Recreational Use

Recreational drug use is when you use psychoactive drugs, or other substances, to induce feelings of pleasure or to alter your emotions or moods. When consumed, recreational drugs can cause a feeling of exhilaration or excitement in your brain, causing you to develop an altered perception of things happening around you.

Maybe you started taking these substances for enjoyment, leisure, or as an experiment to satisfy your curiosity. But, if not controlled, after a while you can become addicted to these substances, which will eventually lead to health and social complications, including criminal activity. In a lot of countries in the world, most types of drug are illegal, and carrying any of them, or using, is against the law and comes with severe consequences.

There are three main types of recreational drugs:

  • Depressants – These are drugs that cause you to experience feelings of calmness and relaxation. Examples of depressants include barbiturates, such as Amytal and Nembutal.
  • Stimulants – These are drugs that give you a sense of alertness and energy. Examples of stimulants are Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine.
  • Hallucinogens – These cause you to hallucinate, distorting your perception, and changing the way you see things happening around you. It can also make you feel psychotic and paranoid. Some people who take hallucinogens start to feel suspicious about the people and objects around them, because they are no longer able to explain who or what these people and objects are. Examples of hallucinogens are LSD, PCP, and cannabis.

Recreational drugs include alcohol, cannabis, nicotine, caffeine, and other controlled substances such as cocaine and heroin. A list of these controlled or illegal substances can be found in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of the United Nations. Although different countries have a different list of what they consider illegal substances, it generally always includes methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, and LSD. Way back in 2009, it was estimated that between 3 to 6 percent of people aged 15 to 65 had used illegal substances at least once in their lifetime.

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Why Do People Use Recreational Drugs?

There have been several studies on the reason behind the use of recreational drugs. If you use recreational drugs, chances are you do so because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Your friends are doing it and you didn’t want to be left out
  • You got pressured by peers to try them out
  • You were curious and wanted to see what it would feel like, so you experimented
  • You were looking for a new experience
  • You needed something to help you feel relaxed and confident around others
  • You needed something to help you forget your worries and troubles
  • You didn’t want to conform to what society sees as right or follow the status quo
  • You needed something to make you feel happy

Experts are yet to agree on a single reason why people use recreational drugs; however, it is assumed that any one, or a combination, of these reasons are likely to influence a person’s decision to take recreational drugs. Additionally, regardless of the cause, it is agreed that social factors play a vital role in exposing people to certain types of drugs and how to use them. According to researchers, most people who use recreational drugs tend to view it as part of a general lifestyle and, in most cases, are associated with an increase in status and a way of challenging what is generally accepted by the society.

While some people began using recreational drugs as a means to make new friends, experience pleasure, and mark a change of status, they also use it to deal with unhappiness and the challenges of poverty. Because of this, many people see using recreational drugs in a positive light rather than in the negative.

How Did it All Begin?

Research suggests that humans, at some point in history, developed the ability to exploit neurotoxic plants. These are plants known for their neurotoxic applications such as the coca leaf, among others. The ability to derive chemicals from these plants to help improve the functions of the endogenous neurotransmitters may have given early man an advantage in the race for survival. It is possible that the diet of early man may have contained these plant-based psychoactive chemicals. Different lines of research, including the study of hepatic enzymes, particularly cytochrome P450, have led researchers to suggest that humans may have begun using psychoactive substances derived from psychotropic plants millions of years ago.

What are the Risks Involved in Recreational Drug Use?

Taking recreational drugs exposes you to a number of risks, which can sometimes be unpredictable and varied. However, the nature and severity of these risks is largely determined by the exact drug or drugs you took and the quantity consumed. People react to drugs differently, the reasons for this including weight and age, as well as environmental factors, such as living conditions and access to healthcare. You expose yourself to some, or all, of the following risks through the use of illegal substances and recreational drugs:

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  • You may be infected with HIV, and different strains of hepatitis, if you inject these substances into your body. This usually happens when you share needles with other users.
  • Even if you started out using recreational drugs just for the fun of it, there is a high chance that you will become dependent on them, and begin to use them regularly. This will quickly escalate into full blown addiction.
  • Supporting a drug habit is expensive, once you become addicted, you may have to resort to criminal activities just to get the money needed for your regular dose.
  • If you use recreational drugs, and become dependent on them, it can have adverse effects on your social skills, and damage your relationships with other people. Your performance quality at school or work will decrease drastically, and this may cause you to lose your job or drop out of school. There are stories of marriages crumbling because one partner is addicted to recreational drugs or other substances.
  • Drugs can cause you to start behaving in strange ways. You begin to suspect everyone, and develop a sense of paranoia. There are thousands of people being admitted into therapy and health centers all over UK each year, as a result of drug-related mental and behavioral disorders.
  • If you make a mistake, you could overdose and die, or at the very least, fall very ill.
  • There are a whole lot of other problems associated with illegal drug use, such as unwanted pregnancy, homelessness and antisocial behaviour.

What Can Be Done?

The total number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales in 2014 was higher than in 2000. In the same year, there were more than 14,000 emergency admissions in hospitals all over England as a result of poisoning by illicit drugs. This has made many parties very concerned, including the government, who refer to addiction as a national health emergency.

All over the world, governments have introduced several bills and laws in an effort to curtail the use of recreational drugs. This also involves possession of these drugs, and the equipment used in the creation or consumption of them. Organisations also are not left behind, as several of them are advocating against the use of recreational drugs. However, there are also organisations and movements lobbying for these drugs, especially the legalisation of cannabis.

All in all, even though you may believe you have a logical reason for using recreational drugs, the truth remains that these substances can cause tremendous harm to your health and wellbeing.

If you, or someone you know, have a problem with drug addiction, there are lots of ways to obtain help, so that you, or the other person, can eventually regain a clean and fulfilling life.

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