Drug Misuse, Addiction And Abuse: Major Differences You Should Know

Updated on January 17, 2022

Drug use, abuse, or addiction! While many people use these terms interchangeably, they have separate and distinctive meanings!

One can abuse drugs without actually being addicted or dependent on drugs. The definition of drug abuse focuses more on how the people are using the drug.

On the other hand, addiction refers to the use of drugs that leave psychological and physiological effects.

It is important to understand that drug abuse is an extreme desire to obtain or use an increased amount of one or more substances.

You can even say that drug abuse is a generic term that encapsulates the concept of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.

Whereas drug addiction is a chronic disease that makes it impossible for the individual to stop using drugs.

It is important to understand that even though the definitions are different for drug misuse, abuse, and addiction, they all are harmful.

Let’s understand them in more detail!

What Is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction can be considered a progressive disease. It can cause people to lose control over the use of some substances despite knowing their worsening consequences.

Some people think that addiction is related to a lack of willpower and morality. However, experts have already confirmed that’s not the case.

Addiction is simply a powerful and complex disease. People who are suffering from addiction cannot simply pull up their sleeves and say – I Quit!

The drug changes how the brain functions. Over the prolonged use of drugs make the brain’s normal functioning dependent on drugs. Hence, quitting drugs becomes both physically and mentally challenging.

Once you have fallen victim to addiction, you can only come out of that pothole by going through a medical detox and other addiction treatment programs. To know more about the treatment programs, click here to continue.

Cause Of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction starts with an action that is just performed as an experiment. This experiment is done in a social setting to try new things. However, the experiment soon becomes a habit, and a habit develops into addiction.

Substances such as cocaine and nicotine can affect the way one feels. Some people like how it mentally and physically stimulates the body. Over time individuals get obsessed with these feelings.

This consideration led the person to develop an addiction towards a particular substance.

What Is Drug Abuse?

Drug abuse is not addiction.

The more appropriate definition of drug abuse would go like this – 

‘Drug Abuse is the illegal use of drugs or prescribed medicine or over the counter medicine in a way other than its recommendation.’

Many drugs that are abused are also addictive. These drugs can cause craving and a desire for continued use despite knowing it has negative side effects.

People who use drugs may take them out of curiosity, to feel good, to run away from reality, or due to peer pressure. While the habit that started with short-lived pleasure and satisfaction affects several body parts.

Treatment can be done based on the severity of the abuse. For instance, if the person is only in the initial stage of abuse, outpatients treatment services are more than enough.

However, if an individual has taken a full dive into the whole drug abuse thing, they might be suffering from addiction. In that case, inpatients are the only choice.

Cause Of Drug Abuse

The science working behind drug abuse is not known. In fact, experts are still trying to find answers to why some people abuse drugs briefly and get hooked on them.

While there is no proven evidence, some excerpts do believe that biological factors can be one reason. Genetics and the presence of other psychiatric disorders may play a role in pushing individuals towards drug abuse.

What Is Drug Misuse?

Drug misuse is the practice of using drugs other than how they are recommended. Unfortunately, most people use the terms drug misuse and abuse interchangeably. And for a fact, it’s true.

There is a slim difference between misuse and abuse. That is –

Abuse refers to the practice where people are using a drug more than they need to and Misuse refers to the one or two-time occurrence of using the drug other than how they need to be used.

Drug misuse is generally related to the prescribed drugs. Prescribed medicine is intended to be taken as per the physician has advice. Take more than the suggested dose, and it can leave side effects.

Cause Of Drug Misuse

While there are many reasons supporting the cause, we believe the following contribute the most.

  • Taking incorrect doses.
  • Taking the drug at the wrong time.
  • Stopping your medicine soon.
  • Forgetting to take your dose.
  • Or simply taking drugs that were not prescribed.

Understanding When Drug Misuse And Abuse Become Addiction

Of course – Drug Misuse and Abuse don’t automatically lead to addiction!

Some people are able to use the prescribed drugs for recreational purposes without falling victim to addiction. While some people find substance use taking a toll on their bodies.

Drug addiction is not about misuse or abuse; it is more about the frequency and the consequences of drug use. If your drug use is causing problems in your life, you are suffering from addiction problems.

If you or your loved one is suffering from drug misuse and abuse, take professional help to deal with the problem before it develops into addiction.

The first step towards recovery is recognizing that you have a problem. Once you have taken this first step, everything will look simple, and recovery will seem achievable.

How Do You Recover?

You must know that drug addiction is a chronic disease with treatment. Like any other disease, you can treat addiction. However, the treatment is different from other chronic diseases.

Addiction treatment is a lifelong process!

Even after completing your addiction recovery treatment, you need to ensure to stay away from the triggers.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.