When labelling someone as a ‘drug abuser’ or as a ‘drug addict’, what many people fail to understand is that these two terms do not have the same meaning.

A drug abuser is someone who uses and abuses drugs and still be able live a ‘normal’ life without ever becoming addicted, while a drug addict is someone who has become physically dependent on the use of that substance, and continue to use it regardless of the negative effects it causes.

To determine if someone is a drug abuser or a drug addicted is not as difficult as it may seem. drug abuse from drug addiction.

Medical professionals have created guidelines with which they are able to determine whether a person is a ‘drug abuser’ or a ‘drug addict’. Below, we shall discuss what symptoms define the two terms.

When determining whether someone is a drug abuser, some of the drug abuse symptoms that addiction treatment consultants look for (usually over a 12 month period) are if the individual fails to meet basic commitments such as work or school or anything that has become part of their everyday life.
More drug abuse symptoms would be the engaging in wrongdoings such as driving under the influence of the substance that they are addicted to and continuous use of it regardless of what personal problems (quarrels with loved ones, pressure at work) they might have.

An abuser might not be aware of their drug abuse symptoms; however these problems usually become visible once the abuse problem progresses into addiction.
Because a drug addict is dependent (physically and mentally) on the drug they use, the severity of the situation is worse than someone who just abuses drugs.
Someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol has a much higher tolerance, as the individual physically needs more and more of the substance to become intoxicated.
When the drug is unavailable, the person will suffer psychological and /or physical withdrawal symptoms.

The behaviour of a drug addict is far different to that of an abuser as often the person cannot stop once they have begun to use the drug and this leads to neglected responsibilities at work and home.

Exceeding personal limits that have been set is an indication of this ‘loss of control’ Drug abusers can often set limits and stick to them. If you or a loved one set a limit and continually exceed that limit this would indicate a loss of control.

This loss of control is one of the key diagnostic criteria to be determined a drug addict or alcoholic.
An addict will also decrease their time spent on other activities such as work or family time to increase their time for obtaining or using the drug.

This ever reducing time spent on social activities like hobbies or with family and friends is another key indicator that the drug abuse has progressed into a full blown drug addiction and that professional help is needed.
When people continue to use drugs or alcohol regardless of the negative effects it has on their:

  • Physical health – problems caused or made worse through drink or drugs
  • work or studies,
  • finances,
  • family,