Five Ways to Tell if Someone Is an Addict

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This list of five ways to tell if someone is an addict can alert you that someone you care about may be dealing with an addiction.

Types of Addiction

Not all people who become addicts are involved in taking drugs or using alcohol. A person can have an addiction to certain behaviors, such as gambling, video games or even sex. The signs that may signal an issue are similar for all types of addiction. Keep in mind that there's no sure guarantee that a person exhibiting one or more of these signs is actually addicted to something. However, it's worth further investigation if that person displays any of these signs on a consistent basis.

Five Ways to Tell If Someone Is an Addict

1. Changes in Behavior

When it comes to addiction, a change in a person's typical behavior can be a red flag. If there are blocks of missing time when the individual can't be reached and he is evasive about where he was, this may be a sign that something is wrong.

A person who is addicted to a substance or an activity will do whatever it takes to keep that addiction fed. This will likely mean interruptions in his normal routine, and that includes going to work or school. The addict will have less time for activities that he participated in or enjoyed in the past. If your loved one is suddenly "too busy", it might be a sign of addiction.

2. Mood Swings

If a person in your life suddenly develops mood swings, he may be living with an addiction. When drugs or alcohol are involved, the person may be irritable because he is going through withdrawal. A person who feels guilty because he's using a substance to get high, or engaging in an activity that he knows is not a positive one, often expresses that guilt as impatience or irritability.

3. Defensiveness

An addict will likely become defensive if he is approached or confronted about his activities. A friend or family member who wants to bring the subject up will need to proceed very cautiously and avoid making accusations about whether an addiction is in play. Addicts become very good at deflecting attention away from the real issue, and a person who does so may be hiding an addiction.

4. Blaming

Another behavior that is all too familiar in addicts is laying blame on someone or something else. Many addicts claim multiple reasons for their addiction. Those reasons rarely place the blame on themselves for the choices they made to experiment with a substance or behavior. The person may claim that the addiction would never have started in the first place if not for someone else's influence or certain circumstances beyond his control. The goal of placing blame elsewhere is the same as getting defensive; it is to avoid talking about or taking responsibility for the addiction that has developed.

5. Keeping Secrets

An addict is likely not proud of his behavior, and it's not uncommon for a person with addiction issues to keep that part of his life secret. While he may try to keep the behaviors associated with the addiction below the radar, he may not be very successful at covering his tracks. Unauthorized time away from work or school, unexplained phone calls or credit card charges may also be signs of addiction. If he suddenly has a new circle of friends that you don't know much about, that can be another sign of an addiction issue.

The addict knows (at least on some level) that his behavior is leading to negative consequences in his life, and yet he continues the illicit activity anyway. The resulting guilt and shame lead the addict to keep that portion of his life secret from loved ones. He may be concerned that he will no longer be loved or accepted by friends or family members if the full extent of his activities is brought to light .


The five ways to tell if someone is an addict listed here are red flags that a person may be living with an addiction. To help that person, you should contact a professional counselor to discuss your suspicions and decide if arranging an intervention would be beneficial.

Five Ways to Tell if Someone Is an Addict