Drug Abuse

What is the difference between drug use and drug abuse?

Sounds like GD territory to me but I’d say that when the cost outweighs the benefit you are in abuse territory. YMMV depending on political/religious/national affiliation.

If you are at a point where you wonder which applies to you, you are likely abusing.

There is also somewhat of a difference between abuse and dependence. Participating in a game of beer pong or taking 5 or more drinks in a night is considered an example of abuse. Feeling as though you need the substance to study, be at a party, sleep, have fun, deal with your family, etc are good examples of dependence.

If you have been using a substance for some time, say over 3 months, in an abusive or dependent way, I would STRONGLY suggest consulting a professional before attempting to quit on your own. Alcohol withdrawal can and does kill, as well as cause fun things like hallucinations and seizures, even if consumed in what you may think are small doseages for a period of time.

This also goes for benzodiazapines (valium, ativan, xanax, etc).

Withdrawal from coke and opiates won’t kill, but you’ll wish it did. However, there are a lot of good things on the market for withdrawal- we’ve come a long way from methadone.

In short- if it’s a function of your regular day or activities, and you find yourself thinking about when your next hit/drink/ shot/pill will be, you are in trouble my friend.

This might help:

Abuse vs. use vs. dependence:

Another definition of use could be theraputic use, as in the I.V. drip they gave me after my partial hysterectomy, and the codeine prescription they gave me for when I was at home. I followed the doctor’s instructions, so my use of the pain medicine didn’t cross the line into abuse.

I think DV’s answer hits the nail on the head. The terms are used interchangebly by people who do not wish to make that distinction. Often, it is when they are referring to a particular substance. That is where the problem occurs, because the issue is not the material that is consumed, but the effect on the individual. This has led to campaigns to stamp out drugs as opposed to educating people (here’s why the question is probably better placed in GD). Alcohol is a perfect example. We are all familiar with social drinking. Many people are quite capable of having one or two drinks, maybe once a week or less. It may act as a perfectly wonderful social lubricant, making awkward social circumstances just slightly more tolerable, and easing the way to more comfortable interactions for what would be otherwise terribly uncomfortable folks. On the other hand, that same substance might, in someone else’s body, prompt the taking of another, and then another, until that person, filled with all sorts of great courage and bravery, might just finally take that gun and deal with that goddammed sumbitch landlord after all. One person has used alcohol. One has abused it. Some do it habitually. Some do it almost involunarily. Regardless. There’s a wide gulf between use and abuse and the difference is the cost/benefit calculation. (stepping down from the box now) xo, C.

I don’t know where the word “dependence” came into play. I’m simply wondering where the line is drawn for a doctor to distinguish between the two. Say I used coke (which I don’t!) every other week. Holw about every week? Every day? How does someone distinguish beween the two?

I’d suggest the same answer. How does the money spent affect your budget? Any significant impact? How about your health? Does your nose show any effects? Your blood pressure? Neuromuscular responses? Gastrointestinal? etc. Behavioral changes? Changing any daily habits in order to get your coke? Changing any thinking? Concentration? etc. In other words, if it’s interfering with your ability to carry on your normal routines, it may be exacting a greater and greater psychological or emotional cost. Physically, it may be affecting you. Are the costs beginning to mount? Are the benefits diminishing in relation to what you’re spending? At some point, if the benefits are diminishing in comparison to the costs it’s extracting from you, it’s no longer simple drug use. As the balance tips, so does the calculus move from drug use to drug abuse.

Okay, I guess what I’m asking is if there’s a definite line drawn or if it’s left more to opinion. For instance HIV positive people with a CD4 positive T cell count of less than 200 per µl of blood have AIDS. The line is 200. Is there a line for cocaine abuse?

I do not know of any medical or mental health professional that has an “acceptable” level of cocaine use. Especially considering it is one of the most addictive substances out there.

So does that mean that there is no difference between cocaine use and cocaine abuse?

Pretty much. Unless you are talking about eye surgery, where there is a legit medical use.

Otherwise, no.

Remembering, of course, that cocaine abuse & dependence (addiction) are different animals, especially in the DSM-IV, which is where I as a mental health professional would be diagnosing you from.

My eyes are fine. My mileage differs.

Just remember a septum is a terrible thing to waste.

So is hard earned money on cocaine. Personally I think it’s stupid. I also don’t think that idiots who waste 75 bucks once in a blue moon are abusers. As a mental health practitioner, your perspective is perhaps skewed by the fact that you only see the folks who have bottomed out. I’m an auto worker. I see folks for whom use is abuse and I see folks who just like to kick it once in a while. Use does not categorically equal abuse except in eye surgery (or glaucoma if you like a puff)

You are remarkably judgemental in regards to who goes to visit various flavors of counselors.

And also about who is using coke.

But hey, it’s your group of friends. :dubious:

I think you’re reading too much into my observations (an occupational hazzard?). I was in no way judging who goes to what counselor for whatever reason, I was merely offering my opinions based on my own experiences. I wasn’t speaking particularly about my group of friends but about the relatively monied blue collar people (some 1500 of them) that I work with. I believe that I see a broader cross section of regular people who despite their flaws, pecadillos, or joneses would be offended (nah they’d just laugh) at the black and white lines that you have drawn. Feigning an addiction is also a time honoured way to avoid termination for chronic absenteeism. No offense but I work with people (I’m not friends with them mind you but the code of solidarity makes me one with them) that play people in your profession like a violin. You seem to be a very dedicated, caring professional. I also think you are naive as all hell.

Stop hijacking the thread. Either move your debate to MPSIMS or email me off-board (email in profile).

This could be an interesting conversation, but not in this particular thread. I’m happy to follow you elsewhere or continue off-board if you wish.

I think the short answer is when you use a substance for something other than its intended purpose - like to get high - then you are abusing.