backup og meta

Signs of Drug Addiction: What to Look For

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Pharmacology

Updated Feb 23, 2021

Signs of Drug Addiction: What to Look For

Drug addiction is a complicated but fairly common condition affecting many Filipinos. Despite the big pushes toward mental health and addiction awareness, there are still many stigmas. Certain mannerisms may be signs of an addiction or another disease all together. In order to better identify possible signs of drug addiction, it is important to avoid personal biases toward other people.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Signs of drug addiction

#1: Mood swings

Firstly, it is important to understand that it is normal for someone’s mood to change throughout the day. This is especially true if something unexpected happens and it catches you off guard. However, a mood swing is typically very sudden and intense. In some cases, the mood may seem exaggerated or unwarranted. 

#2: Inconsistency

Another sign that someone you know may be struggling with an addiction is inconsistency. Addiction and dependence can cause a person to prioritize satisfying their cravings over other obligations. Indicators of inconsistency can be breaking promises, missing appointments, leaving meetings, or otherwise unpredictable moods and actions. Fibbing or lying may be used in these situations as a way to get out of obligations.

#3: Financial problems

Substance abuse and addiction take a toll on finances. Firstly, drugs carry a hefty price tag. However, the sheer number of uses required to satisfy an addiction are what really hurt the bank. Despite this financial burden, many people who are in lower socioeconomic brackets have problems with addiction. Even well-off individuals can drain their financial resources because of addiction. People with addictions may sell their belongings, ask for money, or worse, resort to stealing.

#4: Physical markings

Unlike other signs of drug addiction, physical markings are easier to spot. Injectable drug users will have bruising or discolored skin around the inner elbow or other areas they stick the needles. For inhaled or “snorted” drugs, runny nose or bleeding often occur. Drugs taken by mouth can damage the oral mucosa and normal flora, increasing the risk of infection, sores, and tooth decay.

#5: Evidence of the drugs

Lastly, seeing the actual drugs or paraphernalia is one of the most obvious signs of drug addiction. Oftentimes, drug users will go to great lengths to hide their addiction from those around them. Hiding spots can be under the bed or in dresser drawers. Other times, drugs can be hidden in plain sight, like in books, empty soda cans, or even in stuffed toys. These drugs may be discovered on accident while cleaning the room or rearranging furniture.

Contributing factors to drug addiction

The type of drug used

signs of drug addiction

The addictiveness of a drug can depend on the substance being used. Some drugs may not be addictive at high doses while others can be highly addictive with a small amount or after the first use. Highly addictive drugs include nicotine (e.g. cigarettes) and opioids. Opioids are used to manage pain and are strictly monitored due to its potential for dependency and abuse. 

Family history

Addiction is wrongly considered a lifestyle choice by people who do not understand addictions. While people may choose to use drugs, they do not choose to become addicted. In addition, some risk factors of addiction are out of one’s control. Addiction, like other mental health problems, have genetic and environmental factors. Addiction is more likely if you live with someone who uses drugs or have family members with addictions.

Stress and poor mental health

Lastly, stress and mental health problems can be contributing factors to addiction. In most cases, people turn to substances like drugs to cope with stress. Unfortunately, many cases of addiction are accompanied by preexisting mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. While drugs may provide a temporary escape from uncomfortable emotions and thoughts, it eventually makes them worse.

Understanding Mental Illness Stigma in the Philippines

Key takeaways

In summary, there are several signs of drug addiction. Some signs like physical markings can be dead giveaways, other signs may be harder to spot. If you see any of these signs in your friends or loved ones, it may be time for an intervention. Talk to a mental health professional or addiction help center for more information and assistance.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Written by

Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD


Updated Feb 23, 2021

advertisement iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

advertisement iconadvertisement
advertisement iconadvertisement