Moderate use is defined as use of a psycho active substance that does not generally cause problems either for the user or for society. There is a difference between problem drug use and addiction. Problem drug or alcohol use is at the beginning of a spectrum of experienced negative effects on life and health. A person notices the negative impact of drinking or using in a particular area of their life, and decides to change their pattern of use. Problem use has not taken over the person’s life. Problem use can lead to an abuse cycle and addiction or it can be managed and reduced so the person stops using or changes their pattern of use.
You have stepped beyond problem use if you have been attending a formal addiction program or receiving extensive addiction treatment. With addiction, your drug and alcohol use changed the way you felt, the way you were treated. It consumed your thoughts and time. It negatively influenced your work and school. It negatively affected your relationships. It caused you to feel worry, shame, guilt, anger, anxiety, and depression. You often experienced symptoms of withdrawal and felt generally sick and out of control all the time. You tried repeatedly to stop or reduce use and you were unsuccessful. This is full addiction, not problem substance use. If you have experienced addiction, there is no such thing as limited use for you. Trying to gradually cut down or trying to return to limited use is a fruitless venture once you have been addicted. Each use fuels the craving and desire for more and prolonged using. Repeated attempts to reduce use and return to moderate use postpones the recovery process indefinitely. If you are in doubt whether you have an addiction, seek a professional assessment.