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Drug Misuse Versus Abuse

I’ve always given people the benefit of the doubt but began to worry when it seemed my husband had a challenge managing his prescription pain medicine for his back. It started small, with his comments on how different his prescription was from the previous month, and then it became a monthly issue: they shorted him pills, the dose was different, or the brand was wrong.

Differentiating drug misuse from abuse can be confusing.

man with one foot on either side of a divider - drug misuse versus abuse - it's a fine line - great oaks recovery center - houston drug rehab - texas alcohol addiction treatment centerTo me, misuse meant something like taking a wrong dosage without consciously meaning to. Drug abuse meant something worse, such as using an illegal street drug or taking a drug that wasn’t personally prescribed to you. I also believed drug abuse meant addiction.

Some say that the key difference between drug abuse verses misuse has to do with the individual’s intentions. Misuse can mean when a person takes a legal prescription medication for a purpose other than the reason it was prescribed, or can also include taking a drug in a manner or at a dose that was not recommended by a health care professional.

This only confused me. Did this definition mean that drug misuse versus abuse was a moot point? As I continued to search for the answer, I came across this definition of drug abuse from News Medical Life Sciences:

Drug abuse or substance abuse refers to the use of certain chemicals for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain. 

This made sense. My husband was not only taking the drug to relieve pain but to experience the its euphoric effects. His brain was succumbing to the cumulative effect of the drug and creating cravings that called for more and more of the drug. I called my husband’s doctor, and a week later we had the uncomfortable talk about addiction. Two weeks later, we checked him into a 30-day addiction recovery program, and I have been attending Al-Anon as suggested. We both are hopeful.

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