Substance Abuse vs Addiction: What Are the Differences?

substance abuse vs addiction

Substance abuse and addiction have much more in common. In fact, they share many of the same characteristics. What’s more, you can tell when a friend is using drugs based on your gut instinct alone.

But how can you tell the difference between abuse and addiction? It’s almost as difficult to spot the difference as it is to get your friend to reduce their drug intake.

Keep reading to find out more and to know if there is a real difference between substance abuse vs addiction. 

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is often defined as using a substance recklessly or in excess, without regard for the negative consequences. This can include using alcohol or drugs in a risky or dangerous manner such as driving while intoxicated.

It can also include using a substance in a way that is not intended such as taking prescription medication for non-medical reasons. 

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is defined as a chronic relapsing disorder. It’s characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

People with addiction often feel unable to control their drug use. They experience intense cravings for the drug, and they may go to great lengths to obtain it.

Substance Abuse vs Addiction: Their Differences

The terms “substance abuse” and “addiction” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Substance abuse is when someone uses drugs or alcohol excessively, to the point where it interferes with their everyday life. People who abuse substances may be able to stop using them without difficulty.

Addiction is when someone is physically and psychologically dependent on a substance. People who are addicted to a substance will often continue to use it even if it’s causing them financial, personal, or health problems.

They may use it to cope with anxiety or stress. They will often continue to use it despite the negative consequences. Those who are addicted will experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they attempt to quit. 

The Treatment 

The treatment for substance abuse and addiction is different. The treatment for abuse focuses on the person stopping the use of the substance it often involves education and therapy.

Addiction requires a more intense approach. This includes detoxification, medication, and behavior modification.

It’s important to note that addiction is a serious disease that requires professional help to overcome. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, you can help them find the best outpatient addiction programs here.

Understanding Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance abuse vs addiction are not the same thing. Substance abuse is when you use a substance without a doctor’s prescription or advice, or in a way that is harmful to your body. Addiction is when you can’t stop using a substance even when it’s causing harm to your body.

If you think you might be addicted to a substance, talk to a doctor.

Want to learn more about mental health? Check out our other articles on mental health issues now!