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Physical Signs of Addiction

By February 8, 2019 June 15th, 2023 No Comments
trafalgar addiction treatment centres

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction, there are a number of physical signs to consider that may be revealing.

While many of these signs do not necessarily indicate addiction, they may be useful in identifying a problem. If you have questions or concerns about addiction, contact Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres today.

Poor Hygiene, Unkempt Appearance

When coping with addiction, a person may struggle to carry out the small, ordinary tasks required to get through the day. This may result in lowered hygiene standards or a very unkempt appearance.

Bloodshot or Glazed Eyes

A person’s eyes can often feature indicators of addiction. If someone is regularly under the influence of alcohol or substances, their eyes may take on a glazed or distant look. They may also become bloodshot. This can be due to irregular sleeping patterns or the direct effects of the addictive substances.

Dilated or Constricted Pupils

Certain substances can make a person’s pupils dilate or constrict. If you notice that their pupils are unusually large or small, this may indicate addiction.

Signs of Exhaustion or Excessive Sleep

If a person often appears exhausted, this may be a sign of addiction. They may be sleeping too little or too irregularly due to their addictive behaviour. The addictive substances might also affect the quality of their sleep. Excessive sleep may also indicate addiction, as a person may be exhausted by their addictive behaviour. The substances they are using may also have a sedative component, which can dramatically reduce energy levels.


An addicted person may develop insomnia. This may be because of the stimulant affects of the substances they are using or because the agitation produced by cravings make it difficult to sleep. Addictive behaviour can also result in irregular or sporadic sleeping patterns, making it difficult to sleep when trying to do so.

Weight Loss or Gain

Dramatic changes in weight can indicate addiction. An addicted person will often eat significantly less than usual due to lack of appetite. They may also lack the finances to eat properly due to their addiction. Certain substances, including alcohol, can also lead to weight gain.

Shakes or Tremors

Shakes or small tremours can indicate cravings for or withdrawal from an addictive substance such as alcohol or opioids. They may also be a direct physical response to a drug or a sign of overdose.

Appearance of Intense Agitation

An addicted person may often appear intensely agitated. This may be due to the stimulant effects of certain drugs or to cravings.


Substances that are consumed by drinking or smoking can produce an odour on the breath. Addiction can also affect a person’s hygiene, meaning that their breath may not smell fresh or clean.

Bloody Nose

Drugs such as cocaine, which users ingest through the nose, can weaken the arteries in that area. This can result in frequent bloody noses.


An addicted person’s physical health will usually be negatively affected. They may also not sleep sufficiently or maintain a proper diet. This can result in their skin becoming very pale.

Track Marks

Track marks on a person’s skin are one of the clearest indicators of addiction. They will most often be located on a person’s arms but can emerge anywhere that the person has injected themselves with an addictive substance.

Slurred Speech

Slurred speech is a common sign of addiction. It can often mean that someone is currently under the influence of an addictive substance. It may also be a result of exhaustion, lack of coordination or another form of physical issue caused by addictive behaviour.

Lack of Coordination

If a person appears to be unusually uncoordinated, perhaps stumbling or dropping objects often, this may be a sign of addiction. Certain substances can directly affect physical coordination. Addictive behaviour can also lead to exhaustion or poor physical health, which can in turn negatively affect coordination.

Frequent Headaches

Experiencing frequent or unusually severe headaches may be a sign that the body is being deprived of necessary supports by an addictive substance. They may also come as a result of poor diet, irregular sleeping or insomnia, which may in turn be caused by addictive substances. Certain substances such as alcohol will also dehydrate the body, which often causes headaches.

Shallow Breathing

Addictive substances and addictive behaviour may impact the respiratory system. Sustained shallow breathing may be an indication of addiction.

Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating may be a result of cravings or withdrawal. It can also be a direct result of using drugs such as opioids. Addiction can affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which may lead to excessive sweating.


Seizures usually involve blackouts and a loss of physical control. They are a common sign of overdose. Seizures are very serious and require immediate medical attention.

Losing Consciousness

Loss of consciousness is a sign of overdose and requires immediate medical assistance. It may also occur as a result of exhaustion caused by addictive behaviour.

Extremely Energetic or Elated

If someone appears to be extremely energetic or elated with no obvious cause, they may be under the influence of a stimulant drug such as cocaine or an amphetamine. If you observe this kind of behaviour regularly, it may suggest addictive behaviour. This behaviour may also be an indication of a mental health disorder such as manic depression, which may co-occur alongside addiction.

Signs of Paranoia or Anxiety

If someone appears paranoid or anxious, this may be as a result of substance use. Intense anxiety is a common side effect of various addictive substances. It may also be a result of cravings or withdrawal from an addictive substance. Paranoia is also a common side effect of the abuse of drugs including cocaine and many hallucinogens.


Frequent or sustained dizziness may be caused by addictive behaviour. It can be a result of the physical effects of an addictive substance or exhaustion, hunger or dehydration caused by addictive behaviour.


Sustained itching can be a sign of addiction or withdrawal. It may be a side effect of an addictive substance causing excessive energy or agitation. It may also be a symptom of agitation caused by withdrawal.

Signs of Depression or Lethargy

If someone appears depressed or lethargic regularly, this may be as a result of addiction. Depression is a side effect of substances such as alcohol and cocaine. Addictive behaviour can also leave the addicted person exhausted for a variety of reasons including insomnia or the inability to become energized by ordinary stimuli. Depression can also be caused by withdrawal.

Digestive Problems

Addictive substances and addictive behaviour can severely impact the digestive system. Frequent or sustained digestive symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation may indicate addiction.

Vein or Limb Damage

Injecting addictive substances such as heroin or crack cocaine can result in severe vein and limb damage.

Increased Tolerance

If you are addicted to a substance such as alcohol or cocaine, your frequent use will lead to an increased tolerance. This means that you will need larger quantities to achieve the same effect. If you observe that you or someone you are concerned about is consuming more of a substance to achieve the desired effect, this may be a sign of addiction.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are one of the clearest indicators of addiction. If you or someone you are concerned about experiences withdrawal symptoms after not using a substance for a number of hours or days, they are addicted to this substance. For information on the withdrawal process and common withdrawal symptoms, see our blog on the subject.

If you have any questions or concerns about addiction, contact Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres today.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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