Substance Abuse vs. Addiction: Is There a Difference?

There is a fine line between substance abuse vs. addiction. People who abuse substances can stop using them when they want. There might have to be some sort of external motivation to stop, but they can quit voluntarily. For example, if someone who abuses substances gets a DUI for driving under the influence of alcohol, they might stop drinking or at least reduce their alcohol intake. People who abuse substances might need negative consequences before they decide to stop but they can stop on their own.

On the other hand, a person who suffers from substance addiction cannot stop, regardless of the negative consequences that may occur. People who abuse substances have the potential for developing an addiction. At Coastal Detox, we are here to help people who are suffering from substance abuse and substance addiction. Our mission is to help each individual to take the first step on their road to recovery through detoxification.

Addiction vs. Substance Abuse

A person who has an addiction might want to quit abusing their substance but they find themselves unable to stop even though their addiction has serious negative side effects. They might try to quit using on their own but find themselves unable to do so. They might even be properly motivated by negative consequences to try to quit. Unless they find the professional help they need they will not be able to start on their road to recovery. 

Addiction Changes the Structure of the Brain

Addiction physically changes the brain. An example is when someone abuses an opioid drug, it stimulates the opioid receptors in the brain. This triggers the cells to release a pleasurable substance in the brain called dopamine. If the person takes too much tramadol for too long or any other opioid for a long period of time, the brain creates more opioid receptors to deal with the large amount of the drug.

The person with the substance addiction disorder will need more and more of the opioid to create a pleasurable experience; this is called tolerance. A person might have a high tolerance for a drug such as cocaine. This means that the individual needs more and more cocaine to get the sensations they want. The amount they first started using will not be enough. 

In some cases people who abuse drugs get to a point where they have trouble getting pleasure from things they used to love like eating their favorite food, spending time with family and friends, or even sex without being high. People who abuse substances will be able to still feel good doing those things.

substance abuse vs addiction

The Signs of Addiction Go Beyond Misusing Substances

An individual who is struggling with a substance addiction will do anything to get more of their drug of choice. Dishonesty and other negative behavioral changes may occur as individuals do what they feel they must in order to be able to get more of the substance.

A person who abuses substances may not go to those extremes to get their drug of choice. Still, some characteristic changes and behavioral shifts may present themselves in cases of substance abuse. 

People who are suffering from addiction may show signs of hygiene problems. They may appear to be unkempt in many aspects. Another common sign of addiction is self-isolation. Individuals may also start to show symptoms of withdrawal when unable to get substances, and soon have problems keeping their job.

On the other hand, an individual who abuses substances might only abuse them during the weekend or at another time when it does not interfere with their job. They might not leave work to drink or abuse other substances. Basic things like hygiene and social relations will not typically be thrown into chaos.

Substance Abuse vs. Addiction: Which One Am I Dealing With?

A good question to ask yourself if you are wondering whether you are abusing substances or suffering from an addiction is ‘is this harming me?’. Someone who is abusing alcohol, for example, might come to work with a hangover once or twice. A person with an active addiction disorder will regularly come into work with a hangover and either drink on the job or leave work to go drink. 

The same holds true for other substance use problems. Many people do not believe that marijuana is a harmful drug. However, someone who tests positive for drugs at work whether because of marijuana, Xanax, cocaine, or other drugs will stop if they are given a second chance. Or, if they do not have a second chance, they may stop using drugs altogether as they look for a new job.

Someone with an addiction disorder will continue to drink, smoke, or otherwise take substances even if they are given a second chance. This is not due to their choice, however. Instead, it is because addiction hinders individuals from ending substance use, even if they try. Again, addiction changes a person’s brain structure; those who suffer from substance addictions often depend on substances in order to function. 

Getting Professional Help for Substance Abuse and Addiction

Abuse or Addiction

The truth of the matter is that ending substance use is uncomfortable. The symptoms of withdrawal can be extremely difficult to deal with. In fact, in many cases, withdrawal symptoms cause individuals to relapse and return to substance use. Also, some withdrawal symptoms can actually be severe enough to lead to a hospital visit or, in some situations, death. So it is incredibly important for individuals to receive professional guidance throughout the detox process.

It is not recommended that you try to detox on your own. A detox clinic can help you get through your detox process more comfortably and with proper medical supervision. This medical supervision requires medical professionals who have current medical licenses. You cannot safely detox with supplements from the internet or after reading general articles. Your road to recovery is worth a proper, safe, detox. You deserve to be safe!

Since denial is often a big part of an active addiction disorder, it could be a good idea to suggest that your struggling loved one visit a doctor who is familiar with addiction and the signs of addiction. This might be the wake-up call that your loved one needs. It could help the person with the substance abuse disorder accept help. It could also help your loved one if they abuse substances like Xanax realize that they could develop an addiction if they don’t stop. A doctor could also suggest other ways for your loved one to have fun and relax other than consuming substances. 

Someone who is actively addicted to substances might find themselves on the path towards what is considered even harder drugs like ketamine, heroin, or methamphetamine (also known as meth). It is unlikely that people who abuse drugs but are not addicted will follow this path. 

It is Never Too Early to Get Help

Detoxification is an essential part of rehabilitation. People who do not go through detox will still have the substances in their bodies when they start the next chapter of their clinical rehabilitation journey. They will be worried about where to get alcohol, heroin, cocaine , and other drugs instead of being able to focus on their clinical road to recovery. 

This is why we offer detox services here at Coastal Detox in Stuart, FL. We understand the importance of this vital step in the recovery process. We also know that individuals who suffer from substance abuse may soon find themselves struggling with an addiction. So, it is important for individuals to receive professional help as soon as possible.

If you think you or a loved one think that you might have an addiction disorder it is not too late to get help. At Coastal Detox, we have the tools to help you or your loved one detoxify from substances in a safe, comfortable way. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help end substance abuse or addiction in your life!

References:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

No products in the cart.