The Difference Between Substance Use and Substance Abuse

substance use abuseSubstance use and abuse are two entirely different things. People often think they can be used interchangeably, but this is not the case. Substance use can be entirely harmless. It is a way of referring to the responsible use of a recreational or medicinal substance, such as drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. Substance abuse, on the other hand, refers to an irresponsible use of a recreational or medicinal substance, such as driving under the influence of marijuana. The differences between the two are not subjective. It is true that there is a gray area that makes it more difficult to distinguish between the two, but they are inherently different things.

Examples of substance use can range from taking a prescribed medication according to the doctor’s orders to having no more than one glass of wine per day. It essentially means that, whatever amount of a substance the experts have determined is good for a person is all that is being consumed by the person in question. According to everything we know about medical and mental health, proper quantities and dosages of the substance are being consumed.

Substance abuse, on the other hand, cannot claim this kind of responsibility. The terminology speaks for itself. An abuse of anything means it is not being handled correctly and the mistreatment is causing harm. The harm being caused by substance abuse may fall on the substance abuser or on the people in the substance abusers life, and often falls on both. The harm is due to excessive consumption of the substance to the point that it is doing physical and mental damage. A substance abuser defies scientific opinions about how much of the substance should be used and uses it recklessly, often damaging their health, relationships, reputation and finances.

Substance use is, obviously, the smarter option and substance abuse is, obviously, the worse option. Substances with powerful effects on the body and the mind are not meant to be used frivolously. They can have very serious long term consequences on those who abuse them. Anyone who uses these types of substances should always research expert opinions on how to use them and take the information seriously.

The Rehab Selection Process

rehab choices

A need has arisen to use the services of a rehabilitation program. Now what? Where do you start? Who do you contact? How do you find the right program? You may feel daunted by the task of selecting the right rehabilitation center for yourself or a loved one. Do not be afraid! There is plenty of information available to assist you in your decision making. When you are searching for the rehab center that best meets your needs, consider the following:

  • Price range. The cost of treatment is inevitably the deciding factor for some. Rehabilitation programs range in price quite a bit, all the way from government funded, low income rehabs to luxury, executive rehabs. Good quality rehabilitation can be found for every type of budget, but one must do their research. Poor quality substance abuse treatment can also be found to suit every budget.
  • Individual and group sessions. Every good treatment program will offer its clients some individual counseling as well as some group therapy. It is important to have a mix of both because they offer unique benefits to clients by learning from an expert and by learning from each other.
  • Licensed. A rehabilitation center should be licensed, credible and able to present a record of successful cases to its would be clients. When you are considering potential rehab centers, remember to ask for credentials!
  • Relevant to your needs. The rehab center you choose should be able to address your individual problems. Everyone comes from unique backgrounds and the reasons for your substance abuse are deeply rooted. A professional rehabilitation center will employ staff who have many areas of specialty and emphasis, including anger and stress management, boundary setting and co-occurring disorders.
  • Atmosphere, treatment style and recreation. The rehab you attend should appeal to you. Does the atmosphere you will be surrounded in make you feel safe and welcome? Does the treatment style and the approaches the staff takes make sense to you? Do you find the recreational activities they offer enjoyable? The answer should be yes to all of these questions.

Why People Abuse Substances

substance abuse

It is a well known fact that substance abuse is a universal trend. People of all nations, ethnicity and demographics have been found to overuse pleasurable substances. Whatever is considered a healthy amount of use by experts, people are known to multiply it to an unreasonable extent and overindulge in the substance even to the point of putting themselves and others in danger. In observing these behaviors, it seems that it would be obvious to everyone not to engage in them. Then why is substance abuse such a common problem? The reasons are varied.

Substance abuse can be a psychological problem. A person may over use substances such as drugs and alcohol to numb a mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression, or a past trauma, or stress and anger management issues. Indulging in substances allow people to escape temporarily from reality by altering their perception, making them a very popular and desirable way of coping. If this practice is sporadic and reserved for rare occasions, it is generally harmless. But if someone truly begins to depend on a substance in order to cope with life, chances are they are making a substance abuse problem out of a psychological problem.

Substance abuse can also be an environmental problem, meaning the substance abuser was heavily influenced by one person or multiple people who were also substance abusers. This is a very common cause of a substance abuse problem. People from everywhere emulate what they see their elders doing and very often grow up to do the same things. Substance abuse is frequently a learned behavior.

And lastly, substance abuse can be attributed to some people’s biologies. People are diagnosed with conditions of mysterious origins – chronic pain conditions, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders – with symptoms that are not always manageable. People will often try to manage the symptoms of their conditions on their own, by turning to illicit or recreational drugs and alcohol. Or, they will begin to abuse their prescription medications and take them in excess. Substances can provide people with enjoyment, relaxation and relief, but when they are used to excess and begin to cause new problems, they are a substance abuse issue.