Substance abuse begins when someone takes a substance to change the way they feel currently. Everyone knows what kind of damage illegal substances like heroin
, crack cocaine and methamphetamine can do, but prescription drugs can also be abused when people use them for non-medical reasons or outside of the amount they are prescribed.
Although drug addiction and drug abuse are closely linked, there is a difference between the two conditions. For instance, if someone doesn’t only abuses drugs three or four times a year, they may show signs of drug abuse but not addiction. However, if someone regularly abuses a substance and makes their entire life about using and obtaining the substance, that person shows signs of addiction.
Even when a prescription drug is prescribed for a medical reason, sometimes patients can become chemically dependent on the drug – especially opiates or benzodiazepines. While there is a difference between a drug dependence and a drug addiction, these two conditions often go together as well.