Use, Misuse, and Abuse

There are a number of different terms associated with substance use and substance use disorder. Distinguishing between substance use, substance misuse, and substance abuse can be a key component to education.

Substance use is as simple as it sounds: using drugs and alcohol. This would include any kind of alcohol, marijuana, heroin, prescription opiates, or cocaine.

Substance misuse is used to show the difference between healthy substance use such as drinking in moderation and unhealthy use such as drinking in excess or “binge” drinking. The word “misuse” can refer to a lot of things, including: using prescription drugs any way other than prescribed, using someone else’s prescription, or repeated use of a substance to alleviate stress. 

Substance abuse means having a severe Substance Use Disorder, or being unable to stop using a substance or substances no matter how bad the consequences. The main difference between a person misusing drugs and a person abusing drugs is the intent behind their usage. Someone may use drugs as they are not intended to achieve a goal – staying awake longer, numbing pain, etc, whereas someone who abuses drugs is looking to elicit certain feelings and fulfill a craving for substance.

Whether you’ve struggled with substance use disorder for years, or are just beginning to question your relationship with substances – resources are available. While it can be helpful to educate yourself on the terms associated with substance use disorder, don’t get hung up on labeling. If you are concerned about your own use of substances or that of a loved one, it’s crucial to intervene sooner rather than later. You don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom to seek resources for your substance use. Search for Oklahoma substance use disorder treatment providers near you.