Drug Abuse vs. Drug Addiction

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While many people tend to use the phrases “drug abuse” and “drug addiction” interchangeably, they are two separate issues. While they are both harmful and will almost always lead to issues with one’s health, family, and career, it’s important to understand the difference between drug abuse vs drug addiction so that you can treat them both effectively. Located in the State of Washington, the friendly staff at Free by the Sea is ready to help anyone that’s struggling with drug abuse or drug addiction. 

Serving the Nation, based in the Pacific Northwest.

Difference Between Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction

A person doesn’t necessarily need to suffer from a drug addiction to have a problem with using drugs. People often refer to people that have drug use problems but don’t suffer from drug addictions as high-functioning drug addicts. These are the type of people that can hold jobs and loving relationships despite their issues.

On the outside, it may seem as if drug use isn’t affecting them. Still, the drug use can be causing some major problems just under the surface. When a person has a drug or alcohol problem that isn’t an addiction, it’s called drug or alcohol abuse.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Defined

There are slight differences that you should make note of when comparing drug abuse vs. drug addiction. For one, drug addiction is more dangerous than drug abuse. This is because those who are physically addicted to drugs and alcohol have no control over their drug use.

The urge that drug addicts have to use drugs and alcohol is so overwhelming that it often debilitates every other aspect of their lives. As a result, the social, physical, and psychological well-being of drug addicts will often fall by the wayside.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Defined

Drug and alcohol abuse is characterized as excessive use of drugs or alcohol. When anyone uses drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with life, that person is misusing substances. Thus, that person is performing a form of drug abuse. This drug abuse only becomes worse when a person continually and excessively chooses to misuse substances to cope with life.

Excessive drug and alcohol abuse often turns into drug addiction. This is due to the changes in a person’s brain chemistry that excessive drug abuse causes. These changes in brain chemistry cause people to have no more control over their drug use.

Prior to obtaining changes in the chemistry of their brains, chronic drug abusers will develop a dependency on substances. This dependency will cause drug abusers to experience withdrawals whenever they minimize or discontinue their use of substances. Once a person has a drug dependency, changes in his or her brain chemistry due to drug use, and no more control over his or her drug use habits, that person has a drug addiction.

Symptoms of Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction

When further comparing drug abuse vs. drug addiction, both conditions share many of the same characteristics and risks. Still, it’s important for a specialist to be able to accurately identify which one of these two conditions a patient has so that an effective solution can be obtained. Whether you’re a full-blown drug addict or a high-functioning drug user, if you want to take back control of your life, the team at Free by the Sea can help you.

Common symptoms of drug abuse include the following:

  • Deteriorating work or academic performance
  • Disregard for personal appearance
  • Legal problems stemming from drug use
  • Financial problems related to drug use
  • Deteriorating personal relationships
  • Inappropriate or unaccountable personality changes

Common symptoms of drug addiction include the following:

  • Poor memory or mental confusion
  • Chronically red eyes and problems with motor skills
  • Putting the need to acquire drugs over all other activities
  • Inability to stop using drugs despite negative repercussions

No single treatment is right for every drug user or addict. That’s why the Free by the Sea staff takes the time to understand the unique situations of our patients before coming up with plans of action. The most effective drug use or addiction treatment programs are those that adapt to each person to produce lifelong results.

Additional Issues

Even with high-functioning abusers, drug use is not a standalone problem that’s separate from one’s personal relationships or career. Every aspect of a drug abuser’s life will play a role in their drug use habit.

Here at Free by the Sea, instead of simply attacking the side effects of drug use, we uncover and treat the underlying causes. Without this approach, the chance of relapsing remains high, and you may find yourself thrust back into the cycle of abuse and addiction once again.

Myths About Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction

When comparing drug abuse vs. drug addiction some things are the same. For example, the myths about drug abuse and drug addiction are quite similar. Below are some of the common myths about drug abuse and drug addiction.

girl with addiction problem

  • You can overcome drug addiction with just willpower.
  • You must hit rock bottom before receiving treatment or help for drug addiction.
  • There is nothing you can do to overcome a drug addiction since it is a disease.
  • If addiction treatment doesn’t work for you the first time, it will never work for you.
  • Using prescription drugs like opioid painkillers is always safe because doctors prescribe them to patients.

If you ever hear any of these myths about drug abuse and drug addiction, just know that they aren’t true. You can always overcome drug addiction, even if you’ve relapsed after receiving addiction treatment in the past. Just know that to overcome drug addiction, you need to put in the work and receive proper addiction treatment. Willpower isn’t enough to overcome the horrible disease that is addiction.

Also, you don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom to receive help for your addiction. In fact, it’s better if you save yourself some heartache and struggle and attend addiction treatment as soon as you realize that you have a drug problem.

Risks Factors for Drug Addiction

While anyone can develop a drug addiction, there are some people that are more prone to developing a drug addiction after drug abuse than others. Some of the risk factors for the development of drug addiction include:

  • Using drugs at an early age
  • A family history of drug addiction
  • Having already experienced abuse, neglect, or other traumas
  • Already having mental disorders such as depression or anxiety
  • Choosing to smoke or inject substances (smoking or injecting substances into your body often increase the addictive potential of those substances)

Why Choose Free by the Sea?

Free by the Sea is an addiction treatment center with a beautiful 5-acre campus that’s located on the Long Beach Peninsula in Ocean Park, WA, facing the Pacific Ocean. The beautiful and peaceful environment surrounding our addiction treatment center makes it the perfect environment to attend rehab in.

Our Amenities

On top of the environment surrounding our addiction treatment center being a great place to attend rehab, the inside of our treatment center is also great. This is because the inside of our treatment center contains countless amenities that those in rehab can enjoy when they are in-between treatments. For example, our facility contains basketball and volleyball courts inside of it along with an exercise room.

Our Treatment Approach and Professional Staff

The community of dedicated professionals that work here at Free by the Sea is committed to providing care to all individuals with dignity and respect. That’s why client-centered care that’s respectful of individual needs and concerns is the foundation of our approach.

We here at Free by the Sea also adhere to evidence-based practices. Evidence-based practices are practices that are focused on successful outcomes for long-term recovery. To further ensure that we produce successful outcomes for long-term recovery, all of our counselors are substance abuse certified and all of our mental health therapists are licensed. Plus, every patient at our facility receives nutritionally designed meals to help them function at their best.

The Wide Variety of Therapy Forms That We Use

Another way that we help our patients maintain their sobriety long-term is by providing them with different forms of therapy that address their underlying issues of addiction. Some common forms of therapy that we may use to treat drug abuse vs. drug addiction include dialectical behavior therapycognitive-behavioral therapy, EMDR therapy, and trauma-informed treatment.

When comparing drug abuse vs drug addiction, there are different types of individual and group therapy programs that you can use for both. Some of these programs include relapse prevention, life skills, and addiction education. Also, when it comes to aftercare services and support groups for drug abuse vs. drug addiction, 12-step meetings are effective with both.

The treatment programs that we offer here at Free by the Sea include residential treatment, partial hospitalization program treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment. Therefore, you can receive addiction treatment with us for a long amount of time or a short amount of time, depending on your needs.

Find Hope and Healing at Free by the Sea Today

You may have many reasons for not seeking professional treatment, but every day spent under the control of drugs or alcohol is one more chance for these chemicals to cause irreversible damage to your brain and body. Even when you compare drug abuse vs. drug addiction, both conditions can ruin your life. That’s why it’s imperative for anyone that’s suffered through extensive drug abuse or drug addiction to attend rehab at an addiction treatment center like Free by the Sea.

To learn more about Free by the Sea and the addiction treatment services that we offer, contact us today. Our staff is available to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.