What are the 6 subtle signs of addiction?

What are the subtle signs of addiction

The signs of drug use and substance abuse, in general, are often talked about at great length in articles, on social media and within medical communities and other healthcare resources.

All this is a positive thing as addiction awareness can be the difference between a person deciding to get help for a drug abuse problem or continuing their substance abuse habit.

Lack of sleep

Known symptoms

Some of the signs associated with a potential drug problem may be slightly more obvious when compared to others, such as:

  • Social and family withdrawal
  • Decreased (or increased) appetite
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Sleeping too much or lack of sleep
  • Mood swings
  • A change in eating habits

There are also plenty of ”less obvious” signs that someone you love may be abusing drugs and other substances.

Subtle signs of drug addiction

What are the subtle signs of drug addiction?

According to behavioral health specialists, substance use or drugs and alcohol addiction have clear and subtle signs. Depending on the severity of the addiction – there are plenty of addiction behaviors and addiction types, including:

Low-key signs of addiction

Drug addiction and substance use are complex disorders.

When someone starts abusing drugs, it may be their way of dealing with past traumas or any other adverse life experiences such as unresolved grief, anxiety and depression.

Drug abuse causes

Drug abuse causes

According to addiction specialists, trauma is very often at the heart of addiction. 

Using drugs or other substances is a way for people to numb out or conceal the pain associated with complex life events.

Many people take up drinking to forget about their problems or to appear more confident in the presence of friends and family members.

There’s a mixed bag of reasons as to why an addict turns to drug abuse and other stimulants.

However, regardless of what an addict’s reasons for substance abuse might be, family and friends must be made aware of the crucial signs of addiction such as drug use, alcohol, and other substances.

What are the subtle symptoms?

Behavioral health specialists have enlisted several low key symptoms of drug use to look out for, they include:

#1. Frequently getting ill

When someone is trying to hide a drug or alcohol problem, they frequently complain of feeling under the weather – the physical symptoms they describe are often vague and hard to prove or disprove.

All this can lead to extended absences from work or them failing to attend family or social functions. 

This type of behavior is helpful to users as they get to spend more time alone, all of which allows them to continue the cycle of abusing drugs and other stimulants.

#2. Telling stories

Addicts are great storytellers, and they often tell elaborate tales to cover up their substance use addiction.

All this is to conceal their actions whilst abusing drugs or alcohol; they may also drastically proclaim that they haven’t touched a drink or taken any drugs for weeks; these tactics often get used to deflect suspicion.

#3. Dissapearing

One of the many signs of drug abuse are when a person disappears (and then reappears) at family gatherings or social events, all of which could be a sign that they are using drugs.

An addict may also fail to show up to family events altogether. Users tend to fly under the radar and often choose their drug abuse habit over spending quality time with a loved one, friends or family members.

All this can be hard for people to notice at first, but it could be symptomatic of a drug problem if someone consistently exhibits this type of behavior.

#4. Long trips to the bathroom

When an addict abuses drugs – they tend to go to the bathroom a lot more than the average person; they also take longer bathroom trips.

Another red flag is when people notice that their medication has gone missing from the bathroom cabinet, all of which may indicate that someone you love has a prescription drug addiction and is helping themselves to your medication.

It can be hard to control any addiction. Therefore, people must be aware of any missing medication from the bathroom, kitchen or any other place that medicine may get stored, as this alone can be a sign.

#5. Working late

We all have to work a few extra hours from time to time, but users often consistently stay late at the office to indulge in substances such as drugs or alcohol.

People who take drugs will often tell themselves that ”they deserve to let their hair down” especially given that they work so hard. 

Working late can also cover up symptoms of drug-related addiction such as:

  • Fatigue and anxiety
  • Lack of sleep (or too much sleep)
  • Low mood and mood swings
  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Bad eating habits or poor appetite
  • Lack of interest in family, school, friends and hobbies
  • Messy appearance or unkempt appearance
  • Lack of energy

Addicts may also rationalize their addiction behaviors by complaining that they are stressed out at work, school or college and need stimulants to help them perform better.

#6. Money problems

Frequently, addicts end up in debt or experience huge financial problems due to their drug-taking habits.

People with drug abuse issues may also get involved in illegal money schemes, obtain payday loans, take up odd jobs, and in more extreme cases, dip into their children’s education fund.

Users may also borrow money from friends and family and wrack up vast amounts of debt they can’t payback.

All this behavior is synonymous with the more lesser-known signs of drug abuse and substance addiction.


Fortunately, there is help and support available for those seeking recovery from substance abuse.

Treatment may involve admission into a center such as a rehabilitation program – these types of centers usually offer a whole range of effective treatments designed to get people clean. They involve:

  • Residential treatment
  • Detox management
  • Ten or twelve-step programs
  • Relapse prevention
  • Mental health treatment

Other ways to get help

As well as the treatment programs mentioned above, there are also other treatment options for those looking to overcome drug abuse, some of which are available at most rehab centers. 

They involve:

Looking to the future

It is not unusual for people with adverse life experiences to want to take drugs or stimulants to block out the pain from past trauma.

Trauma treatment

The brain is a complex mechanism – and often, when people experience traumatic events – these events get stored in the central nervous system and the brain, all of which may produce unpleasant symptoms such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the majority of cases, people are usually unaware that they have suffered a trauma at all and may put their symptoms down to something else like stress or financial worries when in reality they are experiencing symptoms of trauma – a condition heavily linked to addiction.

Therefore, people with substance addictions must get treated for addiction and any underlying trauma to help prevent future relapse.

Frontyard - Centre For Health and Healing

Get in touch

It is possible to regain control over your life after addiction and medical centers and addiction treatment programs are specifically designed to help you through the process of long-term recovery. Contact our team today to find out how we can help.

Call now
Ready to get help?
Call for treatment options
Need financing?
Payment plans available