Social & Recreational Use

Social drinking refers to the responsible use of alcohol to reinforce or enhance social interactions.

While this is not a hard and fast rule, a social drinker will generally not use alcohol more than two or three times a week, consuming only a couple of drinks or less during each episode. Social drinkers seldom become intoxicated more than once or twice a year, and these are usually planned events, such as a New Years Eve party or another celebration.

Social drinkers don't engage in dangerous behaviors while drinking, such as driving a car, or caring for children, and their drinking doesn't cause them any problems at home, at work, or elsewhere.

Social drinkers drink when they're not working, either with friends or on special occasions, but they don't make a habit of drinking. They can live with it or without it.

On the other end of the scale, alcohol dependence and addiction takes over a person's life, and has the strong potential of ruining it.

As with alcohol use, when it comes to drugs, most recreational drug users don't become addicts. However, when it comes to the use of illegal drugs, it may not be proper to think of it as recreational drug use. In most cases, alcoholic beverages are legal and, in the absence of alcoholism, people are generally not harmed by an occasional drink. But, with drugs, the very fact that the non-prescribed and therapeutic use of drugs is against the law brings a strong potential for harm.

When so
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meone uses an illegal drug, they are subjecting themselves to arrest and prosecution. Given that the use of alcohol becomes abuse the moment the drinker starts having problems as a result of it, it can reasonably be argued that the very use of an illegal drug is abuse, and that there is no such thing as the recreational use of an illegal drug.

Still, there is a difference between drug use and drug addiction. Many people who use illegal drugs can stop as easily as they started, and if they can avoid arrest or any of the other dangers that are associated with the drug scene, they may face no harmful effects.

Of course, that depends on a lot of factors. The first use of an illegal drug can result in arrest and prosecution, for one thing. It can also depend on the drug. Illegal drugs may contain dangerous adulterants, and the purity or potency of an illegal drug could be in question. Additionally, there is an inherent danger in the illegal drug trade, and illegal drug users are largely outside of the protection of the law.

It may also be argued that there is no such thing as the recreational use of prescription drugs, as the use of these drugs for reasons not specified by the prescribing physician is also illegal, and may place the user in many of the same dangers as those who are using illegal drugs.

The use of marijuana may be another thing because many states have legalized both the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis. Although it has not been associated with addiction, there is such a thing as dependence on it, and there are potential problems. Long-term marijuana users might feel as if they have to smoke a joint when they get out of bed in order to feel normal. More controversial, there are suggestions that heavy cannabis use could place the user at risk of developing mental health problems, such as clinical depression or even schizophrenia.

In summary, while there is such a thing as the recreational use of alcohol, and perhaps marijuana, the recreational use of illegal or non-therapeutically prescribed drugs is questionable. With all of these substances, however, there is a sharp distinction between use and abuse, although the latter is a term that we prefer not to use as an epithet.