There are many different types of addiction. Understanding the addictive process and the danger signs can help you to tell the difference between addictive behavior, problematic behavior that is not an addiction, and normal behavior that is non-problematic or healthy. When asking yourself, “Am I addicted?” remember that substance use, although risky, isn’t always addiction, and many addictive behaviors, in moderation, are normal everyday or recreational activities for many people.

All addictions, whether to substances or to behaviors, involve both physical and psychological processes. Each person’s experience of addiction is slightly different, but usually involves a cluster of some of the following symptoms of addiction. You can still be addicted even if you do not have all of the symptoms.

There are many different addictions, but similar symptoms span them all. Some of the common symptoms of addiction are:

  • Tolerance – the need to engage in the addictive behavior more and more to get the desired effect
  • Withdrawal happens when the person does not take the substance or engage in the activity, and they experience unpleasant symptoms, which are often the opposite of the effects of the addictive behavior
  • Difficulty cutting down or controlling the addictive behavior
  • Social, occupational or recreational activities becoming more focused around the addiction, and important social and occupational roles being jeopardized
  • The person becoming preoccupied with the addiction, spending a lot of time on planning, engaging in, and recovering from the addictive behavior

    Signs of Addiction

    Symptoms can only be experienced by the person with the addiction, whereas signs can be observed by other people. You can never know what someone else is experiencing unless they tell you, so if you are concerned that someone else may have an addiction, look for signs as well as for symptoms.

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