When Substance Abuse Becomes Addiction

It is not unusual for the terms “abuse” and “addiction” to be used interchangeably when talking about drug or alcohol

Mar 3

It is not unusual for the terms “abuse” and “addiction” to be used interchangeably when talking about drug or alcohol use. However, the two are actually very different conditions, with addiction being the more serious of the two. It is also important to understand that substance abuse can turn into addiction over time. Because it is difficult to predict how long it will take for abuse to become addiction, it is always best to address the issue in the earlier stage, when it is still at its most treatable.

Signs of Substance Abuse

There are a number of signs to watch for over a 12-month period if you are trying to determine if an individual is abusing drugs or alcohol:

  • Substance use is interfering with work, school or other daily activities
  • Person uses drugs or alcohol in reckless ways, such as driving while intoxicated
  • Continued substance use even if the habit is causing strain in personal relationships
  • Problems arise related to substance use, such as legal or financial issues

Substance abuse is a serious problem that can lead to addiction if it is left unchecked. However, treatment at this stage, which might include time in a treatment center, can be very successful.

Signs of Substance Addiction

Addiction, also referred to as substance dependency, is generally characterized by these observable signs over a 12-month period:

Tolerance is developed, which requires the addict to use more of the substance to get the same “high”
If the substance is stopped, physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms can occur
Efforts to cut back or stop using the substance are continuously unsuccessful
Investment of a great deal of time and money in using the substance
Ingestion of potentially dangerous amounts of the drug or alcohol

Substance addiction is significantly more complex to treat. A residential treatment program is usually required to help the individual get off the substance completely and learn to live without the drug or alcohol. Medical treatment is generally necessary in the early phase of treatment, to ensure withdrawal symptoms are properly and safely cared for. In addition, ample support after the treatment program will ensure the addict successfully integrates back into daily life without relapses.

At Pasadena Recovery Center, we help those abusing or addicted to drugs or alcohol find hope and a successful path to sobriety. Our programs are tailored to the unique needs of each patient, to ensure the best possible outcome from their treatment program. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact our staff at 866-663-3030.

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