Signs and Symptoms

How do I know there is a problem?

Whether it is drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or any other kind of addiction—the symptoms are similar.  People may experience just one, or all of these signs. 


To a loved one, it may be completely obvious that a problem exists.  But for addicts, they sincerely believe that problems in their lives are caused by something other than their substance use or addictive behavior.  Due to the nature of the disease, they believe their use is normal and do not realize a problem exists.   

Using despite negative consequences

One of the most central signs of addiction is continued use despite experiencing negative consequences.  Someone may have lost their job or are experiencing marital problems because of their addiction, but they can't seem to stop.   


A person may need increasingly larger amounts of the substance or behavior to achieve the same effect.  For example, someone might start out needing 2 or 3 beers to feel the effects of alcohol, but after continued use may need 5 or 6 to feel the same way.


A person may feel a strong need, desire, or urge to use, and may feel anxious and irritable if they are unable to use. 

Loss of control

A person may drink more alcohol or take more drugs than intended, or may use at a time or place they had not planned.  A person may also try to reduce or stop using many times, but fail. In some instances, a person can go months at a time without using, but eventually relapses. 


A person may be constantly thinking or obsessing about the drug or behavior.  For example, they may have difficulty concentrating at work because they are concerned about when they will be able to use again.


In some cases when alcohol or drug use is stopped, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms.  Withdrawal symptoms differ depending on the drug, but they may include nausea, sweating, shakiness, depression, irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and mood changes.  Withdrawal can be life-threatening, so you should see your physician or call us if you or someone you love is experiencing these symptoms. 

We want you to know that treatment is effective and people recover from their addictions every day.  Call us at 712-234-2300 or 1-800-472-9018 and we will be happy to help answer any questions you may have.

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 (800) 472-9018

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