Signs it's time to seek help for addiction

Addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or background. While it often starts as a seemingly harmless activity or a way to cope with life’s “stuff”, addiction can quickly escalate, leading to severe consequences for your health, relationships, and well-being.


Recognising the signs that it's time to seek help for addiction is crucial in preventing further harm and starting the journey towards recovery. Here are some key indicators that you may benefit from professional help.

Signs you need help for addiction

Changes in behaviour and mood

Addiction can drastically alter your behaviour and mood. You may feel a need to keep secrets, feel irritable, or be aggressive. A loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed may cause you to withdraw from social interactions and isolate yourself from friends and family. Mood swings, anxiety, depression, and paranoia are also common. These changes are distressing for you and your loved ones. 

Neglecting responsibilities

Your responsibilities at home, work, or school may seem insurmountable or simply unimportant, so you stop attending to them. This neglect can lead to trouble at school or work, strained relationships and financial difficulties. You might frequently miss deadlines, skip important events, or show up late.

The inability to fulfil responsibilities despite knowing the negative consequences is a significant red flag that the behaviour is beyond your control, and you will benefit from asking for help.

Financial problems

Addiction often leads to significant financial issues. The cost of maintaining an addiction, whether it be to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other substances and behaviours, can be substantial. You may spend excessive amounts of money on your addiction, leading to debt, inability to pay bills or even legal problems. You might also resort to stealing or borrowing money frequently, without a plan to repay.

Persistent financial struggles and reckless spending suggest the problem is addiction, rather than a habit or hobby.

Increased tolerance and dependence

It is normal to develop tolerance to toxic substances or behaviours, meaning you require increasingly larger amounts to achieve the same effect. This increased tolerance is a dangerous sign, as it often leads to higher consumption levels and a greater risk of overdose or severe health problems. Alongside tolerance, if you feel you cannot function normally without the substance or activity, you’ve probably developed dependence.

Physical dependence can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking, sweating, nausea, and severe anxiety when the substance is not available. The combination of tolerance and dependence is a strong indicator that professional support will help you help yourself.

Failed attempts to quit

Many people with addiction recognise their problem and make several attempts to quit on their own. However, addiction is a powerful force, and these attempts often end with relapse. Repeated failed attempts to quit or reduce usage, despite a strong desire to do so, indicate that the addiction has a significant hold on you. This cycle of quitting and relapsing is demoralising and makes everything even harder.

At this point, reaching out to someone who will help you hold yourself accountable is beneficial. Or switch up the support you have already to try something different.

Impact on relationships

Addiction can severely impact relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Trust issues, frequent arguments, emotional distance, and even physical altercations can become commonplace. You probably notice your loved ones feel hurt, betrayed, or exhausted from trying to support you. The strain on relationships can lead to a loss of social support, which is vital for recovery.

If you feel guilty about the effect of your behaviour on others, an external person or group with no emotional involvement will help you have compassion for yourself and recover from the addiction. 

Physical health deterioration

One of the most apparent signs that addiction is taking a toll is a noticeable decline in physical health. This can manifest in various ways, depending on the substance or behaviour involved. Common symptoms include chronic fatigue, weight loss or gain, frequent illnesses, and unexplained injuries. For instance, alcohol addiction can lead to liver damage, heart problems, and gastrointestinal issues, while drug addiction could cause respiratory problems, cardiovascular issues, and neurological damage.

Behavioural addictions, like gambling or gaming, can also cause physical symptoms, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or eye strain. You may not notice the decline in your health. Or you may ignore them and write them off as something else. 

Health deterioration is a clear indication that you’re not looking after yourself in one way or another. Focus on self-care – give yourself a sleep opportunity of 7 – 9 hours per night, ensure you fuel your body with plenty of nutrition each day, and include some form of exercise into your daily routine. 

Getting help

Recognising the signs that it is time to seek help for addiction is the first step towards recovery. Seeking professional help through therapy, rehabilitation programs, and support groups can provide tools and support for overcoming addiction and reclaiming a healthier, more fulfilling life. If you or someone you know is exhibiting these signs, do not hesitate to ask for help — recovery is possible.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Farnham, Surrey, GU9
Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham, Surrey, GU9

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology.

Juliet works online and face-to-face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

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