If you’re a casual drug user, you may be wondering where to draw the line between recreational use and addiction. Scientists are continually learning more about what causes addiction, and while they don’t have it completely figured out, it’s clear that there are physiological, social, and environmental influences. In this article, we’re going to define some commonly used terms, and explore the line between casual drug use and addiction.
What are recreational drugs?
Many people take substances for enjoyment rather than a medical need. Marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine are just a few examples of recreational drugs. These substances affect our emotions, perceptions, and feelings.
There are four categories of recreational drugs:
Analgesics drugs are designed to relieve pain and include heroin and narcotics like morphine and fentanyl.
Depressants slow down mental and physical activity and include barbiturates, alcohol, and tranquilizers.
Hallucinogens alter perceptions and include LSD, peyote, and magic mushrooms.
Stimulants speed up the central nervous system and include cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA.
What is recreational drug use?
In that case, what’s the recreational drug user definition? Recreational drug users partake only occasionally, usually in social settings. Recreational drug use differs widely from drug abuse or addiction. In many social circles, casual drug use is generally considered acceptable, even if illegal.
Generally, recreational drug use does not interfere with other obligations in one’s life, however, the term “recreational drug use” is misleading, as it downplays the risks of each individual drug.
People experiment with drugs for a variety of reasons, from curiosity to boredom, to relieve tension or as a social lubricant. Some users use drugs to escape from pain or unhappiness in their lives. This is often the fastest path to addiction, as sustained use turns into tolerance which easily becomes an addiction.
When does recreational use become an addiction?
For many users, recreational drug use can be a slippery slope to addiction. Drug use becomes a problem once one starts using too often, or takes too much. Drugs and alcohol can very easily become an escape, and excessive use changes our brain chemistry so that we become dependent. Once one continues to use without regard to consequences, the slide into addiction is complete.
Drug addiction is classified by an inability to control drug use. Drugs work on the pleasure center of the brain, activating the reward reflex. When repeated, this can change the way a person processes information. The addictive qualities of drugs are enhanced by how good they make a person feel, and how bad they feel when the drugs wear off.
Some drugs are more addictive than others, and the most addictive drugs might surprise you. According to recent studies, cocaine and heroin are considered the two most addictive drugs, followed by alcohol, barbiturates, and nicotine. It’s estimated that more than one in five people who try cocaine at some point in their life will wind up addicted.
Heroin addicts spend an average of $150 a day on their habit, and the heroin epidemic will cost society an estimated $51 billion.
In conclusion, the term “recreational” when used to describe drug use or users is extremely misleading and implies that drugs are fun and safe. However, all drug use can be dangerous, and it’s all too easy to slip into addiction.
It’s impossible to tell whether one is susceptible to addictions until it’s too late. Not only does drug use change brain chemistry, but it also normalizes illegal activity, which can be a dangerous path.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is battling with addiction, contact a certified addiction specialist at United Recovery Project before it’s too late.