27 Idioms for Addiction: What They Mean


People often use idioms, which are phrases that don’t mean what they literally say, to talk about addiction.

In this article, we’ll explore some common idioms related to addiction, explain what they mean, and provide examples of how they can be used in sentences.

idioms for addiction

What is an idiom for addiction?

Idioms are expressions that have a figurative or non-literal meaning, and they can be a fun way to describe complex situations like addiction.

Here are some idioms related to addiction, along with their meanings and examples of how they can be used:


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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What is a simile?

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Identify the simile in the following sentence: “She swims like a fish.”

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Which of the following is a metaphor?

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What is an idiom?

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What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

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“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

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The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

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What does the idiom “hit the books” mean?

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IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
HookedAddicted or strongly attracted to somethingHe’s been hooked on video games for years.
On the wagonTo stop using drugs or alcohol and live soberAfter hitting rock bottom, she got on the wagon.
Cold turkeyQuitting something suddenly and completelyHe decided to quit smoking cold turkey.
Kick the habitBreaking free from a long-standing addictionHe managed to kick the habit of overeating.
Chasing the dragonPursuing an elusive and euphoric highHe started chasing the dragon but only worsened.
Going through withdrawalExperiencing symptoms after quitting a drugShe couldn’t work due to withdrawal symptoms.
Hitting rock bottomReaching the lowest point in addictionHe realized he had hit rock bottom and needed help.
Dope fiendDerogatory term for a drug addictHe used to be a dope fiend but is now in recovery.
JunkieSlang term for a drug addictThe neighborhood had a problem with junkies.
In the throes of addictionDeeply consumed by addictionShe was in the throes of addiction.
Riding the white horseBeing under the influence of heroinHe spent years riding the white horse.
Shooting upInjecting drugs with a syringeHe was caught shooting up in a restroom.
Strung outFeeling drained due to drug use or addictionAfter continuous drug use, he was completely strung out.
JonesingIntense cravings for a drugHe was jonesing for a fix and couldn’t focus.
Feeding the monkeyContinuing to use drugs or feed an addictionHe kept feeding the monkey despite the risks.
Chain smokingSmoking one cigarette after another in successionShe would start chain smoking when stressed.
Falling off the wagonRelapsing after a period of abstinenceSadly, he fell off the wagon and started using again.
High as a kiteUnder the influence, feeling euphoric or intoxicatedAfter taking medication, he felt high as a kite.
FiendingDesperately craving a drugHe was fiending for cocaine and couldn’t resist.
Craving a fixStrongly desiring a dose of drugs or fixDespite trying to quit, he craved a fix.
Going cleanDeciding to stop using drugs and seek sobrietyShe was determined to go clean and turn her life around.
Needle in the haystackExtremely difficult to find or locateFinding support in addiction recovery can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Cross-addictionDeveloping new addictions or substituting oneHe overcame alcohol addiction but developed cross-addiction.
Habit-formingCan lead to the development of a habitVideo games can be habit-forming if not played in moderation.
Drowning one’s sorrowsUsing substances to cope with emotional painHe resorted to drowning his sorrows in alcohol.
Lost in the sauceDeeply involved in addictive behaviorHe was lost in the sauce and unaware of the harm he caused.
MainliningInjecting drugs directly into a veinMainlining is associated with a high risk of overdose.

Addiction is like a heavy chain that binds the soul, pulling it deeper into a never-ending abyss of craving and dependency. For more comparisons to describe addiction, you can check this link: Similes for addiction. And for a variety of metaphors related to addiction, you can explore this link: Metaphors for addiction.

Idioms for Addiction

1. Hooked

Meaning: To be addicted or strongly attracted to something.

In a Sentence: “He’s been hooked on video games for years; he can’t go a day without playing.”

2. On the wagon

Meaning: To stop using drugs or alcohol and start living a clean and sober life.

In a Sentence: “After hitting rock bottom, she decided to get on the wagon and seek help for her addiction.”

3. Cold turkey

Meaning: To quit something suddenly and completely, often referring to quitting a substance without tapering off.

In a Sentence: “He decided to quit smoking cold turkey and threw away all his cigarettes.”

4. Kick the habit

Meaning: To break free from a long-standing addiction or bad habit.

In a Sentence: “It took a lot of effort, but he finally managed to kick the habit of overeating junk food.”

5. Chasing the dragon

Meaning: A term often associated with heroin use, it refers to the pursuit of an elusive and euphoric high.

In a Sentence: “He started chasing the dragon, thinking he could recreate that initial feeling, but it only led to more problems.”

6. Going through withdrawal

Meaning: Experiencing the physical and psychological symptoms that occur when someone stops using a drug they’re addicted to.

In a Sentence: “She couldn’t work for a week because she was going through withdrawal after quitting opioids.”

7. Hitting rock bottom

Meaning: Reaching the lowest point in one’s life or addiction, often used to describe a turning point for seeking help.

In a Sentence: “After losing his job and his family, he realized he had hit rock bottom and needed to make changes.”

8. Dope fiend

Meaning: A derogatory term for a person who is addicted to drugs, especially heroin.

In a Sentence: “He used to be a dope fiend, but now he’s in recovery and doing much better.”

9. Junkie

Meaning: A slang term for someone who is addicted to drugs, usually referring to a heroin or opioid addiction.

In a Sentence: “The neighborhood had a problem with junkies, and they needed more support services.”

10. In the throes of addiction

Meaning: To be deeply consumed by addiction, often struggling with its grip.

In a Sentence: “She was in the throes of addiction and couldn’t see a way out.”

11. Riding the white horse

Meaning: Another term related to heroin use, it refers to being under the influence of the drug.

In a Sentence: “He spent years riding the white horse before he decided to get clean.”

12. Shooting up

Meaning: The act of injecting drugs, typically with a syringe.

In a Sentence: “He was caught shooting up in a public restroom, and that’s when he knew he needed help.”

13. Strung out

Meaning: Feeling physically and emotionally drained due to drug use or addiction.

In a Sentence: “After weeks of continuous drug use, he was completely strung out and needed detox.”

14. Jonesing

Meaning: To experience intense cravings for a drug or substance.

In a Sentence: “He was jonesing for a fix so badly that he couldn’t focus on anything else.”

15. Feeding the monkey

Meaning: Continuing to use drugs or feed one’s addiction.

In a Sentence: “Despite knowing the dangers, he kept feeding the monkey, unable to break free.”

16. Chain smoking

Meaning: Smoking one cigarette after another in quick succession.

In a Sentence: “When she was stressed, she would start chain smoking to cope.”

17. Falling off the wagon

Meaning: Relapsing and returning to addictive behavior after a period of abstinence.

In a Sentence: “He had been clean for a year but sadly fell off the wagon and started using again.”

18. High as a kite

Meaning: To be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, feeling euphoric or intoxicated.

In a Sentence: “After taking that medication, he felt high as a kite and couldn’t function properly.”

19. Fiending

Meaning: Desperately craving a drug or fix.

In a Sentence: “He was fiending for cocaine and would do anything to get his hands on it.”

20. Craving a fix

Meaning: Strongly desiring a dose of drugs or any addictive substance.

In a Sentence: “Even though he was trying to quit, he couldn’t resist craving a fix.”

21. Going clean

Meaning: Deciding to stop using drugs or engaging in addictive behavior and seeking sobriety.

In a Sentence: “She was determined to go clean and turn her life around.”

22. Needle in the haystack

Meaning: Referring to something extremely difficult to find or locate.

In a Sentence: “Finding a reliable source of support in addiction recovery can be like searching for a needle in the haystack.”

23. Cross-addiction

Meaning: Developing new addictions or substituting one addiction for another.

In a Sentence: “He managed to overcome his alcohol addiction but developed a cross-addiction to gambling.”

24. Habit-forming

Meaning: Referring to something that can lead to the development of a habit, especially a bad one.

In a Sentence: “Video games can be habit-forming if not played in moderation.”

25. Drowning one’s sorrows

Meaning: Using alcohol or drugs to cope with emotional pain or distress.

In a Sentence: “Instead of seeking help, he resorted to drowning his sorrows in alcohol.”

26. Lost in the sauce

Meaning: Being so deeply involved in addictive behavior that one loses touch with reality.

In a Sentence: “He was completely lost in the sauce and didn’t realize how much harm he was causing.”

27. Mainlining

Meaning: Injecting drugs directly into a vein, typically associated with intravenous drug use.

In a Sentence: “Mainlining can be extremely dangerous and is associated with a high risk of overdose.”

Quizzes About The Idioms in The Article

Quiz 1:

  1. What does the idiom “Hooked” mean?
    a) To quit something suddenly
    b) To be addicted or strongly attracted to something
    c) To go through withdrawal

Quiz 2:

  1. When someone decides to stop using drugs or alcohol and live a sober life, they are said to be “__.”
    a) Going through withdrawal
    b) Chasing the dragon
    c) On the wagon

Quiz 3:

  1. What does it mean to quit something suddenly and completely, often referring to quitting a substance without tapering off?
    a) Chasing the dragon
    b) Going through withdrawal
    c) Cold turkey

Quiz 4:

  1. If someone manages to break free from a long-standing addiction, they have “__.”
    a) Kicked the habit
    b) Drowned their sorrows
    c) Ridden the white horse

Quiz 5:

  1. What does the idiom “Dope fiend” refer to?
    a) A person who is addicted to drugs, especially heroin
    b) Someone who has overcome addiction
    c) A medical professional

Quiz 6:

  1. To be deeply consumed by addiction and struggling with its grip is described as being “__.”
    a) Riding the white horse
    b) In the throes of addiction
    c) Falling off the wagon

Quiz 7:

  1. What does “Feeding the monkey” mean?
    a) Continuing to use drugs or feed one’s addiction
    b) Overcoming addiction
    c) Quitting a bad habit

Quiz 8:

  1. If someone is “Chain smoking,” what are they doing?
    a) Smoking one cigarette after another in quick succession
    b) Quitting smoking
    c) Starting a new habit

Quiz 9:

  1. What does “Cross-addiction” refer to?
    a) Developing new addictions or substituting one addiction for another
    b) Quitting addiction entirely
    c) A medical condition

Quiz 10:

  1. If someone is “Lost in the sauce,” what does it mean?
    a) They are enjoying a delicious meal
    b) They are deeply involved in addictive behavior and unaware of the harm they cause
    c) They are very organized

Conclusion

Addiction is a challenging issue that affects individuals and their loved ones in many ways. These idioms provide insight into the struggles and experiences of those dealing with addiction.

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