Technically, there is a difference between drug abuse and drug addiction. That distinction may not sound particularly useful. But, if you or a loved one are dealing with the misuse of prescription medications or the abuse of alcohol or drugs, the differences between these definitions can make an impact on effective care.
Substance abuse is the misuse of substance. It can come in many forms, and may include:
While abuse of an illegal substance may be obvious, as you can see from the list above, even legal substances can be abused.
Abuse can be one-time use and quickly dropped or can become something more serious. It can be a sign of a relapse or a moment of weakness. Distinguishing the difference lies in the definition of drug addiction.
Some addicts report “feeling addicted at first use,” and the reasons for that are not entirely understood. There could be both biological and psychological factors. That’s because addiction is a complex disease. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations.”
For most individuals with substance use disorders, drug addiction develops over time. Unfortunately, that can also lead to denial about the addiction.
To better understand the definition of drug addiction, look for any of these characteristics:
Some of the first signs of addiction might be cravings, an inability to stop, or an unwillingness to discuss/denial of the problem.
Since drug addiction may develop over a period, even those friends and family closest to the individual may fail to recognize the onset of a substance use disorder. Consulting a list such as that above and speaking to a professional may help you distinguish the extent of the situation. Start the conversation at home, and then gather the courage to reach out for help.
We know what addiction looks like and can help you spot it.
If you or a loved one are abusing drugs or experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, reach out for a confidential assessment. Like other chronic diseases, drug abuse and drug addiction can be successfully treated. It may take professional assistance and coordinated effort, but it can be done.
We will help you break the cycle of addiction and get back your life or the life of your loved one.