A symptom is something the patient senses and describes, while a sign is something other people, such as the doctor notice. For example, sleepiness may be a symptom while dilated pupils may be a sign.
Substance dependence - when a person is addicted to a substance, such as a drug, alcohol or nicotine, they are not able to control the use of that substance. They continue taking it, even though it may cause harm (the individual may or may not be aware of the potential harm).
Substance dependence can cause powerful cravings. The addict may want to give up (quit), but finds it extremely difficult to do so without help.
The signs and symptoms of substance dependence vary according to the individual, the substance they are addicted to, their family history (genetics), and personal circumstances.
Signs and symptoms of substance addiction may include:
Some substance/alcohol abusers who are not technically addicted may also suffer from or cause some of the descriptions mentioned above, but they do not usually have the withdrawal symptoms of an addict or the same compulsion to consume the substance.
Disclaimer: This informational section on Medical News Today is regularly reviewed and updated, and provided for general information purposes only. The materials contained within this guide do not constitute medical or pharmaceutical advice, which should be sought from qualified medical and pharmaceutical advisers.
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