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Substance Abuse Versus Substance Addiction

Although many of us assume substance addiction and substance abuse imply the same meaning, these two terms actually present two different kinds of substance use issues that need addressed by professional addiction therapists. Learn about what substance addiction and substance abuse really mean and where you or a loved one can receive substance abuse treatment in Bakersfield, CA.

Denise's Story

Denise struggled with alcohol and opioid painkiller substance abuse before starting treatment at Synergy Recovery Services. A combination of Buprenorphine (Suboxone) and IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) treatment, along with tough love by her daughter is what helped her beat her addiction.


Substance Abuse Treatment vs. Substance Addiction Treatment — What’s the Difference?

At our Bakersfield substance abuse clinic, we offer a practical, research-driven combination of psychosocial counseling and prescription medications to help substance abusers avoid addiction to drugs, alcohol or both. Unlike substance addiction treatment, substance abuse treatment does not involve hospitalization for the purpose of detoxing. Since substance abusers have not yet reached the point of suffering severe and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, they require minimal, if any, detoxification assistance.

Synergy Recovery Services offers substance abuse help in Bakersfield, CA on an outpatient basis, meaning clients can sleep in their own homes at night and return to our facility during daytime hours for group and individual counseling. Outpatient clients will also regularly visit a doctor specializing in addiction medicine and receive mental health services if needed.

What Is Substance Abuse?

Central to explaining the difference between substance abuse and substance addiction is the physiological development of tolerance and withdrawal. Substance abusers won’t have a high tolerance for their drug of choice nor will they suffer withdrawal symptoms when they abstain from using.

According to the DSM-IV, typical drug or alcohol abusers experience intermittent but recurring “trouble” due to “recreational binges.” This is in contrast to someone suffering an addiction, who exhibits a “compulsive, continuous” pattern of substance use fueled by increasing tolerance to addictive substances and repeated manifestations of withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t using.

Characteristics of a substance abuser include:

  • Being able to “take it or leave it,” i.e., substance abusers do not crave drugs like addicts and do not suffer painful withdrawal symptoms if they don’t get high or drunk every day. At this stage, substance abuse is a voluntary action, not an addiction.
  • Never learning from mistakes made during a bender or binge. For example, substance abusers may get arrested for drunk driving or disorderly conduct once out of every five separate drinking binges but continue to abuse alcohol anyway.
  • Believing they will never become addicted to drugs or alcohol because they can quit whenever they want. Substance abusers rely on drugs/alcohol for having a good time and often justify their use as a way to “relax” after working all week. They feel like they are entitled to get high, drunk or both, regardless of the fact they are more likely than not to encounter trouble with law enforcement while “relaxing.”

What substance abusers fail to realize is that their nonchalant attitude towards using addictive substances is the first step towards actual substance dependence and addiction. The dividing line between substance abuse and substance addiction is obscured even further when periodic binging insidiously turns into overwhelming and destructive cravings. Getting substance abuse help in Bakersfield, CA is essential to stop an inevitable addiction before it consumes your life or the life of a loved one.

Substance Addiction and Treatment

An addiction does not happen from taking one drink or one hit off a meth pipe. Reinforcement of an addiction takes time for the brain to develop a tolerance for an addictive substance. When the brain finally does become addicted, it will cause the addict to endure unrelenting cravings as withdrawal symptoms make them feel terribly sick, panic-stricken and desperate.

Breaking down the evolution of an addiction begins with someone entering an experimentation phase where they may try a variety of drugs before finding their favorite. Experimentation is quickly followed by recreational/substance abuse, which is then just as quickly taken over by an addiction.

An addict is consumed by:

  • Thinking about getting high or drunk all the time
  • Using addictive substances daily
  • Constantly searching for dependable drug suppliers/other users who can provide them with drugs 24/7
  • Suffering withdrawal symptoms for the first time
  • Needing more and more alcohol or drugs to achieve the kind of high your brain and body need to avoid withdrawal
  • Resorting to criminal activities to support an expensive habit
  • Spending hundreds of dollars a day on addictive substances
  • Losing job after job because of an addiction
  • Trying to stop using drugs or alcohol but failing every time
  • Becoming homeless or chronically incarcerated due to an addiction

Preventing or beating an addiction starts with getting professional, caring substance abuse and addiction treatment in Bakersfield, CA.

Not sure if you’re struggling with substance abuse and addiction? Click the button below to take our free Addiction Test.

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Bakersfield Substance Abuse Help Is Available Today

Taking that first step towards addressing a substance abuse problem will probably be the most difficult action you or a loved one will ever take. If you are currently abusing an addictive substance, finally admitting to yourself that you have a serious problem means you possess the courage and determination to confront your substance abuse problem and a future full of unknown possibilities. Making the choice to pursue a sober life instead of a life addicted to drugs and alcohol will give you hope and aspirations for a meaningful life. Try it now and find out how different you feel!

Professional support for a substance abuse problem is always available and waiting for you to take advantage of at Synergy Recovery Services. You’ll also have family members, close friends and peers in support groups who all want to help you complete our personalized outpatient program. We have licensed therapists and counselors who provide caring and insightful help for mental health issues as well.

Start taking control of your life today by calling 661-878-9930 and speaking to an understanding staff member who can tell you what to expect from our substance abuse treatment program.

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