What’s the difference between a substance abuse disorder, addiction, and disease? That’s a good question, and one we set out to determine. Although there are some different aspects of each, the results of our findings might enlighten you. Read on for more information.
Substance abuse can lead to addiction, a disease that can affect anyone no matter their age, lifestyle, ethnic background, profession or gender. People with substance abuse disorder cannot be categorized in any specific way. They can be rich or poor, educated or not. They can be white-collar professionals, blue-collar workers, or those who do not fit into those groups. They can have long or short hair or no hair at all.
People with substance abuse disorder can be short or tall or of average height.
They can be slim or heavy or of average weight. They don’t lack character or morals. All of these people have something in common, though.
The disease of addiction. Addiction is also called severe substance use disorder.
Here are some common terms used when discussing or reading about substance abuse:
Substance use: A less serious drug or alcohol use disorder in which substance use causes distress and problems. Addiction is the severe form of this. (Center on Addiction)
Addiction: A primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. (American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM))
Disease: A definite pathological process having a characteristic set of signs and symptoms. Disease is caused by extrinsic influences (e.g., virus, bacteria)
You can have a substance use disorder (SUD) to drugs or alcohol that leads to addiction (severe SUD). Addiction is a chronic brain disease in which continued use of the substance changes the reward system in the brain. It is a disease due to the characteristic signs and symptoms it presents.
Addiction affects a person’s brain and behavior when using drugs or alcohol that can lead to the inability to control drug or alcohol use to the detriment of the person and his or her life.
Symptoms can only be experienced by the addicted person. Signs are what other people observe of the addicted person. These are usually the same in both instances. Not all of the below have to be felt or seen to notate addiction. Some can be indicative of other life situations and not necessarily substance abuse addiction.
Many different aspects to a person’s life factor in when engaging in discussion if someone is addicted to substances. The most crucial thing to remember is that addiction is a chronic disease. It is chronic in the same way that diabetes and heart disease are – they are manageable, treatable, and need lifelong treatment that is adaptable.
The American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) relays the “ABCDEs” of addiction:
Is substance abuse a disease?
The answer is that it can be if someone shows signs of and experiences the symptoms of addiction. Addiction is the severe form of substance abuse disorder, and it is a chronic disease of the brain.
The good news is that substance abuse disorder and addiction can be treated and managed.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Delphi Behavioral Health Group can provide the necessary treatment and support that you or a loved one needs to get sober.
Center on Addiction. Addiction as a Disease from https://www.centeronaddiction.org/what-addiction/addiction-disease
Substance Abuse Disorder from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112
Verywellmind.com. Signs and Symptoms of Addiction. Hartney, Elizabeth PhD September 22, 2018. Retrieved April 2019 from https://www.verywellmind.com/symptoms-of-addiction-22244
Verywellmind.com. The 11 Official Criteria for Addiction/Substance Abuse Disorder. Hartney, Elizabeth PhD. December 18, 2018 from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-official-criteria-for-addiction-22493
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Understanding Drug Use and Addiction. Revised June 2018. Retrieved April 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction
American Society of Addiction of Addiction Medicine. Resources. Definition of Addiction. Retrieved April 2019 from https://www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction