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Drug Abuse Definition: The Difference between Abuse and Addiction

Whether it’s brown-bagging liquor at work, or popping pills at a party, drug addiction and abuse can be hard to differentiate in today’s society. It can feel like all the people around us are using, whether it be a grandparent taking their medication more than prescribed, siblings going out for a few drinks at the bar, or even publicly-known idols speaking out about drugs they currently or previously have used. So how can we tell if this is a casual use for entertainment or a potential life-threatening regular mistreatment of drugs? Understanding what the difference is between the drug abuse definition and the drug addiction definition will help clarify.

What is the drug abuse definition?

The drug abuse definition can best be described as when a person chooses to abuse a drug more than once, but has the ability to put it down. They may suffer some consequences as a result of their abuse, but there is no allergy where they mentally and/or physically crave it. Using drugs does not become a habit for this person, and there are typically no frequent thoughts about taking the drug over and over again. Some people are just like this; they can use just one time or maybe once in a while and never have the thought cross their mind again. Others, however, have an obsession, making them compelled to use beyond their control. This mental obsession and physical craving is known as the disease of addiction.

What is drug addiction?

When a person is addicted to drugs, the desire to use becomes so overwhelming and prevalent in their life that they lose track of their priorities. They no longer care about their financial obligations, personal relationships, or jobs. Unlike the drug abuse definition, the most important thing to the drug addict is getting their next fix. These negative effects of their drug use are signs of unmanageability.

A good example of drug addiction could begin with a freshman in college who was offered a full-paid scholarship as long as they could keep up a certain GPA but fail to do so since they stopped going to class because they were preoccupied with getting high. The student may not consider this because their focus was solely on getting and taking their drug on a regular, unstoppable basis. They were not able to take into account that they would decline in their education, lose their scholarship, and end up owing the school money for the classes they did not even attend. When a person is in active addiction like this, they are not able to see the consequences of their actions, and then it may get to a point where when they do see the damage they have caused, they simply can’t fix it because the craving to use is stronger.

Not sure if you fall under the guidelines of the drug abuse definition or addiction? A person who suffers from drug addiction may not be able to stop using on their own because they are experiencing what is known as a mental withdrawal, where they feel anxious, distraught, and miserable without the substance. An addict can also grow physically ill as a result of not using. This is another form of withdrawal that proves they are physically dependent. Being physically addicted to a drug can be very dangerous because the addict’s body has become so accustomed to having it in their system that when they abruptly stop using, they experience nausea, body aches, sleep disturbances, and trouble breathing. These kinds of symptoms can make it more difficult for a person to stop taking the drug since they don’t want to feel ill.

It can get tricky when questioning the difference between the drug addiction definition and the drug abuse definition, but there is a difference. Addiction is a deadly disease that needs to be taken seriously because the person does not have the ability to put the drug down of their own will. If someone wants to stop using and has found it difficult to do, they should seek help immediately because addiction will not go away on its own; it is a disease that requires treatment.

Would you like to know more about the drug abuse definition? Click here: Definition Of Tolerance




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