A Substance Use Disorder is a diagnostic and legal term to define someone’s need for treatment due to the action of someone abusing drugs, whereas addiction can result from drug abuse. It is important to remember that not everyone who abuses substances develops an addiction.

What Is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is when someone overuses a substance or uses a substance outside of its intended purposes. Some individuals seek to relieve pain and find that excess amounts of medication can numb feelings of anxiety or depression. For example, substance abuse can be when you take a prescribed painkiller more often than directed or in higher doses. You may be missing out on important obligations, becoming irritable and moody, denying the severity of the consequences, and isolating yourself from family and friends due to your substance abuse. It is possible to abuse drugs without becoming long-term chemically or psychologically dependent, but that does not mean that abusing drugs is good for your body or life.

Defining Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease that is hard to control. Abuse of certain chemicals like alcohol or prescription drugs can change the chemistry of your brain, which leads to addiction. No matter what the negative consequences of alcohol or drugs are, your mind tells you that you cannot stop, you are just having fun, or you need it. Addiction comes with physical symptoms like a tolerance when you keep using, withdrawal symptoms when you stop, appetite and appearance changes, and stealing or repeatedly borrowing money. There are also psychological symptoms like constantly thinking about the drug, irritability, agitation, and changes in motivation. Addiction can also lead to strained relationships and being unable to complete specific tasks.

Key Differences Between Substance Abuse and Addiction

What makes addiction stand out is that it leads to compulsive behaviors and is hard to stop despite the negative consequences. Someone with a substance abuse problem will find that it is easy to stop drinking or using the substance they are abusing. Even though substance abuse has not turned into full-blown addiction yet, it is crucial to notice the warning signs. The challenges with substance abuse are much easier to overcome before a dependence is developed.

A significant key difference between substance abuse and addiction is wanting to and being able to stop drinking or using. The symptoms of addiction can look different for everyone, so professional guidance will help a person understand what they are experiencing.

Substance abuse is when you use drugs for unintended purposes. Addiction is a brain disease that makes it hard to stop abusing drugs. Knowing the signs of addiction will help you discover whether or not you have a problem and if it requires treatment. At Alta Loma, we understand how confusing it is to determine if you have a problem with drugs. Fortunately, our facilities in Georgetown, Texas, will provide you a map towards a successful recovery. We can provide you with access to 12-Step programs, individualized therapy, life and coping skills education, and more. Please call (866) 457-3843 for more information.