Are you addicted to a substance? Or are you abusing a substance? They are different. Many times, people with substance abuse issues are able to stop or change their risky behavior. On the other hand, addiction is a disease that makes it hard to stop abusing substances even when it is causing you to experience harmful consequences. That’s not to say that substance abuse is something you can take lightly. If you are looking to attend rehab for your substance addiction in the South Carolina area, you can receive SC addiction treatment here at The Owl’s Nest Recovery.
Abuse happens when you use:
- prescription drugs
- other legal and illegal substances too much or in the wrong way
But whether you are abusing a substance or completely addicted, there is SC addiction treatment at The Owl’s Nest that can get your life back on track before it’s too late.
What Is The Difference Between Abuse and Addiction?
The terms “addiction” and “substance abuse” are closely related terms but there are certain differences. In day-to-day conversations, the differences can sometimes be unclear. While both substance abuse and addiction can have harmful effects on your life, not everyone who abuses substances will eventually develop an addiction. Knowing the early signs of substance abuse can warn you of the need for treatment before you go on to a full-blown addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that addiction is different from substance abuse because it is a chronic disease that is difficult to control. Thus, abuse of some substances, such as prescription drugs or alcohol can bring about chemical changes in your brain that lead to addiction.
What’s Substance Abuse?
Overusing a substance and using a substance in a way other than the way it was intended are signs of abuse. If you are prescribed a painkiller but you take it more often, or you take it in higher doses than prescribed, it is a sign of substance abuse.
Some behavioral signs of substance abuse include:
- Missing work, school, or social events regularly
- Failing to meet obligations
- Moodiness and irritability
- Denying how severe the drug use is
- Isolating yourself from family and friends
Can Substance Abuse Lead to Addiction?
Even though substance abuse is not an addiction yet, warning signs must be carefully monitored. There is a subtle difference between the two, and it’s helpful to remember that substance abuse can exist without addiction. But still, abuse frequently leads to addiction. So the difficulties associated with substance abuse are easier to overcome before you become dependent or addicted to a substance.
As a result of the changes in your brain from abusing certain substances, some people are compelled to keep using the substance they’ve become addicted to no matter what the negative consequences are. According to Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, drug addiction has a more severe presentation than drug abuse. Along with the physical symptoms of addiction comes the psychological feature of feeling helpless and hopeless in having control over addiction behaviors.
Some general symptoms of substance use disorder (SUD) are:
- Developing a tolerance to the substance
- Having withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using
- The inability to stop, even when you want to
- Continually thinking about the drug, how to get it, and how it feels to use it
- Losing the ability to complete daily tasks
- Problems with relationships with friends, family, and coworkers
- Sleep problems– too little or too much
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in appearance, including:
– Bloodshot eyes
– Weight loss or gain
– Tremors and shakiness
- Decrease in personal hygiene
- Combining drugs and alcohol
- Stealing or borrowing money to buy drugs
- Abusing prescriptions to get more of the substance
- Agitation, irritability, and motivation changes
To overcome substance addiction, one should receive addiction treatment. Individuals can receive SC addiction treatment at The Owl’s Nest Recovery.
What Are The Most Abused Substances?
Legal and illegal drugs both have chemicals that can change how your body and mind work. People often abuse substances to experience a pleasurable high, to ease their stress, or to help them avoid problems in their lives. The most commonly abused substances are:
Although alcohol affects everyone differently, if you drink too much and too often, the chance of you having an accident or experiencing an injury goes up. In addition, heavy consumption of alcohol can cause liver and other health problems. Ultimately, though, chronic alcohol abuse leads to the development of alcohol addiction.
What is Heavy Drinking?
If you’re a man and you drink more than four drinks in a day or more than 14 in a week, that’s heavy drinking. Heavy drinking for women means more than three drinks in a day or more than seven drinks in a week.
How much is a drink?
- 12 ounces of regular beer
- 8 – 9 ounces of malt liquor (it has more alcohol than beer)
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1 ½ ounce of distilled spirits like whiskey and vodka
Common Signs of Alcohol Addiction
- Temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
- Showing signs of irritability and extreme mood swings
- Making excuses to drink such as to deal with stress, relax, or to feel normal
- Deciding to drink instead of handling responsibilities and obligations
- Isolating from family and friends
- Drinking in secrecy or alone
- Feeling hungover when you’re not drinking
- Changing your group of friends and appearance
- Even if the drinking problem seems minor, alcohol abuse symptoms should not be ignored.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) and Prescription Medications
These medications can be just as addictive and dangerous as illegal drugs. You are abusing medications if you:
- Take medication that was prescribed for someone else
- Consume more medication than prescribed at a time
- Take medication for a longer period of time than prescribed
Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
- Opioid pain relievers
- Medication prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Sleep and anxiety medications
Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction
- Forging, stealing, or selling prescriptions
- Taking higher doses than prescribed
- Extreme mood swings or hostility
- Decrease or increase in sleep
- Impaired decision-making ability
- Having the appearance of being high, unusually energetic, or sedated
- Constantly “losing” prescriptions or requesting early refills so more prescriptions must be written
- Getting prescriptions from more than one doctor
Physical Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction
- Slowed breathing
- Loss of coordination
- Need to increase dose for pain relief
Anti-Anxiety and Sedative Drugs
- Slurred speech
- Loss of concentration
- Memory problems
- Slowed breathing
- Increased alertness
- Feeling high
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Appetite reduction
- Agitation and anxiety
Most Commonly Abused OTC Drugs
Cough and cold medicines that contain dextromethorphan (DXM)
At high doses, these medicines can make you feel drunk or intoxicated.
Heroin is the natural version of manmade prescription opioids. At first, heroin gives you a rush of euphoric feelings. However, when it wears off, your world slows down. You think and move more slowly, you may have chills, nervousness, and nausea. You’ll probably feel a strong urge to take more heroin to feel better.
Signs of Heroin Addiction
- Flushed skin
- Constricted pupils
- Going “on the nod” (suddenly falling asleep)
- Slow breathing
- Loss of self-control
- Nausea and vomiting
Typically, cocaine is snorted as a powder, but it can also be made into a rock form (crack) and smoked. Cocaine tightens blood vessels and speeds the heart. These are the main reasons for most cocaine-related deaths. Even in small doses, sudden death is not uncommon.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
- Rapid mood swings
- Drastic change in friends
- Manipulation of others
- Deterioration of personal hygiene
- Sniffing and using nasal decongestants
- Failure to meet work and family obligations
- Continuing to use cocaine even though it is adding to psychological or physical problems
How is a Substance Use Disorder Diagnosed?
A thorough evaluation is necessary to diagnose a SUD. This often includes a determination by a:
- Licensed alcohol and drug counselor
To diagnose a SUD, most professionals use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The 11 criteria are:
- Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you are meant to.
- Wanting to cut down or quit but not being able to.
- Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use.
- Experiencing urges and cravings to use the substance.
- Not being able to fulfill work, home, or school obligations due to substance use.
- Continuing to use the substance even though it’s causing problems in relationships.
- Giving up important work, social, or recreational activities due to substance use.
- Using substances over and over even when it puts you in harm’s way.
- Continuing to use a substance even though you know you have a psychological or physical problem that may have been caused or worsened by the substance.
- Requiring more of a substance to get the effect you want.
- Developing withdrawal symptoms that can be relieved by using more of the substance.
Clinicians are able to specify how severe a person’s addiction is depending on how severe his symptoms are and how important his ideas are.
How Are SUDs Treated?Contact Us
While there is no cure for addiction, there are treatment options that can help you overcome an addiction and achieve lifelong recovery. Your treatment will depend on the drug used and any co-occurring medical or mental health disorders. Long-term follow-up also helps prevent relapse.
Addiction programs usually provide:
- Group, individual, and family therapy sessions
- Education on the nature of addiction, becoming substance-free, and preventing relapse
- Different levels of care in SC addiction treatment here at The Owl’s Nest vary depending on your needs. The addiction treatment program levels of care include:
The goal of detox is to help you stop using substances as quickly and safely as possible. For some people, detoxification can be accomplished on an outpatient basis. However, some substances can have life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, like heroin and alcohol, so a treatment center or hospital may be necessary.
Different categories of substances, such as depressants, opioids, or stimulants, produce different side effects and require different approaches to detox. A drug addiction detox may include gradually reducing the dose of substances. Methadone, buprenorphine, or a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone are sometimes used as forms of medication-assisted treatment during detox to treat withdrawal symptoms.