It’s a common question many people have. Am I really an addict? (… or How do I know if someone I care about is addicted?) What’s the difference between an alcoholic and drug addict? Is there a difference between a cocaine … heroin … or even a marijuana addict?
A lot of people today drink alcohol and a fair number use drugs. (Does that make them all alcoholics or drug addicts?) Of course not!
So how do you know for sure? …
The difference between someone who is addicted and someone who simply uses or abuses a particular substance is the “compulsion to use” (whatever the substance may be)
And what do I mean by “compulsion to use”? …
Simply that most people who for example drink, know when to stop or have the power to say, “enough is enough.” (not always, but most of the time)
Whereas the alcoholic or drug addict can’t say no or simply walk away like most people can. As an addict or alcoholic – once you start it becomes almost impossible to stop – to control your using because the compulsion to use or drink is just too strong.
When you become addicted you almost lose the power to choose. That might sound flimsy or wish-washy, but it’s not and I’ll tell you why in the next part of this course …
The other big question … is what’s the difference between being an alcoholic or drug addict, whatever your drug of choice may be?
If you look at it carefully … not a lot actually. Yes your drug (or drink) of choice may be different … create a different form of high (or feeling), but the end result is still pretty much the same, i.e. “addiction,” which leads to “destruction” – or call it what you will – (mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally) … and which can ultimately lead to the heaviest price that anyone can pay … death.
So as a heroin addict that process might happen fairly quickly, whereas for the alcoholic it may happen far more gradually over a number of years, yet the consequences (no matter what the substance), of addiction will be very similar.
That’s why it’s a good idea to start thinking in terms of “addict” rather than “alcoholic,” “drug addict,” “junkie” or whatever you’ve been thinking of or using to describe such a person up to now. (Addicts like to think of themselves as “special and different” and that their problems are unique – but in actual fact they are no different to any other “addict”). I know I’ve been there …
Why do you think most major rehab facilities treat alcoholism, drug addiction and even things like gambling and sex addiction pretty much the same way?
Addicts even refer to alcohol as a drug because they know that even though for most people it can be enjoyed in moderation – for them it can’t – and that’s why it’s viewed in the same light (even though it may legal and regarded as socially acceptable.)