Substance abuse is a phenomenon that plagues every corner of society, with no regard for demographic. People are drawn to overusing or harmfully using substances for a variety of reasons, even to the point of requiring treatment or rehabilitation, but many similarities can be drawn between individual cases of substance abuse. And though substance abuse and addiction share many attributes, the differences between them are quantifiable.
First of all, there is more than one kind of addiction. There are physical addictions, where the body and its chemical processes have become dependent on the substance to function. This form of addiction creates withdrawal symptoms such as sweating and shaking when the substance is not ingested, and creates a tolerance within the body against the pleasurable affects of the substance, requiring an increasingly higher dosage of it with every use. The second type of addiction is a psychological one, which makes the addict feel and believe that they cannot function without the drug despite having no chemical dependence on it.
Addiction may form due to the method the substance is being administered. For example, drugs that enter the system through needle injection, such as meth and heroin, are more addictive than drugs that enter the system slowly, such as marijuana smoked from a pipe into the lungs or cocaine snorted onto the nasal membranes. Dependence and tolerance set in simultaneously to addiction, making the method of ingestion a critical determining factor in the transition from substance abuse to addiction.
The individual’s personality and chemical make up play a major part in how quickly they may become addicted to a substance. The term “addictive personality” is used to describe this type of individual, but in truth it is an array of things, chemical, environmental and behavioral, that can make a person more predisposed to addiction than others. For some, an addiction may come on slowly and progressively. For others, it can feel like it set in over night.
Addiction to a substance can have serious detrimental effects on a person’s well-being. Statistically, addicted persons are more likely to encounter health issues, relationship inabilities and problems retaining employment. One of the most successful solutions to the problem of addiction is a drug abuse rehab or alcohol abuse rehab, and many resources are available to get individuals in touch with the addiction rehab program that is right for them.
Biologically speaking, addiction has been tied to a person’s neural network. The human brain experiences pleasure when it receives an addictive substance, neurotransmitters in the brain exchange data about its pleasurability and the person’s use increases. But with increased use comes tolerance to the substance, and soon the person does not feel normal without regularly ingesting the substance. Psychologically speaking, addiction can be caused by mental illness, unhealthy learned behaviors, or negative feelings that manifest through a person’s thoughts and beliefs.
It is best to have a physician determine whether or not a person is in fact experiencing addiction, however, the person in question and their support system can watch for signs that indicate an addiction. Often the person will display an inability to end or limit their use of the substance, and will feel that the continued ingestion of the substance is necessary. They may seek ways to obtain the substance illegally or in higher quanitities than is recommended by a doctor so as not to face the possibility of running out of the substance. These signs typically indicate that the person’s addiction is no longer under their control, and may be determinates of the person’s need for addiction inpatient rehabilitation.
Not everyone who uses a substance is addicted, and many casual users can stop or limit their use at will. However, other personalities can become dependent on the substance to the point that their lives are controlled by it. For these cases of addiction, expert intervention is needed to safely end the person’s deeply rooted biochemical and psychological dependence on the substance. Substance abuse treatment programs are one of the most successful ways of ending addiction, through detoxification, counselling sessions, cognitive behavioral therapy, life courses, medical services and a professional support network.