How to recognize addiction or abuse

Below are some signs of addiction or abuse.

Addiction

  • Tolerance to a substance.
  • Withdrawal symptoms.
  • Loss of control over use.
  • The person doesn’t function very well after using the substance.
  • The person can’t stop using the substance even though they know they have a problem.

An addiction can come about from many factors that aren’t just related to the substance (or gambling, in the case of compulsive gambling). Whether someone becomes addicted will also depend on the person and their environment.

Abuse

  • The use interferes with the person’s ability to fulfill their main obligations (work, school, family, etc.).
  • The person uses the substance in situations that pose a risk of injury (vehicle, machinery, etc.).
  • The person has repeated legal problems from their use of the substance.
  • The person uses the substance even though the habit causes them social and interpersonal problems.

In general, addiction and abuse refer to the inappropriate use of a substance that causes clinically significant distress, which means that the use impairs how the person functions and causes them suffering.