Are substance use and addiction the same thing? If not, what is the difference between abuse and addiction? Are they connected? If you have a loved one who you believe may be misusing a substance, you may be wondering if they are suffering from an addiction.
No matter the specifics of you or your loved one’s drug use, it can have devastating consequences. Fortunately, there are treatment options available for substance use disorder and addiction. A life of sobriety is possible.
What Is Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse refers to repetitive harmful use of a substance, such as alcohol or drugs. Abused substances may be banned substances, legal prescription drugs or even substances that are not classified as drugs.
So what defines the abuse of a substance? Substance use disorder occurs when you repeatedly take more than the recommended or prescribed dosage of a drug or when you repeatedly do not use the substance as recommended. You may face significant impairment from this kind of drug use, such as:
- Loss of the ability to control yourself
- Interpersonal and relationship issues
- Neglect of responsibilities and obligations
What Is Substance Addiction?
Despite the popular belief that addiction is a moral failing, addiction is actually a chronic disease. Overcoming this disorder typically requires participation in a medical addiction treatment program. Addiction can cause health and money problems, along with destroying interpersonal relationships.
Despite all the negative consequences of addiction, this disease can be difficult to overcome, especially without help. Addiction alters your brain chemistry, as your brain acclimates to the excess dopamine that is caused by the substance use. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
Some people are more predisposed to addiction. Genetics accounts for a significant percentage of a person’s susceptibility to addiction.
The Difference Between Drug Use and Addiction
What is the difference between drug use and drug addiction? Substance use is not the same thing as addiction. While a person who is using a substance casually may be able to choose to stop, the first sign of addiction is an inability to do so. Even if an addict wants to stop using the drug, they are often unable to.
Regular use of a substance leads to tolerance, which can then cause withdrawal symptoms when the individual goes a period of time without using the substance. On top of physical dependence, addiction is also marked by psychological dependence, as an addict uses the substance to manage emotions and relax. The individual grows to believe using the substance is necessary to function.
Does Substance Abuse Lead to Addiction?
A person does not acquire an addiction overnight. Tolerance to a drug builds up over time, cravings for the drug of choice develop and problems arise in every aspect of a person’s life. Addiction often starts as casual substance use. If you think you or a loved one might be heading down that road, Gateway Foundation can help. Contact us today to learn about treatment options.