The Difference Between Substance Abuse and Addiction

The Difference Between Substance Abuse and Addiction

A common misconception is that substance abuse and addiction are the same things. While they may present similar behaviors, they have fundamental differences. Below we will discuss the contrast and similarities between these two relationships with substances.

What Is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is the act of abusing or misusing a substance. This does not mean an inherent addiction problem, leaving the person returning for more regardless of the consequences. An example would be if you were prescribed medication and used it more frequently or at a higher dose than the doctor prescribed.

Substance abuse has been a significant public health concern. This is due to substance abuse leading to addiction, dependency, and substance use disorders (SUDs). While it is said to be “easier” to deal with substance abuse than addiction, there is still a lot to learn from it and how to help those struggling better.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction can also be known as substance use disorder. It is defined as a chronic disease that a person cannot control, even in the presence of negative consequences. This means that even when things go wrong while you are under the effect of substances, you are still compelled to use them.

This is because when you have an addiction problem, the brain is rewired to crave more of the substance. As a result, you may put yourself in problematic situations to use substances. It is less of choice and more of a compulsion.

An addiction can also be similar to a dependency and, in some cases, cause one. This is when your body or mind has become dependent on the substance. For example, someone struggling with dependency cannot complete daily tasks without using a substance.

The Similarities Between Substance Abuse and Addiction

While these two relationships with substances are different in many ways, they share some similarities, which can be found in the symptoms.

The symptoms substance abuse and addiction share are:

  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Failing to fulfill obligations, such as school or work
  • Denying the severity of substance use problem
  • Isolation from friends and family

The Differences

One significant difference between these two problems is that substance abuse can be present without addiction, but addiction cannot be present without substance abuse. This means that substance abuse can lead to addiction but not the other way around. If someone has been abusing substances for an extended period, odds are they have an addiction.

An excellent example is someone getting pulled over for drunk driving; driving under the influence is incredibly dangerous. Doing this reckless action would be a clear indicator of either substance abuse or addiction.

Let’s say the person driving while intoxicated gets pulled over and arrested. Someone with substance use disorder will notice how problematic their substance use has become and take steps to correct them, making them less likely to fall into that situation again.

While if someone with an addiction problem is pulled over and arrested, very little will change in their behavior. They will continue to drink the same, if not more. Some may try to quit drinking but find that their compulsion leads them back to it.

Treatment Options

There are many different treatment options for these two types of behaviors. While they may be different in some regards, treatment options are virtually the same. The two main treatment options include going to a treatment center or psychotherapy with a professional. Both are effective ways of treating substance disorders.

Some treatment options include behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). At Healing Pines Recovery, we not only offer both of these treatment options, but we provide other holistic treatment programs as well. By combining treatments and using both holistic and traditional methods, you are healing your body and your mind.

Trying to determine whether you are struggling with substance abuse or an addiction can be difficult. With both being so similar, it can be hard to differentiate the warning signs. However, if you are considering that it may be a possibility, it is always best to seek treatment. Healing Pines Recovery believes in treating each individual as a whole. We have a team of professionals to help you through recovery and help you determine what you may be struggling with.

Substance abuse or addiction can be difficult to face. There are a lot of challenges that occur when entering into a recovery program. Luckily, there are places like Healing Pines Recovery where you can go to get the help you need.

A common mistake is thinking that substance abuse and addiction are the same. The most significant difference between the two terms is that addiction is a disease while substance abuse is not. Substance abuse is the abuse or misuse of drugs, alcohol, or other substances that can be “easier” to discontinue.

Addiction is the inability to control the use of substances. Those who abuse substances are not always addicted. However, it can develop into an addiction or dependency.

If you or someone you love identifies as male and are concerned about substance abuse or potential addiction, reach out to Healing Pines Recovery at (720) 575-2621 for treatment options and resources. 

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