Although drug addiction usually involves drug abuse, both terms are not interchangeable. One of the more glaring differences being that a person who abuses drugs can willfully stop while a drug addict would often require external help to help them fight their addiction.

What is Drug Abuse?

Drug abuse involves the indiscriminate use of illegal or even legal substances without respect to dosage or a Doctor’s prescription. Abuse might entail using another person’s prescription or taking more than the prescribed dose in order to relieve stress, feel better, or avoid facing reality. Even though drug abuse can be dangerous to health, it is an unhealthy habit that can be changed or stopped altogether.

What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction, on the other hand, happens when it becomes impossible to stop using. Even when it hurts important things like health, finances, and relationships, drug problems can also cause difficulties for the loved ones of an addict, yet they’re unable to quit.

Instead, the urge to use drugs is constant and overshadows all other feelings.

person in black hoody.

Signs And Symptoms of Drug Addiction on Body And Brain

Some of the signs and symptoms that indicate addiction or unhealthy drug use are:

  • Being unable to stop. Drug addicts often experience withdrawal symptoms (fall ill) when they try to quit.
  • Substance abuse and addictions can cause a disregard for personal hygiene and a lack of self-care.
  • Always ensuring that the drug of choice is available, even when other more important needs have to be forfeited.
  • Lying and stealing to acquire the drug. Also, engaging in dangerous activities like unprotected sex or driving under the influence of drugs.
  • Abusing drugs might lead to a change in friends, or an increased desire for loneliness in order to indulge the drug habit.
  • Frequent bloody noses and bloodshot eyes
  • Tremors, shakes and slurred speech
  • Financial problems or recurring need for money
  • Increased agitation, irritability, and a lack of motivation. A noticeable change in personality or behavior.

Effects of Drug Addiction

One compelling reason why you shouldn’t do drugs is that it can alter the brain’s chemical circuits and systems. Long term drug use can adversely affect one’s memory, judgment, ability to make decisions, and learn.

How do Drugs Affect the Brain?

Drugs can affect the processing, sending, and receiving of signals by the neurons. They do this by attaching to and mimicking the natural neurotransmitters in the brain. For instance, certain drugs flood the brain with dopamine, which is a feel-good chemical that is released by the brain’s reward center. Because dopamine triggers a feeling of intense pleasure, the craving for this intense feeling or high translates into a craving for drugs.

Why are Drugs Addictive?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugs are addictive because they’re able to trick the brain’s reward center into releasing dopamine, which is a feel-good hormone that reinforces good behavior. As earlier stated, drugs flood the brain with dopamine, which gives the individual that high or euphoric feeling. But it doesn’t just end there. Substance abuse and addiction are worsened over time as the brain adjusts to the excess dopamine, a process known as building tolerance. To get that same high feeling, an increased quantity of the drug is required.

This constant increment may eventually lead to an overdose, which occurs when a person takes a quantity that cannot be easily detoxified by their metabolism to avert unwanted side effects.

What Are Typical Overdose Symptoms?

Drug overdose might occur when people abuse drugs. It might be by intentional misuse or accidental overuse. The increased craving effects of drugs on the brain can also lead to an overdose. Some typical overdose symptoms include:

  • Increased, decreased, or completely absent vital signs.
  • Confusion, sleepiness, and coma.
  • Cool and sweaty or hot and dry skin
  • Shallow, deep, rapid, or slow breathing.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal and chest pain
  • Aspiration
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

What Are The Common Ways Of Substance Abuse Recovery?

Recovery from drug abuse and addiction is possible. Some of the common ways of substance abuse recovery are:

  • Learning and building better-coping methods for stress.
  • Rebuilding close relationships with friends and family. Re-establishing mutual respect and trust.
  • Becoming part of an addiction recovery support group.
  • Physical exercise
  • Meditation