People often use the terms "substance abuse" and "addiction" interchangeably. This is an incorrect use of these terms. Substance abuse and addiction are markedly different things. However, there is confusion over when to use them because they can be used to describe one condition. They can share some of the same facets but are not identical to one another. The obvious difference is that one refers to the misuse of substances that one ingests while the other refers to the misuse of anything that gives the person pleasure. Substance abuse involves overusing a substance more heavily than it is intended to be used and addiction involves overusing anything pleasurable to the point that it is a problem.
Substance abuse may overlap with addiction, but it is its own condition. A person can be a substance abuser without being an addict because a substance abuser does not need to have a dependency on the substance they are abusing. They are simply being irresponsible with the substance. The condition known as substance abuse is much more complex than simply "bad behavior," however. Substance abuse has deep roots in psychological, environmental and biological problems.
Addiction can be for a substance or a process, such as sex or gambling. An addict is a substance abuser when their addiction is to a substance because they fit the definition of a substance abuser. However, if they are genuinely addicted to the substance, that is to say they have a physical and / or emotional dependency to it, they will be referred to as an addict. Psychologically speaking, addiction precedes substance abuse.
This is not to say that addiction is more serious than substance abuse. Dangerous substance abuse, such as binge drinking, frequently results in the loss of life, making it a serious and deadly condition that should be treated urgently once it is discovered. Both addiction and substance abuse should receive intensive treatment to prevent them from ruining the person's life that they are affecting. Addiction and substance abuse require work and dedication in order to leave behind, but with the help of mental and medical professionals, it can be accomplished.