Soft Drugs Vs Hard Drugs. What’s The Difference?

The subject of drug use has a lexicon of different words and phrases that are used and two phrases that are often heard within the vocabulary of those discussing drug use in whatever context, are “hard drugs” and “soft drugs”. It is safe to say that these two phrases have probably been more misused and created more confusion and misunderstanding than any others concerning drug use.

Firstly, it is the case that there is no hard and fast definition of what constitutes a hard drug or a soft drug. Both of these terms are completely arbitrary and there are no official criteria as to what would identify any drug as hard or soft. Further, no official scientific or medical paper exists that definitively outlines what a hard drug or soft drug is.

Consensus? What Consensus?

Whilst there may not be a definite definition of what a hard or a soft drug is,  you will find that there are general views of what they are. It must be stated that individuals, whether they be doctors, drug recovery specialists, or even drugs users themselves may have specific views that vary slightly from the general view.

Even here there is a misconception that the terms “hard” and “soft” relate solely to the amount of damage that drug can do to someone who takes it, and ultimately becomes addicted to it. By this definition, hard drugs are regarded as being more toxic to the user’s system and some believe that a drug that is more addictive should have the label “hard”.

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What is Addiction?

The terms addiction, substance dependence, and substance abuse are on occasion separated by a few characteristics. In the DSM-IV, the American Psychiatric Association has combined the neurological nature of addiction and the withdrawal pattern typical of substance dependence to help define the disorder as a whole.

With a broader understanding and more inclusive terms counselling and medicine may cooperate to understand and treat both the brain and behaviour dysfunctions that comprise Substance Use Disorder.

Professionals currently use very accurate set of criteria to help them determine the presence of an addiction or a Substance Use Disorder:

  • Tolerance: Do you have to use more of the drugs or alcohol over time to maintain a high?
  • Withdrawal: Have you experienced physical or emotional discomfort when you have stopped using? Have you used to avoid feelings of anxiety, sadness, or to prevent shakes, sweats, nausea, or vomiting?
  • Control: Do you find yourself taking larger amounts than you ever thought you would or use for longer than you expected?
  • Desire to quit: Have you thought about cutting down your use? Have you tried to cut down or control your use and been unsuccessful?
  • Time devoted to others: Have you ever cancelled activities with friends, missed important work occasions, or reduced the amount of socializing and recreation in your life because of your use?
  • Time devoted to using: Do you spend the majority of your time obtaining, using, hiding, recovering from your use, and planning the next use? How much time do you spend thinking about using, avoiding getting caught, or ways to get more?
  • Negative consequences: Have you continued to use once you learn about and see the harmful effects of the substance to your health and in your personal life? Do you keep the drug around even when your body and relationships begin deteriorating?

Because addiction does not resemble what we commonly think of when we imagine disease we often blame the addict entirely for choosing their life and for being too weak to walk away. It is true that one of the greatest positive indicators of substance use disorder is a person’s choice to use even when there are clear and immediate negative consequences for doing so. But why?

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How To Overcome Your Fears Of Entering A Drug Rehab Program

For anyone addicted to drugs, the decision to enter a drug rehabilitation program often generates fear. To others it might seem illogical that someone whose life is ruled by drug addiction would have any concerns about recovering from that, but, unless you have experienced drug addiction, you can never understand the thought process that has to be gone through.

Drug users will often rely on the phrase “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. This means that whilst fully aware of the harm that drug use is causing them, they are used to it. Conversely, entering a drug rehabilitation program has so many unknowns for them and means multiple changes in their current life, so it can seem less worrisome to continue as they are.

Potential Fears Of Entering Drug Rehab

Here are some of the fears that drug users often cite as the reason they are reticent about entering drug rehab.

Withdrawal Symptoms: Images on movies of people suffering extreme drug withdrawals and hearing the experiences of those who have gone through drug recovery can throw up a reason to be fearful of withdrawal symptoms and reactions.

Confronting Their Addiction: Drug users can take years before they accept they are addicted, and may even be in denial right up to when they are considering recovery. Even then, the fact they will have to face dealing with their addiction can be scary for some.

Losing Their Job: Advising an employer that you are entering drug rehab can be scary, especially if you fear the employer may fire you on the spot. Thankfully, most employers are more enlightened than that and some will even help fund an employee’s recovery program.

Fear Of Failure: Fear of failure can occur in any situation but given the enormity of what it means to an individual’s life, failing is an understandable fear. Bear in mind drug rehab programs have an excellent track record and the drug support specialists do all they can to achieve recovery for their clients.

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The Alarming Effects Of Drugs Use On Your Physical Appearance

There have been millions of words written and spoken warning everyone about the dangers of drug addiction and that it can lead to premature death. That warning is evidenced by data that shows that in Australia alone almost 2,000 individuals die younger than they should each year. Expand that to the entire world and the number is sadly closer to 500,000 premature deaths annually.

Of course, not every instance of drug dependency results in the person’s death, but that does not mean that are no other negative consequences. One of these is the physical effects and the damage that drug use does to a person’s appearance. Such is the level of harm to their appearance that it might be the tipping point for one of their family or friends to realise that this person has a drugs problem, given that there may not be any other obvious clues.

How Drugs Adversely Affect Appearance

There are five main elements of one’s appearance that drug use can affect negatively. These are skin, teeth, hair, muscles, and bones. Outlined below are the specifics of that harm and how they adversely affect a person’s appearance.

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Common Lies Addicts Tell Themselves and Others

Addiction can really take a toll on those who are addicts and also their family members and friends. The disease is one that can quickly spiral out of control and the addict is unfortunately left to make some tough decisions. It can be difficult for those on the outside to truly understand what the individual is going through because they are not in the situation.

Addiction recovery can help any drug or alcohol addict overcome the addiction that has been ruling their life. One of the most important things that outsiders must understand is that when an addict asks for help – you do not wait. When help is requested, they need it now and not later. Below, we will go over some of the most common lies that many addicts will tell themselves and others to prevent being entered into a drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility.

  1. It’s Just Stress

While it may be true that the addict is stressed, it is a common lie to say that the only reason they are addicted to or seem addicted to a substance is because of stress. There are many alternative stress relievers and excessive drinking or drug taking is the first sign of an addiction.

  1. I Can Quit Whenever I Want

Many of those people who are addicted to substances will say they can stop at any time, but they truly cannot. Once addiction has grasped onto you, you cannot quit no matter how hard you try sometimes. It takes more than just not purchasing pills or bottles of booze. Withdrawals are one of the top reasons why people relapse.

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Choosing Gratitude

When I was first introduced to treatment and recovery in a 12-step group, I heard people laughing and talking about how grateful they were to be an alcoholic or drug addict in recovery.  These people talked about the years of happy sober living they had.  I simply could not believe that anyone could put together any length of time without using, OR, that they could be happy and face the challenges in life without mind-altering substances.

I was sure that I was the only person who had suffered from the abuses that lead me to drinking and drugging, and that if ‘they’ had gone through what ‘I’ had gone through, they couldn’t face a single day without using either. And, I was sure that these people were lying – no one can stay sober for that long!

I was a mess when I landed in treatment, and could not imagine ever being happy again.  I was victimized by physical and verbal abuse for so long that I believed everything my perpetrator said was true about me, even though I also knew what a liar this person was.  I had lost everything I’d worked for my entire adult life – including my kids – to this abusive person.  I was angry, vengeful and very broken.  I had been a victim for so long, it was my identity and I didn’t know how to not be a victim.

At some point early on in my recovery, my sponsor suggested that I start a gratitude list.  I scoffed.  After some discussion, I agreed to write down 2 things I was grateful for every day for the next week.

This was the beginning of my growth from being a victim to taking back my power, finding joy, and eventually finding sobriety and serenity.

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