Addiction or Abuse?
Addiction or Abuse
There is a difference between Addiction or Abuse. The difference is not that great, but it’s important to understand when an individual goes from abusing alcohol/drugs to being addicted to alcohol/drugs.
What is drug abuse?
The easiest way of defining alcohol/drug abuse is observing that someone uses a drug for something other than the way it was medically prescribed. For instance, they have a habit of taking a drug to “get high” or “for fun.” They take much more than they were prescribed. They take the alcohol/drugs for recreation.
Some “drugs” that are used for recreation may not be prescription meds, or over-the-counter medications, or even drugs from the street. They can be common, everyday substances. Let’s consider an example, people inhale glue or solvents to get high. People want to have a mood change, to feel good.
Professional drug counselors will tell you that any use of illegal alcohol/drugs is drug abuse. Some of these drugs are illegal because they are potentially very addictive and harmful to an individual’s health. That broadens our definition of drug abuse even more. Therefore, any illegal drug use, or any use of prescription or non-prescription medication use beyond what is prescribed by a medical professional, or any use of a chemical to get high, is drug abuse.
There are some alcohol/drugs that are used to relax, to feel good, to be sociable. Alcohol is the most common drug used in America for this purpose. It’s legal, and if taken in moderation, is not harmful. But alcohol is certainly addictive. Some people say pot is not addictive, and therefore should be legal, but researchers have found that pot has other harmful effects, even if someone is not “addicted.” People can become psychologically addicted, even if there is no physical dependence.
Almost any substance can be abused and Addiction or Abuse are possible. Cigarettes, caffeine and other common, legal substances are abused by people every day. Sometimes the line between use and abuse is fuzzy.
For example, people might go to the tavern after work and have a couple of drinks with their friends. Is that abuse? Some might argue that it becomes abuse when it becomes a regular, daily occurrence. Too many cigarettes, too much coffee, to many diet sodas. The line is determined by the individual.
What is Addiction?
We will now try to determine when drug abuse becomes addiction. When an individual is abusing a drug they are making a choice. They choose to get high. When an individual goes into addiction, their choice in the matter is either severely limited or taken away entirely.
The 12-Step program begins with a very important statement, “We admitted we were powerless…”
You can insert the drug that is doing the damage. When the drug takes over, when an individual’s life is all about getting the drug and taking the drug, when nothing but the drug matters, that is addiction. An individual might develop a physical “need” for the drug, or a psychological craving for the drug. The first step in the 12-Step program ends with:
“that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Powerless and unmanageable
Powerless and unmanageable are the real issues of addiction. When the chemistry of the brain changes, it’s tricked into thinking it MUST HAVE the drug to function. Then physical addiction begins and the individual must have the drug. As the body needs nutrition to live, the addicted brain believes it needs the drug to survive. It doesn’t matter if the individual is dying, it doesn’t matter if their health has deteriorated and even if their life has been ruined. All that matters is the drug.
The addicted individual might even holler and scream that they are in control, that they can “handle it,” or that every other individual who is watching is wrong and only they are right. Sadly, addiction is easier to see from the outside looking in.
There are medical explanations of addiction, but suffice it to say that addiction owns the addict. From the perspective of the addicted individual, they have to take the drug to feel “normal” or to feel “good.” There is no choice. People do things they normally would never think of doing. They steal money. They become prostitutes. They break off relationships, even the ones with those they love the most. Why? The drug is dictating their life.
So now what?
Whether an individual is struggling with Addiction or Abuse to alcohol/drugs, it’s a certainly an issue. It’s not a problem that a mere “I’ll cut back,” or “I can handle it” is going to solve. Addiction or Abuse are both serious problems.
Perhaps an individual can recognize that their drug use is really abuse and they will stop on their own. God bless them. But most individuals can’t. They need trained help. They can meet with their doctor and get a recommendation and treatment advice. There’re governmental agencies that deal help deal with Addiction or Abuse.
There are treatment centers. There is Alcoholics Anonymous. Recovery from abuse and addiction is vitally important. Find professional help and support. Addiction or Abuse are both conditions that should be dealt with as soon as possible because the situation is only likely to get much worse.
Addiction or Abuse Addiction or Abuse Addiction or Abuse Addiction or Abuse
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