many possible warning signs:

  • The inability to control how much or how often alcohol or a substance is consumed, no matter how negative the consequences
  • Spending money on alcohol or a substance when you can’t afford necessities of life
  • Constant thinking about the substance and neglecting other activities
  • A family history of addiction
  • Increased tolerance to the substance
  • Withdrawal when you go off it
  • Deteriorating hygiene
  • A change in physical appearance
  • Secrecy about your use of the substance
  • Relationship problems with family, romantic partners, work, and self
  • The feeling that you need a “fix” at the end of a rough day

What To Do If You Experience These

The good news is that an addiction doesn’t have to be the end of a story. By being aware that you may have a problem, and realizing you do not have to be alone in this experience, there is help available.

If you, or a loved one, relate to that list, here are some things that can be done:

  • Develop a new routine, perhaps going for a walk or something you enjoy after work
  • Exercise
  • Allow yourself honest and vulnerable discussion with a trusted friend
  • Start a hobby that you can enjoy without the substance
  • Find a group of friends who do not drink but whose company you enjoy
  • Call us at (866) 971-5531 to talk with understanding people about your options.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.