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Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment

Addiction, also known as a substance use disorder (SUD), can have a range of signs, symptoms, and effects that may have a harmful impact on your health and well-being. Different SUDs can have different diagnostic signs and symptoms, as well as a range of associated, substance-specific health effects.1 Knowing these signs and symptoms can help you or a loved one recognize when substance use becomes a problem and when it’s time to seek help.
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What Is Addiction?

According to the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM), drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing, and treatable brain disease characterized by an inability to control substance use despite knowing the negative effects it has on your health and well-being. Addiction occurs due to many factors, including your environment, genetics, and life experiences.2 Addiction is also known by the diagnostic term substance use disorder (SUD). Medical and mental health professionals rely on the criteria outlined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to diagnose a person with SUD.3

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Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) explains that SUD involves a combination of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms that indicate that a person is misusing a substance despite having drug- or alcohol-related problems. A diagnosis is based on the presence of behavioral problems that an individual shows due to their use of the substance. The DSM-5 groups diagnostic criteria into categories that include impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and specific drug criteria.3 Only a professional can diagnose SUD. However, if you recognize any of the signs and symptoms below, it may alert you to the need for professional help.

Potential Health Dangers of Substance Use

People can experience a wide range of health effects associated with drug addiction. These effects can vary by substance and can affect people in different ways. Health effects of addiction can also vary in duration and severity.

Getting Treatment and Starting Recovery

Researching and identifying the addiction treatment programs that best fit your needs is a crucial step toward recovery. It is recommended to ask your doctor or a treatment professional to help make the best decision. When considering treatment programs, consider factors such as:7, 8

  • Cost, location, and, length of the program.
  • Your insurance coverage.
  • Specific program outcomes.
  • Treatment approaches, including if they offer medication.
  • The program’s accreditation and presence of qualified staff.
  • The type of post-treatment services (aftercare) they offer.

Types of Addiction Recovery Programs

Several types of addiction treatment programs are available to meet the diverse needs of patients and may offer different interventions and therapies. Some common forms of treatment include:9, 10, 11, 12

Finding a Rehab Center

If you’re ready to find an addiction rehab center, American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help. AAC offers various levels of evidence-based care to suit your needs at facilities across the U.S. Contact us at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or verify your insurance now and reach out for more information later. Our caring admissions navigators are here to answer your questions, discuss treatment options, and help you with the admissions process once you’re ready.

Drug and alcohol addiction treatment locations:

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  • Dual-diagnosis treatment centers.
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  • Financial options available.
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