What is the Difference Between Drug Abuse and Addiction?

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Last Updated on April 2, 2021 by Atif

Is there a distinction between drug abuse and drug addiction, and are the two linked? It’s a popular question, and knowing if someone you know crosses the line from drug abuse to full-fledged addiction isn’t always easy.

The distinction is in the number of medical criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), given by the American Psychiatric Association and used by both doctors and the courts.

As it boils down to it, though, the effects of chronic Drug Abuse and addiction can be detrimental to any area of a person’s life, regardless of the details. If regulation of such use is complex on its own, therapy can help. 

Drug Abuse

Severe drug abuse is often thought to be less severe than drug addiction, but the truth is that long-term use of controlled drugs can be just as harmful to a person’s health. As a result, medical services are available to those suffering from either problem. Experiencing several of the following problems in the previous year suggests substance abuse:

The Damage Done by Drug Abuse

However, this isn’t to suggest that drug abuse isn’t harmful. Individuals who use drugs or alcohol inadvertently can suffer negative consequences. Overdosing is still possible, as is getting communicable diseases like hepatitis B or C or HIV/AIDS.

Those that are not addicted to drugs have greater control over their intake. If these people want to avoid using drugs or alcohol, they will generally do so without undergoing lengthy treatment. There’s always a risk that frequent use will turn into Drug Abuse, and addiction can increase in many situations.

According to the National Institute on Substance Addiction and Alcoholism, 40% of people who start drinking before the age of 15 will become addicted to alcohol.

Drug Abuse Effects

Some people claim that experimenting as an adolescent is a natural part of growing up. That Drug Abuse is not as harmful as addiction; however, it may have negative implications even if it does not advance to that extent. Since the body is still experiencing significant biological changes, this is particularly true for teenagers and young adults. The use of mind-altering and mood-altering drugs during this period can have various adverse effects on a person’s development.

Various medications have various effects depending on several factors. The drug’s efficacy, frequency of Drug Abuse, and whether it’s combined with other medications can cause harmful side effects that put a person at risk.

A person’s thoughts, attitude, energy, and view of the world around them are influenced by substance addiction. When this is combined with reduced motor control, impaired judgment, and poor decision-making, a person may find themselves in a dangerous situation. Drug Abuse can also lower inhibitions, encouraging a person to participate in activities or behaviors that they would not otherwise. Drug Abuse puts a person at risk for infectious diseases and several other health issues. Even light drug use can put a person at risk of overdosing.

Drug Addiction

You meet the requirements for Drug Abuse diagnosis if you have three or more of the following problems in 12 months:

  • When medication choice is not available, withdrawal symptoms (both physically and mentally) begin. 
  • Increasing the dosage of the medication of choice to produce the same results as before
  • Old hobbies and interests, as well as career/school pursuits, have lost their appeal.
  • I’m removing myself from my friends and family.
  • Patterns of conduct focused solely on obtaining or maintaining a high
  • Multiple efforts to reduce or discourage Drug Abuse have failed.
  • Even though there are still increasing issues associated with drug and alcohol use, people continue to use them.

Addiction and its Effects

Drug abuse exposes people to the same dangers as those who use drugs infrequently, but it also exposes them to a slew of mental and physical health issues. People who misuse drugs regularly are more likely to have mental health problems. Long-term use can result in several mental health problems ranging from mild to extreme. The following are among the most common conditions that occur as a consequence of addiction:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Lengthy Drug Abuse may also affect an individual’s health in irreversible ways. Drug Abuse can harm vital organs and cause various physical illnesses and issues. Substance abuse also does the most harm to the kidneys, liver, heart, and lungs. It is not unusual for people who are addicted to grow or experience:

  • Collapsed veins
  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory problems
  • Liver failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS (from sharing needles)
  • Hepatitis B and C (from sharing needles)

Furthermore, those who suffer from addiction develop tolerances, requiring them to use more significant drugs to produce the same results. This can hasten the effects of drugs and alcohol and raise the risk of overdosing.

Recognizing Addiction Medically  

There may be a feeling of guilt or stigma related to Drug Abuse for those dealing with it. This stigma can harm the healing process. Addiction, like any disease, should be handled as something that is above your power, and you should find care to help you heal. Health practitioners use the DSM-IV, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to identify and treat diseases like addiction. The medical world describes addiction as satisfying three (or more) of the DSM IV requirements throughout 12 months.

  • There is tolerance, which is described as needing more to achieve the desired effect or needing less to achieve the same effect with the same quantity.
  • There is withdrawal, described as experiencing withdrawal symptoms while not using or using to prevent these withdrawal symptoms.
  • The drug is ingested in larger quantities or more extended than the consumer expected.
  • The consumer attempts unsuccessfully to reduce the amount of time spent on the computer.
  • The patient pays a considerable amount of time seeking to procure the drug, use it, or recover from its effects.
  • Due to various use, social events, jobs, and leisure activities are decreased or removed.
  • Despite understanding that the drug has harmful physical and psychological effects, people continue to use it.

It’s crucial to distinguish between Drug Abuse and addiction to get the help you or a loved one needs. Drug Abuseand addiction are not moral defects but instead a diagnosable disease that can be managed efficiently to lead to a healthier, drug-free existence. If you believe you are suffering from substance abuse or addiction and are searching for a way out, therapy will help you get on the path to recovery.

Drug Abuse versus Addiction

The words “drug misuse” and “drug addiction” are used interchangeably. You can consume a substance without being addicted to it, but drug abuse regularly is more likely to lead to addiction.

It all boils down to the rate of substance use vs. Drug Abuse vs. addiction. Studies believe how often and how often a single drug is taken to distinguish. It also depends on the seriousness of the issues that drugs have caused in your life, as well as how they have affected you socially, professionally, psychologically, and physically.

Although Drug Abuse and drug addiction are distinct, they are often used synonymously. It can be challenging to tell when substance abuse has crossed the line into addiction.

These two terms could be phased out in the immediate future. Many mental health and recovery practitioners no longer distinguish between violence and addiction. Instead, they categorize addiction into various degrees of seriousness, dictated by a person’s drug relationship. Drug Abuse differs from drug addiction in that drug addiction is characterized by a strong desire to consume a substance regardless of the consequences.

Addiction is often followed by a loss of control and the failure to acknowledge individual accountability. Abuse of some drugs or alcohol regularly can cause addiction. This form of violence can be significantly reduced, and addiction successfully staved with good opioid treatment.

The most commonly abused addictive drug is alcohol. Unlike other medications, it affects so many different parts of the brain. Alcohol is often used as a “pick-me-up,” but it is, in reality, a depressant. Alcoholism also necessitates detox and specialist alcohol treatment due to its “dirty” reputation.

Since 1956, the American Medical Association has accepted alcoholism as a disorder. Chronic substance abuse is classified as an illness/condition by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The first step in minimizing this dreaded disorder should be the early identification of substance abuse, which is the precursor to addiction.

The Connection Between Drug Abuse and Addiction 

Addiction does not come out of anywhere. It takes time to grow a resistance to the drug of preference, grows drug cravings, and encounter problems resulting from drug use. Drug abuse is often the first step. While it may appear to be an addiction in its worst form, one distinguishing feature separates substance dependency from addiction.

The inability to avoid using drugs is the first symptom. Anyone who battles with Drug Abuse may face various issues common to addicts. Still, they may prevent using all illicit drugs without difficulty for long periods. Despite a deep desire to avoid using, an addict cannot stay away from their drug of choice and other drugs.

Addiction may develop as a result of continued Drug Abuse or alcohol abuse. Regular use builds up a tolerance, leading to withdrawal effects when the medication is taken away. Similarly, chronic drug use, particularly for a particular reason like relaxing, dealing with frustration, or managing other emotions or problematic mental health symptoms, can assume that using the drug is required to work, resulting in psychological dependency. Find out more about the various treatment options to help cope with Drug Abuse or addiction. Make a phone call.