Drug addiction is characterized by compulsive and uncontrollable drug-seeking despite negative outcomes. Using illicit drugs in a recreational way does not necessarily make you a drug addict, but long-term use can cause addiction. Over time, your brain and your body begin to depend on the physical and psychological effects of the drugs you take. Your body develops a kind of “new normal” that makes it seemingly impossible to stop using drugs. Drug addiction is a relapsing disease, which needs professional treatment.  

Addiction can also come from the need to avoid uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Drugs like cocaine, heroin, and opioid painkillers can cause very uncomfortable, even dangerous withdrawal and detox should be medically assisted. Drug addiction starts with early signs of dependence that can progress to full addiction. It is a complex problem that varies by individual. Here we seek to identify warning signs that can point to an growing or active drug addiction. 


Early Signs of Dependence

Drug addiction does not occur after only a few uses. Dependence grows over a period of time and a series of changing behaviors. Usually a drug habit increases as a way to avoid withdrawal symptoms. These early warning signs can point to a growing drug dependence that can become addiction.

  • Joining new social groups that engage in drug use
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Breaking the rule/law or lying to obtain money for drugs
  • Failing to complete work or personal responsibilities
  • Using one substance to enhance or counteract the effects of another one

Signs of Addiction

Early drug-dependent behaviors can also be the start of a psychological addiction. Thinking you need drugs or a substance to function normally is a path to dependence. As dependence grows, these warning signs of addiction appear.

  • Inability to get high without increasing the amount of drugs you take
  • Continuing to use drugs despite negative outcomes to your health, finances, relationships
  • Irresponsible use of drugs, such as using before driving
  • Altering the form of a drug, such as crushing a pill to snort or preparing it for injection
  • Breaking the law, such as theft or fraud to obtain drugs or prescriptions



There are many effective treatments for drug addiction. Trying to stop using by yourself is not an effective way to get clean. When seeking treatment, keep these important elements in mind.

  • No one treatment plan is right for everybody
  • Counseling and behavioral therapy are the most common
  • Medically assisted detox is only the first step in the recovery process
  • Staying in treatment long enough is critical
  • Treatment should address other mental disorders
  • Effective treatment addresses all of a patient’s needs, not just drug addiction

Next Steps

Drug addiction is a complex and varies from person to person. There are many different forms of treatment available. If you or a loved one needs advice on next steps, Rock Recovery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida can help. Call our 24-hour helpline or chat live with us now.