Signs of Addiction | Center on Addiction


Addiction Symptoms

Diagnostic Evaluation

Diagnostic Evaluation

There are no blood, urine or tissue tests that alone diagnose the disease of addiction. It is diagnosed by a person’s behavioral symptoms, which include continued, compulsive use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs or other compulsive behaviors in spite of damaging health and social consequences.    

Addiction Symptoms Checklist 

Talk to a health care provider if you experienced two or more of these symptoms in the last year:      

  • Often taking more of the substance for a longer period than intended
  • Ongoing desire or unsuccessful efforts to reduce use
  • Great deal of time spent to obtain, use or recover from substance
  • Craving the substance
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at work, home or school as a result of continued use
  • Continued use despite ongoing social or relationship problems caused or worsened by use
  • Giving up or reducing social, occupational or recreational activities because of use
  • Repeated use in physically dangerous situations (like drinking or using other drugs while driving, or smoking in bed)
  • Continued use despite ongoing physical or mental health problems caused or worsened by use
  • Developing tolerance (feeling less effect from the substance with continued use)
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after reducing use (symptoms vary by substance). Withdrawal does not happen with all substances; examples include inhalants and hallucinogens

Comprehensive Assessment

Source: DSM-5

Comprehensive Assessment 

If an individual is diagnosed with a substance problem, a physician—in collaboration with other health care professionals—should perform a comprehensive assessment to determine:

  • Severity
  • Any other medical conditions 
  • Potential for complications related to withdrawal
  • Presence of other factors (individual and social) related to substance use that may affect treatment. Examples can include: child care needs, legal problems, adequate housing, employment and the availability of support from friends and family

Other tests, such as urine or blood tests, may be used to supplement the comprehensive assessment. 

The information contained on this site is designed to support, not to replace, the relationship between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician.


  • CASAColumbia. (2012). Addiction medicine: Closing the gap between science and practice.

Addiction Symptoms Infographic

Only about 1 in 10 people who need treatment for a drug or alcohol problem receive it.

Addiction Treatment


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