What Is The Difference Between Abuse and Addiction

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What Is The Difference Between Abuse and Addiction?To many, abuse and addiction may come off as words that hold the same meaning. After all, addiction is often described as abuse of some substance or action. However, abuse and addiction have more differences than just their literal meaning.

A good place to start would be to define abuse where it pertains to drugs, alcohol or addictive processes. Abuse is when an individual lacks moderation when ingesting a substance, or lacks control in certain processes that can be harmful such as sex, gambling or shopping. Abuse however, is not quite the same as addiction. An individual who, for example, drinks until they black out is clearly abusing alcohol. However, this individual might not be addicted. If the individual consume substances to the point of endangerment, or causing harm in other aspects of life but still has control of when this happens, they are abusing, but they are not addicted. This gray area that differentiates abuse and addiction is quite slim, but so long as the individual can break away or control their intake, he or she is not an addict.  A stereotypical example of abuse would be the college students who party until they pass out on the front lawn or conduct themselves in an out of control manner, but then are able to buckle down for in order to cram for finals. The abuse is still dangerous, and can absolutely lead to an addiction.

Addiction on the other hand comes when repeated abuse of a substance or process develops into a daily or even hourly necessity. When it comes to addiction the bottom line is that the individuals can no longer control themselves, and their bodies may even be dependent on the drug in order to function normally. Drugs such as heroin, cocaine and alcohol have an enormous potential for addiction and also, over time, they change the body's chemistry. Addicts who abuse hard drugs for a long time steadily change their brain chemistry so that the organ needs the substance in order to operate normally. This is what leads to withdrawals when addicts try to quit using their drug of choice.

Withdrawals are also a main division between abuse and addiction. Individuals abusing substances typically will not experience withdrawal symptoms besides hangover. Individuals who are addicted, will experience withdrawal symptoms when they begin to sober up, as the body cries for help demanding more of the substance or process that it has become lenient on. Addicts do commit abuse, most likely on a daily basis. But those who abuse substances or processes don't necessarily fall into the category of addiction. Knowing the difference is important, and yet it can be difficult for some to draw the line between the two. Understanding whether an individual is addicted, or alternately just has abusive tendencies can greatly change what type of help they may need. Addicts will often require long-term treatment  where they will receive detoxification (when needed), as well as therapeutic counseling services.However, individuals who have abusive tendencies may or may not need and if they do; it will be in the form of counseling in a less intensive manner.