Recreational Drug Use

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Frequently asked questions

What are recreational drugs?

Recreational drugs are substances people may take: to give themselves a pleasurable experience to help them feel better if they are having a bad time because their friends are using them to see what it feels like. They include alcohol, tobacco (nicotine), substances such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, and some prescribed medicines.

What is Recreational drug use?

Recreational drug usage is when a psychoactive drug is used to affect the user's perceptions, sensations, and emotions in order to induce an altered state of consciousness for pleasure or some other casual purpose or pastime. When a psychoactive drug enters the body of the user, it causes intoxication.

What are the types of recreational drugs?

Recreational drugs may be:

  • legal – such as nicotine and alcohol;
  • illegal – drugs like ecstasy and LSD are illegal - this means it is against the law to have them or supply them to other people; 
  • controlled – these are drugs used in medicine, such as benzodiazepines; it is legal to take controlled drugs if a doctor has given you a prescription for them but it is illegal to have them if not; it is also illegal to give or sell controlled drugs to anyone else.
  • A number of substances previously known as ‘legal highs’ are now illegal – for example, mephedrone ('meow meow').

Recreational drug use vs addiction: what’s the difference?

Substances that are commonly abused can be found in recreational drugs. These substances have the potential to induce addiction in many people, and some even have a proclivity for generating life concerns such as family issues, marital problems, financial difficulties, professional decline, and much more. What, though, is the true distinction between recreational drug use and addiction? Is there a line that separates a point of no return from a point of no return?

The crucial point here is that addiction has an impact on a person's brain and its intrinsic functionality. Changes in the brain's structure and overall function are common in people struggling with addiction, resulting in any of the following symptoms:

  • Intense cravings
  • Changes in personality
  • Abnormal movements
  • Other distinct behaviors

Why do only some people get addicted to drugs?

This is an excellent question, but one that is unfortunately difficult to answer. Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others, but it's vital to understand that drug addiction can strike anyone at any age. However, because your brain is still developing as an adolescent, you are more vulnerable to addiction. The molecules in your brain are altered by drugs and alcohol. They change the way you think, act, and think about things. This cycle can be started with just a few hits or pills. I know you think it won't happen to you, but you can't always predict what will happen.

Are all drugs addictive? 

Each drug of abuse is unique and will act on the brain in a different way. All drugs, however, have one thing in common: they affect a neurotransmitter called dopamine. When someone takes a drug, their brain releases dopamine, which causes them to feel "high." When a person uses drugs on a regular basis, however, their brain adjusts to the dopamine spikes that occur. Their bodies become accustomed to this substance and need more of it over time. This is the beginning of an addiction. The user begins to seek more drugs and fewer of the previously enjoyable aspects of life, such as nice food and companionship. The user's ability to resist these negative desires tends to deteriorate, making quitting more difficult.

Can I get addicted if I do it just once and a while?

Yes, you can. The majority of people just intend to use drugs once or "once in a while." They have no intention of becoming addicted, but many do. This is because addictive substances affect a person's brain chemically with each usage. Over time, your occasional use may grow into frequent use, which may eventually convert into regular use. This is how addiction works.
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