Drug abuse is oftentimes called substance abuse although that includes alcohol as well. It describes a maladaptive behavior pattern of use that is different from dependency on a particular drug. However, it does not exclude the existence of dependency despite the fact that the terms are used interchangeably when they shouldn’t be. The bottom line is that the chronic abuse of or dependency upon a particular drug could become health or life-threatening if the individual suffering with either condition does not get professional help.
Drug abuse is defined as the condition that exists when an individual exhibits specific behavior patterns over a one-year period which may include one or more of the following:
- their performance on the job or in school suffers because of their drug use
- they continue their drug use despite the negative impact that it has on various relationships in their lives (family, friends, loved ones, etc.)
- they have financial, legal, and social problems on a regular basis
- they take part in dangerous or reckless behavior when they are under the influence (such as driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery)
Drug addiction is the more serious of the two conditions and refers to when an individual and refers to one of the following physical or psychological signs or symptoms:
- a tolerance to a particular drug has developed which means that the individual will need to take increasing amounts of the substance in order to achieve the desired effect or “get high”
- the individual experiences either physical or psychological (or both) symptoms after they stop using the drug
- they take dangerous amounts or doses of the drug
- they are powerless to stop taking drugs recreationally despite their numerous attempts to do so
Another significant difference is the fact that drug abuse can lead to drug addiction. It does not happen the in the reverse order. Another key fact about drug abuse involves individuals with dual diagnosis, teenagers, and women. These individuals tend to develop addictions much quicker than others so the issue needs to be identified and addressed faster than what it is with other individuals.
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