When we are talking about addiction abuse, what are we really referring to? It helps to define our terms.
Abuse is generally not the same thing as addiction, but it can certainly lead someone into addiction. If you are abusing drugs or alcohol then it just means that you are using them in an abusive manner….meaning that you are taking quantities that go beyond casual or therapeutic use of the drug.
For example, a person having a glass of wine with their dinner is casual use. If they have 4 glasses of wine then this is probably abuse.
Or, say someone is prescribed a painkiller for pain they are having, and it says to take one pill up to 3 times per day. They find they are taking more than 3 pills per day or trying to sneak in an extra one here or there, then trying to justify it to themselves. This is also pushing the lines of abuse. Before they know it they are running out of their prescription early or taking as much as double what the recommended dosage is.
Now many people can abuse drugs and alcohol and get away with it without developing a full blown addiction. A good example of this is with college students who tend to drink heavily during their college years, but then go on to lead a normal life without becoming an alcoholic. They were engaged in heavy drug abuse but did not develop full blown addiction.
On the other hand, chronic drug or alcohol abuse is basically playing with fire. If you want to risk becoming addicted to drugs, then falling into a pattern of abusing them every day is a great way to do it. Pretty much anyone who is in recovery from addiction can look back and see a long pattern of abuse that led them up to becoming fully addicted. No one is immune to developing drug addiction and many times people do not develop their addiction until later in life.
In other words, drug addiction is always preceded by drug abuse. Always. There is a chance that a person can abuse chemicals and not become addicted, but is that really a risk worth taking? Avoid abusing drugs and alcohol and you can ultimately avoid addiction. For most of us, this information is too little too late, as we have already progressed past abuse and into addiction.
But it can still be a useful rule of thumb for other areas of our life outside of chemical dependency. Don’t abuse, or you risk addiction. This might apply to gambling, food, sex, or anything else that people can become addicted to. Always be on guard against patterns of abuse in your life, because they can easily lead to addiction.
If you determine that you are abusing alcohol or other drugs, my recommendation is that you seek counseling or therapy, and make sure that you are completely honest with the person.
If, on the other hand, you determine that you are addicted, then I suggest that you seek detox and/or inpatient drug rehab.
Whatever you do, do NOT just continue on and do nothing about your problem. This is the worse course of action you can take. Do something.