Employees with drug and/or alcohol problems often are unhappy with their lives, but fail to realize that their use of alcohol and/or drugs is a major contributing factor to their unhappiness.

The struggle with addiction is characterized by repeated failures to control use, an increase in the number and severity of problems caused by use and the need for greater amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effect. However, not everyone who uses alcohol or experiments with illegal drugs becomes addicted.

Formal attempts to standardize definitions used to describe alcohol and drug disorders have not been entirely successful for a number of reasons, including the fact that the differences between use, abuse and addiction are not easily recognized based on isolated observable behaviors that individuals may exhibit. Nevertheless, the following descriptions of use, abuse and addiction are used by health care professionals who specialize in drug and alcohol disorders and reflect the progression that may occur from normal, non-problematic use to abuse and addiction.

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