Many patients who have substance abuse or gambling addictions share many of the same behavioral signs and symptoms. For instance, they may lie about their behaviors, deny they have problems, or use drugs or gamble in secret.
Substance abuse: Individuals who are addicted to drugs typically experience compulsive drug cravings. In serious cases, these cravings may cause individuals to continue to seek drugs, even if means risking their jobs, families, or other important parts of their lives. Specific symptoms of drug addiction depend on the substances that are being abused. Most substances cause a change in the patient's consciousness, usually a decrease in responsiveness. Other signs and symptoms may include the inability to relax while sober, mood swings and change in attitude, saying things that do not make sense, and sudden changes in performance at school or work. Individuals may spend less time with friends and family members and/or stop participating in activities that they used to enjoy.
When individuals stop using drugs they are addicted to, withdrawal symptom often develop. In general, symptoms of withdrawal may include irritability, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and mood swings. The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies, depending on the specific drug. For instance, individuals who are psychologically addicted to marijuana may experience symptoms of irritability, anxiety, and decreased appetite when they stop using the drug. In contrast, individuals who abuse methamphetamines experience much more severe withdrawal symptoms that may even be life threatening. Examples of these symptoms include intense cravings for the drug, psychotic reactions, anxiety, moderate to severe depression, intense hunger, irritability, fatigue, mental confusion, and insomnia.
Gambling addiction: Signs and symptoms of a gambling problem typically include a preoccupation with gambling, taking time away from work or loved ones to gamble, hiding gambling behaviors from friends and loved ones, feeling guilty or remorseful after gambling, borrowing or stealing money to use for gambling, and failed attempts to limit or stop gambling behaviors.
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