Substance Use vs Addiction
Substance use can refer to the use of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol and drugs (both prescription and illegal). It is perfectly acceptable to have a glass of wine on occasion, and of course, to take prescription medication under the advice of a medical professional. It becomes a problem when it is difficult to stop or is causing harm to oneself or to others; this substance use problem can then lead to an addiction. When people use substances or activities to escape or change the way they feel, using can become a habit which can be hard to break.
Definition of Addiction
Addiction is a complex problem that affects an individual’s physical and mental health, as well as their family members, friends and their work or school life. Addiction may refer to a substance dependence (e.g. alcohol addiction) or a psychological dependency/behavioral addiction (e.g. gambling addiction). In true addiction, a person becomes dependent upon a particular kind of stimulation (eg drugs, sex, gambling) to the point where obtaining a steady supply of that stimulation becomes the person’s main focus. People may come to rely on the effects of the substance or activity to bring short-term relief from difficult or painful feelings, and to make problems seem less important.
No one deliberately sets out to become addicted to a substance or an activity; most addictions develop over a period of time and become progressively worse. Addictions cross all social, racial and financial barriers and affect people from adolescence to retirement.
Common Types of Addiction:
Some Signs and Symptoms of Substance Addiction:
- Cannot stop taking the substance even when attempts to stop have been made.
- Withdrawal – when not receiving the substance, signs of withdrawal include moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, insomnia, trembling, seizures, hallucinations and sweats.
- Excessive consumption of substance; keeping stashes
- Secrecy & solitude – hiding use or substances
- Denial – being unaware of a problem or refusing to admit to a problem
- Difficulties with the law, with finances, with relationships
- Behavioural and personality changes that are unusual, sudden or unpredictable
- Irritability, hostility or anger outbursts