How to Spot Addictive Behaviors in Yourself and Others

By following this link, you are in one of three camps:

  1. You’re interested in the subject of addiction.
  2. You’re concerned for another person in your life,
  3. You’re concerned that you might be dealing with an addiction of some kind.

Welcome, you have come to the right place! A word of caution however, if you are in the second or third camp, please consider seeking help by giving us a call at 832-934-9036. Also consider reaching out via the SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) which is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations (https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline)

First, what is an addiction? In short, an addiction is when a person compulsively and persistently uses a substance of some kind or behaves in a way that creates negative consequences. Addictions are often formed unconsciously.

Signs that another person is suffering from an addiction can include:

  • Difficulties at school, disinterest in school-related activities, and declining grades
  • Poor work performance, being chronically late to work, appearing tired and disinterested in work duties, and receiving poor performance reviews
  • Changes in physical appearance, such as wearing inappropriate or dirty clothing and a lack of interest in grooming
  • Altered behavior, such as an increased desire for privacy
  • Drastic changes in relationships
  • A noticeable lack of energy when performing daily activities
  • Spending more money than usual or requesting to borrow money
  • Issues with financial management, such as not paying bills on time
  • Changes in appetite, such as a decreased appetite and associated weight loss
  • Bloodshot eyes, poor skin tone, and appearing tired or run down
  • Defensiveness when asked about substance use
  • https://americanaddictioncenters.org/adult-addiction-treatment-programs/know-is-someone-on-drugs

Signs that you might be suffering from an addiction:

  • You have withdrawn from social interactions that normally gave you pleasure.
  • You have created a routine around a substance or behavior that feels compulsive in nature
  • Your stress levels and mood have started to decline even if nothing else in your life has changed
  • You tell yourself that you will or could stop any day but never do
  • You wish that the compulsion was not part of your life anymore but continue day after day
  • You keep your behavior a secret or try to hide it from others in your life
  • You spend parts of your day thinking about the next time you will do the behavior and build up the event
  • You start blaming everything else in your life but the habit for your problems
  • Relationships in your life feel stressful or strained and to cope you might consider doing the habit more.
  • Other hobbies or things in your like don’t offer the same enjoyment as they once did

There are many reasons why one might be drawn towards the use of addictive substances or behaviors and begin to rely on them to cope. You might scan through this blog, find some things that resonate with your current experience and still feel like you have things under control or don’t have a problem. I would challenge you to consider speaking to a mental health professional to determine to what degree that is true.

Counselors are trained professionals that will work with you at your pace to help you uncover what might be beneath addictive behaviors. However, there are many resources and groups that are free to attend that would be a great support as well, like local alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous meetings that meet in person as well as virtually. These groups do not require you to be sober to join and always accept new members.


Samhsa’s national helpline. SAMHSA. (n.d.). https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Signs of drug use & addiction: How to tell if someone is on Drugs. American Addiction Centers. (2024, January 3). https://americanaddictioncenters.org/adult-addiction-treatment-programs/know-is-someone-on-drugs

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