What’s The Difference Between Substance Use Disorder & Addiction?

what-s-the-difference-between-substance-use-disorder-&-addiction

What’s The Difference Between Substance Use Disorder & Addiction?

There is a common misconception that the terms “substance use disorder” and “addiction” are interchangeable. While these terms are related, they have different meanings and implications. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between substance use disorder and addiction, their symptoms, and the implications of these distinctions for treatment and recovery.

Understanding the nuances between these two terms can help us better support those affected and promote a more informed, compassionate conversation around the topic.

Substance Use Disorder – A Broader Concept

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a medical condition characterized by a pattern of using substances, such as alcohol, opioids, or other drugs, that leads to significant impairment or distress. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies SUDs based on the substance being used and the severity of the disorder (mild, moderate, or severe).

SUDs are diagnosed when an individual meets at least two of the following criteria within a 12-month period:

  • Using larger amounts or using for a longer time than intended.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control use.
  • Spending a lot of time seeking, using, or recovering from the effects of the substance.
  • Cravings or strong desires to use the substance.
  • Recurrent use that results in a failure to fulfill major responsibilities at school, work, or home.
  • Continued use despite social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the substance.
  • Giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.
  • Recurrent use in physically hazardous situations.
  • Continued use despite knowledge of physical or psychological problems caused or exacerbated by the substance.
  • Tolerance or the need for increasing amounts to achieve the desired effect.
  • Withdrawal or experiencing symptoms when the substance is not used.

Addiction: A Subset of Substance Use Disorders

Addiction, on the other hand, is a term often used to describe the most severe form of substance use disorder. It is characterized by a compulsive and uncontrollable need to use a substance despite negative consequences. The term “addiction” is not a formal diagnosis in the DSM-5 but is commonly used in everyday language to describe the behavior and consequences associated with severe SUDs.

Addiction involves changes in the brain’s pleasure and reward systems, which can make it difficult for an individual to stop using the substance without medical intervention. These brain changes often result in the following symptoms:

  • Loss of control: Inability to control the amount or frequency of substance use.
  • Compulsive use: Engaging in substance use despite the negative consequences it may cause.
  • Cravings: Intense urges to use the substance that may be hard to resist.
  • Tolerance and withdrawal: A need for increasing amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effect and experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not used.

The Implications for Treatment and Recovery

Understanding the difference between substance use disorder and addiction is crucial for effective treatment and recovery. While all individuals with SUDs may benefit from some form of intervention, the severity of the disorder, and the presence of addiction, can greatly influence the type of treatment needed.

For mild to moderate SUDs, treatment may involve outpatient therapy, support groups, or medication-assisted treatment. In more severe cases, where addiction is present, a comprehensive approach that includes inpatient rehabilitation, medication-assisted treatment, and long-term aftercare may be necessary.

It’s essential to recognize that both SUDs and addiction are treatable conditions. With appropriate support, individuals can achieve lasting recovery and improve their overall quality of life.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, while substance use disorder and addiction are related concepts, they are not synonymous terms. Substance use disorder is a medical diagnosis that encompasses a range of severity levels, while addiction is often used to describe the most severe form of SUD, characterized by compulsive and uncontrollable substance use that causes severe impairment and distress.

Understanding the nuances between these terms is crucial for effective treatment and recovery, as the severity of the condition and the presence of addiction can greatly influence the type of intervention needed.

Awareness and education are key to removing the stigma surrounding substance use disorders and addiction. By promoting a more informed and compassionate conversation around this topic, we can better support those affected and encourage them to seek the help they need. Recovery is possible, and with appropriate treatment and support, individuals can overcome the challenges of SUDs and addiction, ultimately leading to a healthier and more fulfilling life.

If you are interested in learning more about ketamine for substance use disorder in Cherry Hill, NJ, contact Initia Nova Medical Solutions and request your consultation today.

Share Now :