While addiction to any form of drug can involve both abuse and dependence, it’s important to understand the differences between the two when choosing to discuss with or help a loved one during their path to recovery. Removing this confusion will make the process of working with someone fighting addiction much less stressful.
The Difference Is In the Diagnosis
Drug abuse and drug dependence are medical terms utilized with official definitions and diagnosis requirements.
Drug abuse is typically what those unfamiliar with the process think of when they hear talk of an individual being addicted to drug use. They picture users abusing the substance leading to pushing away loved ones, engaging in dangerous activities under the influence and running into financial hardships instead of simply discontinuing their purchase of these illicit substances.
Drug dependence can often be the outcome of initial drug abuse that spirals out of control. This is due to dependence often starting as a user’s tolerance increases, making getting the “high” they seek harder and harder to achieve. Increasing the amount of substance used will escalate dependence making it both physical and psychological in many cases.
Signs of Drug Abuse
Keeping an eye on loved ones who you know use drugs can help stave off abusive habits through intervention. While no amount of drug use is good, it is ultimately the responsibility of the user to want and seek sobriety. How you can help is to know the signs that their drug of choice is taking hold of their life.
One of the easiest to spot signs is when they begin to use the drug more frequently and in situations that should be handled while sober. Activities such as driving or taking care of children that begin involving drug use is a scary combination. Often times this can lead to legal trouble if the authorities must get involved, typically due to users not seeing the negative consequences as dire enough to stop their usage.
How to Spot Drug Dependency
Knowing the difference between signs of drug abuse and dependency can help with the approach taken in assisting users in finding the help they need. Building off of the increased tolerance long-term users create, dependency is the physical or mental requirement to utilize drugs in order to feel “normal” again.
Those dependent on drugs allow the substance to be the driving force behind all of their decisions, with the ultimate goal of acquiring and using more and more of it. Taking more to reach their desired level of inebriation means more financial burden and much more damage to their body, both inside and out.
Addiction that leads to dependency will also make itself present when the user is unable to acquire more of their abused substance, causing withdrawal symptoms ranging from irritability and rash behavior, to physical tremors and intestinal issues. Even the most well hidden addiction shows its true nature as the body can not handle the lack of a drug it has been accommodating for so long.
In Either Case, Help Is the Answer
At Baystate Recovery Center, our team consists of medical professionals who have a passion for helping those battling addiction. Whether it’s drug or alcohol based, any level of abuse or dependence should be met with compassionate help. Visit us online or over the phone at (855)-88-SOBER today for a confidential consultation with an addiction specialist.