The Difference Between Substance Abuse and Addiction

The Difference Between Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are often mistaken as the same thing, but the two are very different. Both can have negative effects on your health, work, relationships and well-being, however, understanding the difference can help you determine whether you need treatment and where to look.

Defining Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse refers to drinking or using drugs on occasion, even when there are negative side effects. Substance abuse often leads to a feeling of pleasure or a high, but the individual doesn’t rely on the substance on a daily basis. An individual may abuse drugs or alcohol to deal with stress or may use socially, such as when they are out with friends at a party or drinking too much on the weekends.

While these behaviors aren’t addictive in nature, they can still be harmful to your health and cause heart disease, high blood pressure, organ damage and even lead to overdose. Over time, they also lead to addiction.

Warning Signs of Substance Abuse

The early warning signs of drug and alcohol abuse vary depending on the substance, but there are a few things you can look out for if you suspect your loved one is struggling with abusive behaviors.

  • Overusing alcohol or drugs to cope
  • Red-faced appearance
  • Bloodshot eyes or enlarged pupils
  • Lack of coordination
  • Poor hygiene
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Shakiness or trembling accompanied by slurred speech

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

drug or alcohol addiction occurs when an individual is unable to stop using. Addiction causes chemical changes in the brain that can make it difficult to quit. Just like drug and alcohol abuse, addiction can cause a wide range of health problems, including heart disease, liver failure and even death.

Oftentimes, a drug addiction can start by taking prescription medications as prescribed and then misusing them or taking more than prescribed. Over time it takes more and more of the medication to achieve the same results.

Warning Signs of Addiction

Some of the most common signs of an addiction include:

  • Lack of hygiene
  • Lack of interest in things that once caused pleasure
  • Problems at work or school
  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Inability to stop using or lying about using
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Problems in relationships

When to Seek Help

Treatment for substance abuse is easier to provide than treatment for addiction. An individual who abuses drugs or alcohol can choose between outpatient counseling, therapy and even group meetings. Addiction requires detox, and in many cases, inpatient care.

At Hickory Treatment Centers, we can help you receive the treatment you need. Whether you need help for yourself or a loved one, contact our caring counselors at (800) 604-2117 or fill out your name and number online and someone will get back with you as soon as possible. We can help you get started on the path to recovery today.

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If you have tried to stop using alcohol or drugs on your own, you may feel that sobriety and clean living seem far away. However, with the help of caring staff members and a safe, structured environment, you can receive the guidance you need to fight cravings and regain control of your life.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our admission staff or learn more about our healing programs.