The difference between substance misuse and addiction is very slight. Substance misuse means using an illegal substance or using a legal substance in the wrong way. Addiction begins as misuse or using a substance like marijuana or cocaine.
You can misuse a drug without having an addiction. For example, just because someone smoked marijuana a few times doesn’t mean that person has an addiction, but it does mean that they are abusing a drug, and that could lead to an addiction.
Being physically addicted means a person’s body actually becomes dependent on a particular substance. It also means building tolerance to that substance, so that a person needs a larger dose than ever before to get the same effects. Someone who is physically addicted and stops using a substance like drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes may experience withdrawal symptoms. The common symptoms of withdrawal are diarrhea, shaking, and generally feeling awful.
Psychological addiction happens when the cravings for a drug or alcohol are psychological or emotional. People who are psychologically addicted feel overcome by the desire to have a drug. They may lie or steal to get it.
A person crosses the line between abuse and addiction when he or she is no longer trying the drug to have fun or get high, but rather has come to depend on it. His or her whole life centers around the need for the drug. An addicted person, whether it’s a physical or psychological addiction or both, no longer feels like there is a choice in using a substance.
Some of the signs of addiction include:
- changes in sleeping habits;
- feeling shaky or sick when trying to stop;
- needing to take more of the substance to get the same effect;
- changes in eating habits, including weight loss or gain;
- use of drugs or alcohol as a way to forget problems or to relax;
- withdrawal or keeping secrets from family and friends;
- loss of interest in activities that used to be important;
- anxiety, anger or depression;
- mood swings