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I know people who use illegal drugs recreationally. They are not addicted, it has never interfered with school/work/family/etc, they just enjoy relaxing on the weekends with ecstasy/LSD/cocaine/insert drug here. If a friend told you this how would you react?

In my experience, most people are worried about “recreational drug users”, apparently it’s impossible to recreationally use any drug without becoming addicted and ruining one’s life. That’s not exactly true, but it is a possibility and it’s fair to say that some people would argue that it is never worth taking that chance. That’s makes sense: do I smoke this crack and hope that I’m not the type to get addicted or do I just not use the drug? Most people would say ‘don’t touch the drug’. But why then are we all so fine with alcohol? Even cigarettes are legal.

This chart shows the relative addictiveness of some of the more common drugs:


The top one on the list is a commonly prescribed pain medication, and the second is tobacco. Alcohol is 7th, not that high, but it is above drugs like cocaine, PCP and ecstasy – some of the “bad” drugs.

At the end of a long week I commonly here people say that they can’t wait to go out and get trashed. They need to let go, loss control, and unwind. This is completely fine in our society. However, if someone talks about wanting to get home so they can shoot up and unwind then all of a sudden they are a terrible person, a drug addict, etc. Why?

drug dangers

This chart shows that, overall, alcohol is far more dangerous than any other drug, but still we are completely fine (actually sometimes far too insistent) with getting drunk and encouraging others to get drunk.

I have talked about this in some degree before, but I am interested as to why there is such a difference in how these drugs are viewed. It’s not just the legal aspect, people I talk to honestly believe there is a true difference between losing control and getting drunk to unwind and getting high to unwind; that alcohol isn’t like the other drugs, and when I ask why legality is rarely brought up.

So I have three questions to ask you:

1. If a friend tells you they are looking forward to going out and getting a little drunk to wind down on a Friday, would you worry? [assuming the friend doesn’t drink every day and it’s not interfered with anything before]

2. What about if your friend said they were going to get high on cocaine to wind down on a Friday, would you worry then? [assuming the friend doesn’t use drugs every day and it’s not interfered with anything before]

3. If you have a different answer for each question. Why? Do you think it’s fair?