1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Are You Addicted?

The Difference Between Abuse and Addiction

By

Updated June 23, 2014

Cocaine User

Cocaine Use

Clipart.com
Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted, but substance abuse can cause problems for individuals whether they are technically addicted or not. There are different levels of substance abuse, and all of them can be dangerous.

Substance Abuse Disorder: Using drugs or other substances becomes abusive and categorized as a "disorder" when the use begins to cause continuing or growing problems in the user's life. These problems include missing work or school, driving under the influence, legal problems, and problems with friends or family relationships.

Chemical Dependency: Dependency usually becomes noticeable in substance abusers when they continue their pattern of drug use in spite of incurring significant problems in their lives. Some signs of chemical dependency include spending more time on drug-seeking behavior, withdrawing from society and activities, an increased tolerance to the substance, unsuccessful attempts to quit, withdrawal symptoms during abstinence or reduced intake, and continuing use in spite of negative consequences.

Chemical Addiction: Addiction can best be described as a compulsive continued use of a drug or substance and a complete inability to stop. An addict is a person who is controlled by a drug or substance.

Do You Have a Problem?

If you think that you may have developed a drug or addiction problem, you might want to take this confidential online Drug Abuse Screening Quiz to determine if you may need to seek help.

The following questions were written by recovering addicts in Narcotics Anonymous and published in NA's brochure "Am I an Addict?" If you have doubts about whether or not you’re an addict, take a few moments to read the questions below and answer them as honestly as you can.

  • Do you ever use alone?
  • Have you ever substituted one drug for another, thinking that one particular drug was the problem?
  • Have you ever manipulated or lied to a doctor to obtain prescription drugs?
  • Have you ever stolen drugs or stolen to obtain drugs?
  • Do you regularly use a drug when you wake up or when you go to bed?
  • Have you ever taken one drug to overcome the effects of another?
  • Do you avoid people or places that do not approve of you using drugs?
  • Have you ever used a drug without knowing what it was or what it would do to you?
  • Has your job or school performance ever suffered from the effects of your drug use?
  • Have you ever been arrested as a result of using drugs?
  • Have you ever lied about what or how much you use?
  • Do you put the purchase of drugs ahead of your financial responsibilities?
  • Have you ever tried to stop or control your using?
  • Have you ever been in a jail, hospital, or drug rehabilitation center because of your using?
  • Does using interfere with your sleeping or eating?
  • Does the thought of running out of drugs terrify you?
  • Do you feel it is impossible for you to live without drugs?
  • Do you ever question your own sanity?
  • Is your drug use making life at home unhappy?
  • Have you ever thought you couldn’t fit in or have a good time without drugs?
  • Have you ever felt defensive, guilty, or ashamed about your using?
  • Do you think a lot about drugs?
  • Have you had irrational or indefinable fears?
  • Has using affected your sexual relationships?
  • Have you ever taken drugs you didn’t prefer?
  • Have you ever used drugs because of emotional pain or stress?
  • Have you ever overdosed on any drugs?
  • Do you continue to use despite negative consequences?
  • Do you think you might have a drug problem?
If you answered yes to some of the above questions, you may want to seek further evaluation. Please see our sections on Getting Help and Drug Treatment FAQs for more information.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Alcoholism
  4. About Drug Abuse
  5. Are You Addicted?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.