People often get confused when looking at abuse versus addiction. Substance abuse is essentially the use of any substance in a way that it was not intended for and amounts that are excessive and chronic. For example if one uses a pain medication for personal relief or euphoria. In the abuse phase there is the possibility that the person will recognise the problem and instantly stop using and abusing it.

Addiction however implies a far more severe form of substance abuse. Abuse versus addiction can be difficult to understand.  It typically manifests with an accompanying brain injury, or damage, called dependence. Symptoms of an addiction can be physical or mental but in most cases are a combination of the two.

Many people will begin to experience a form of progression which starts with abuse, it slowly but surely turns into an addiction consisting of a mental dependency. The person will think and feel as though they need the substance to function and eventually this will progress and the person will become physically dependent.

Abuse versus addiction: Obvious signs

In the majority of cases one of the first and most obvious signs is the inability to stop using even if the person says they want to. Unfortunately most people who abuse drugs or alcohol nearly never realise that their little recreational habit has become an addiction. They become physically dependent and most people find it almost impossible to cease use of the substance.

This is because repeated abuse of drugs or alcohol causes injury to the brain, and over time alters the person’s brain chemistry, leading to physiological changes in the brain. These changes are what lead to physical dependence and the inability to control drug and/or alcohol use, as the frontal lobes of the brain – which are responsible for functions such as inhibition control and rational thought – are essentially asleep at the wheel.

For more information on how we can help you with your addiction contact Step One Recovery today and take your first step on the path to a healthier future!