Addiction & Behavior Changes

By November 5, 2021 January 4th, 2022 No Comments
Addiction and Behavior Cover Image

In previous posts, we’ve seen how addiction affects both one’s health, as well as one’s finances. However, there is another element in life that is significantly impacted by substance use disorders, your behavior and mental processes.

Drug and alcohol addiction can negatively impact behavior in many ways. It can cause a person to lose control of his/her emotions and actions. This is because drugs and alcohol affect the brain and alter its functioning.

Here’s a look at how addiction can affect one’s behavior.

How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Starts

Addiction is a complex issue with many causes and consequences. There are many factors that contribute to the development of addiction. These include genetics, environment, family history, trauma, mental illness, and chemical imbalances in the brain.

In fact, It is hypothesized that up to 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to addiction can be attributed to a genetic factor.1

Everyone’s reason for initially using substances can be completely different. Some may start using in a social setting (often by being introduced to it by a friend or peer), or to self-medicate for underlying mental health issues. Some individuals may have been exposed to psychoactive substance abuse at young age, and others may have easy access to drugs or alcohol.

However, while people may have differing reasons for beginning using drugs or alcohol, the development of substance use disorders always follows the same pattern.

Woman realizing Addiction is eroding her emotional Health

When Addiction Erodes Your Emotional Health

When someone initially engages in addictive behavior, they may be able to successfully hide the effects, even from friends and family. However, as time progresses, substance use disorders will begin to take their toll. People likely begin to experience more negative changes in moods, sleep patterns, appetite, energy levels, work performance, relationships, and more.

These symptoms become more and more pronounced as they reach a more advanced stage of dependency.

One of the most noticeable behavioral changes associated with addiction is the loss of emotional stability.

People who struggle with addiction are at greater risk of feeling depressed, anxious, angry, irritable, sad, guilty, ashamed, hopeless, lonely, jealous, paranoid, and more often confused.2

While some of these feelings are normal during times of stress, prolonged exposure due to substance use disorders can have a longer-lasting toll on mental health.

When The Negative Consequences Manifest In Everyday Life

As addiction progresses to later stages, the more apparent aspects of addiction start to surface more and more. For example:

People with substance use disorders often find themselves unable to maintain employment. They may also fail to meet deadlines at school or work, miss appointments, neglect responsibilities, and generally act erratically.

As drug and alcohol dependence becomes severe, there is an increased risk of injury or accident. Individuals may drive under the influence of drugs or drink excessively, which increases the likelihood of getting into car accidents.

When addicted to certain types of drugs like opioids, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc., those affected may engage in criminal activity to support their habit.

Those suffering from opioid addictions may develop tolerance to pain medication, leading them to seek out stronger doses of narcotics. This can increase the risks of overdose and accidental poisoning.

If you’re struggling with alcoholism, you could end up having blackouts where you don’t remember what happened before or after drinking. You might not know why you drank so much, but you’ll probably just assume it was something else entirely.

If you suspect that you or someone close to you has developed an addiction problem, seek help immediately. It’s important to get help if you think you or someone around you is experiencing any signs of addiction, especially in its later stages.

Woman getting treatment for Addictive Behavior

Schick Shadel’s Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Addiction is a disease that affects millions of Americans each year. It is a chronic condition that requires drastic treatment. At Schick Shadel Hospital, we provide comprehensive care for those struggling with addiction. Our highly trained professionals work together to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care.

We understand that addiction is a complex issue and that it often involves multiple factors. That is why we offer a wide range of services including detoxification, aversion therapy, counseling, relapse prevention, and much more.

Schick Shadel Hospital is committed to providing the highest level of care for those who struggle with addiction. Call us today at 1(800)CRAVING or contact us for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Drug Addiction a Mental Illness?

Yes, drug addiction (Substance Use Disorders) is classified as a mental illness. The brain has receptors for drugs, and when these receptors are activated, they cause the person to crave the drug. This craving causes the person to want to use the drug again. If the person doesn’t receive the drug, he/she feels depressed and anxious. When the person receives the drug, they feel euphoric and relaxed.

What if Substance Abuse Is a Part of a Co-Occurring Disorder?

If substance abuse is part of a co-occurring disorder, then treatment for both disorders should be provided at the same time. This means that the person who has a substance use disorder needs to receive treatment for his/her addiction, while also receiving treatment for any other mental health issues that may be present. The goal of treatment is to help the individual recover from the effects of the substance abuse, and to treat any underlying mental health conditions.

What Causes Addictive Behavior?

Addiction is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. The main symptoms include tolerance, withdrawal, cravings, and relapse. There are three types of addiction: substance abuse, behavioral addictions, and compulsive behaviors. Substance abuse includes alcohol, drugs, and gambling. Behavioral addictions include shopping, sex, work, exercise, and eating disorders. Compulsive behaviors include OCD, hoarding, and kleptomania.

Does drug use cause other mental disorders, or vice versa?

Drug use causes other mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. However, mental disorders also cause drug use. For example, people who suffer from depression often turn to drugs to feel better.

What are the other health consequences of drug addiction?

Drug addiction has many negative effects on the body, such as liver damage, heart disease, and brain damage. The most common side effects of drug abuse is depression. Other symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts.

Man contemplating what to do if someone is addicted

What To Do If Someone Is Displaying Addictive Behavior

There are several things you should do if you suspect that someone close to you has developed a problem with drugs or alcohol. Here are just a few tips to consider:

• Don’t judge – Instead, try to understand why he or she might need support. Many addicts suffer from depression, anxiety, low self esteem, loneliness, financial difficulties, relationship problems, and more.

• Be supportive – Try not to make assumptions about what caused them to develop a substance use disorder. Listen without judgment, and offer encouragement when appropriate.

• Get professional help – It’s important to know how to recognize signs of abuse before it becomes too late. Call us today at 1(800)CRAVING or contact us to get started.

Read More in This Blog Series:


  1. Edenberg HJ, Foroud T. Genetics and alcoholismNat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;10(8):487-94. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2013.86
  2. Goldstein, R. Z., & Volkow, N. D. (2011). Dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex in addiction: neuroimaging findings and clinical implications. Nature reviews. Neuroscience12(11), 652–669.
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