Understanding the difference between drug abuse vs. misuse is extremely important. What many people consider “misusing drugs” could cause them to quickly slip into abuse and possible addiction without them ever noticing until it’s taken over. This brief article explains the difference between drug abuse vs. drug misuse, the dangers of both, and which can lead to addiction.
What is Drug Abuse?
Drug abuse, or substance abuse, involves taking an illicit or prescription medication with the intention of getting “high.” For instance, an individual might consume more than their recommended single dose of oxycodone to alleviate pain and induce euphoria. Alternatively, individuals might continue taking prescription medication long after their symptoms have subsided to experience a sensation of being high.
Other instances of drug abuse include taking medication that wasn’t prescribed to you, such as stealing pills from a family member’s or friend’s medicine cabinet. Drug abuse also includes buying and using illicit drugs on the street, such as fake prescription medication, cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine, or heroin. Even though some substances are legal and abusing drugs like cannabis or psilocybin mushrooms doesn’t lead to physical dependence, the impact on your psychological and mental health can leave lasting, life-changing side effects even after you’ve quit abusing them.
Dangers of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse can lead to severe and life-changing side effects. For example:
- Cocaine is highly addictive and is involved in almost one in five overdose deaths. Abusing cocaine can also lead to severe nasal damage, asthma, bowel and stomach issues, and an increased risk of consuming laced or fatal drugs like fentanyl.
- Methamphetamine is highly addictive, and users can begin to abuse it even after their first try. Meth can increase anxiety, confusion, insomnia, paranoia, irritability, and aggression. Additionally, it can lead to sores, gum, teeth, and throat damage, as well as scabs, abscesses, and other lesions.
- Abusing prescription and illicit opioids like heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone can lead to addiction and overdose. Constant opioid abuse can also lead to confusion, nausea, brain damage, and physical and psychological dependence.
- Even though cannabis is legal in more and more states, some studies link marijuana use to negative mental health outcomes, including increased rates of anxiety, depression, and psychological dependence.
What Is Drug Misuse?
Drug misuse involves taking prescription or over-the-counter medications without following medical guidelines but not intending to get “high.” For example, someone might take more than their recommended dose of sleep medication if their first dose was ineffective. But this might cause them to become delirious or confused when they originally intended to sleep quicker.
Another example includes offering a friend your prescribed medication to help them with something they’re experiencing, such as Xanax for anxiety, Adderall for motivation, or OxyContin for pain relief. Other examples include:
- Taking a medication at the wrong time
- Skipping medication
- Quitting or lowering your prescribed dosage without or against medical advice.
Dangers of Drug Misuse
Drug misuse may be unintentional but can easily lead to both dangerous side effects and abuse, which can lead to addiction. For example:
- Misusing or taking the incorrect amount of prescribed medication can increase the chance of experiencing side effects. For example, taking the incorrect amount of oxycodone can lead to constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, headaches, swearing, and vomiting. It can also lead to seizures, hallucinations, respiratory depression, and even death.
- Misusing drugs can also lead to abuse rapidly. If someone takes Adderall to feel motivated before a test or assignment and enjoys the experience, it can quickly become a routine to use Adderall whenever they want to focus on a task. This can lead to the development of tolerance and dependence, making it challenging to focus on tasks without stimulants. This can also lead to lying to doctors to receive a prescription or buying it illegally from drug dealers.
Which Has A Higher Chance Of Leading To Addiction?
Both drug abuse and misuse have a high likelihood of leading to addiction. Misusing prescription medication can cause users to experience heightened energy or euphoria beyond the medication’s original purpose and the individual’s intention. This can result in cravings for the same level or type of drug, leading individuals to seek it out through doctors, dealers, or theft from others. When someone starts abusing a highly addictive drug, such as meth or heroin, their body can stop functioning at the same level without it. Once dependency sets in and an individual no longer sees any other purpose in life besides obtaining and using drugs, addiction takes over.
Contact Oasis Recovery Center
If you or someone you know is abusing or misusing illicit or prescription medication, contact Oasis Recovery Center in Asheville, NC, today! Our addiction treatment center is perfect for overcoming addictive and life-changing substances through evidence-based, comprehensive, and holistic therapy methods. Our clients are treated with respect and compassion, acknowledging that each individual is different and requires their own unique needs. Call today, and one of our admissions agents can get you started or answer preliminary questions about our center, accepted insurance, and more.