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Drug type
Drug usage
Drug abuse
Drug treatment

Recreational drug use is the use of psychoactive drugs for recreational purposes rather than for work, medical or spiritual purposes, although the distinction is not always clear (often spiritual use is considered recreational).

Psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel refers to intoxication as the "fourth drive," arguing that the human instinct to seek mind-altering substances has so much force and persistence that it functions like the human drives for hunger, thirst and shelter.[1]


Responsible drug use[]

Main article: Responsible drug use

The concept of responsible drug use is that a person can use recreational drugs with reduced or eliminated risk of negatively affecting other parts of one's life or other peoples lives. Advocates of this philosophy point to the many well-known artists and intellectuals who have used drugs, experimentally or otherwise, with few detrimental effects on their lives. Critics argue that the drugs are escapist--and dangerous, unpredictable and sometimes addictive, and have negative and profound effects in geographic areas well beyond the location of the consumer. It should be noted that these criticism can apply to a number of non drug related addictions and behavioral abuse disorders. According to medical literature, responsible drug use only becomes drug abuse when the use of the substance significantly interferes with the user's daily life.

Drugs popularly used for recreation[]

Most Popular Psychoactives[]

The drugs most popular for recreational use worldwide are:[2]

Other Psychoactives[]

Other substances often used (street names in italics):[3][4][5]

Barbiturates, including[]
Benzodiazepines, including[]
Nonbenzodiazepines, including[]
Deliriants, including[]
Dissociative anaesthetics, including[]
Opium (Papaver somniferum) and opioids, including[]
Phenethylamines, including, but not limited to[]
  • 2C-B, nexus, bees
  • 2C-E
  • 2C-I, substance sometimes sold as mescaline
  • 2C-T-2
  • 2C-T-7
  • DOB
  • DOM
  • DOC, substance sometimes sold on blotter paper as LSD
  • MDMA, ecstasy
  • MDEA
  • MDA
  • Mescaline (found in peyote, peruvian torch, san pedro and other cacti).
  • Nutmeg, the active constituents of such are metabolized by the body into phenethylamine compounds, including PMA

For more information see: PiHKAL.

NOTE: Several stimulant substances are also classified chemically as Phenethylamines, including amphetamines and ephedrine.

Stimulants, including[]
Indole alkaloids, including, but not limited to[]

For more information see: TiHKAL.

NOTE: In regards to chemical classification, several psychoactives without effect-based classification also fall into this category including yohimbe and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the active constituent of kratom.

Inhalants, including[]


File:Male Smoking by Country.png

Smoking any tobacco product, %, Males[6] (See the same map for female smokers.)

File:Alcohol consumption per capita world map.PNG

Total recorded alcohol per capita consumption (15+), in litres of pure alcohol[7]

United States[]

Drug use has increased in all categories since prohibition.[8] Since 1937, 20% to 37% of the youth in the United States have used marijuana. One in four high school seniors has used the drug in the past month; one in ten 8th graders has done so.[9][8] Between 1972 and 1988, the use of cocaine increased more than fivefold.[10] The usage patterns of the current two most prevalent drugs, methamphetamine and ecstasy, have shown similar gains.[8]


A study in Ireland found that for teenagers aged 15-19:[11]

  • 86% Drink alcohol (the legal alcohol purchase age and public drinking age is 18.)
    • 51% binge drink (defined as five drinks or more at occasion) at least once a month.
    • 19% Binge drink once a week.
    • On a typical drinking occasion, the average amount of alcoholic beverages consumed is 5.75 pints.
    • The average age for taking a first alcoholic drink is 13½.
  • 50% Have used illegal drugs at least once.
    • 41% Have used cannabis at least once.
    • The average age of first illegal drug use is 14½.


Usage rates around the world:

See also[]


  • Walton, Stuart (2002). Out of It: A Cultural History of Intoxication, Penguin Books.

External links[]

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