What is the Difference Between Drug Addiction and Drug Abuse?



The many terms used to describe substance abuse disorders and addiction can be confusing for many people. Terms such as drug abuse and addiction are commonly used interchangeably. As much as the aim is to communicate a specific message about substance use and its effects, there are noticeable differences that you should know. Certain variables differentiate drug addiction from drug abuse that you should seek to know and understand. 

Drug Abuse

When describing a milder form of harmful drug use, the best term to use is drug abuse. With drug abuse, there is always an association with the impacts and effects that come along. The best definition of drug abuse is the long-term use of controlled drugs that can harm a person’s health and affect their family and the community. 

Experiences that Suggest Drug Abuse

  • Constant legal issues caused by substance use
  • Physical damage or infliction of pain or discomfort to anyone else by a person under the influence of unspecified drugs or substances
  • Failure to meet requirements and executing tasks at home, workplace, or school by a person who is usually capable
  • Continued use of drugs, even with the understanding of its effects and impacts on the people around you. 

Effects of Drug Abuse

As much as people argue the effects of drug abuse are not as harmful as addiction, there are still several negative impacts that come with it. As much as drug abuse can be short-term, its effects can be progressive, especially where control measures are not in place. It is through drug abuse that one develops addictions. There are still social, financial, and health implications that come with drug abuse. Drug abuse changes a person’s attitude and view of the world around them. It also leads to poor decision-making, impaired judgment, lower inhibitions, and an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases and other health issues.

Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is far more severe than drug abuse. An individual develops a chronic disease accompanied by a physical, emotional, and psychological need for drugs and substances with addiction. With addiction, the body develops tolerance to specific drugs and dictates you provide more of the substances with the same effect. 

Characteristics of Drug Addiction

  • Continued use of a specific drug or substance despite the negative consequences and impacts on the people around you
  • You experience severe or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms when you stop drug use abruptly.
  • The feeling of weariness and helplessness every time you try to stop using drugs.
  • Lower performance and productivity levels.
  • Frequent relapse

Effects of Addiction

The effects of addiction are widespread and expose drug users and the people around them to dangers. An addict is susceptible to mental and physical health issues that can get worse as time goes by. The effects of addiction are long-term, making them a concern. The best way to handle addiction and avoid related consequences is through seeking professional medical help from rehab and addiction treatment centers.

Addiction has harmful effects on an individual's mental health and can lead to depression, anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis. These mental health issues can take a big toll on the recovery efforts if not properly addressed.

Addiction can also have irreversible effects on individual physical health. The effects can be irreversible with the harm that addiction has to an individual’s liver, heart, kidneys, and lungs. Addicts can experience kidney failure, liver failure, collapsed veins, respiratory problems, cancer, stroke, HIV/AIDS, or heart attack. When you visit https://www.ascendantny.com/, you will learn more about the health effects of addiction on a person.

As much as some variables differentiate drug abuse and addiction, their impacts are harmful to everyone in the community. Finding ways to handle drug users and addicts and mitigate these effects is the best decision that one can make. With the availability of treatment in rehab facilities, taking care of such a situation becomes easier.


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