What is the difference between use and abuse of addictive drugs/narcotics?
This is a controversial issue, where different people have different opinions. The two main views are:
- The risk of becoming an addict is so great, that you should never use any addictive drugs.
- Drugs can be used in safe ways, and only certain usage is dangerous.
These two views vary from person to person, from culture to culture, and from drug to drug. For example, many people take view 2 for alcohol, but view 1 for many other recreational drugs.
Those who take view 2 explain this view as follows:
Alcohol or recreational drugs can be used, but can also be abused. We talk about abuse when a substance is used without taking the risks into account, without following any rules and for the wrong reasons.
Using recreational drugs means taking risks. These risks can be limited by taking the risks into account and by using them in such a way that the risks are limited. Generally, using in the most sensible way possible means that you shouldn't use too much, use only when you feel good and you are in a good environment, and when you have prepared yourself to use.
Using recreational drugs means that you should know when you can use and when you cannot. In the case of alcohol, many people have made rules or deals with themselves, like "I only drink during dinner", "I don't drink when I drive, exercise or work", "when I go out I don't drink more than 5 glasses of alcohol", etc. The rules can help to keep use within control. Recreational drugs are risky substances that require these kinds of deals or rules. People with this view say that you abuse drugs when you don't have any deal with yourself about the use of them.
Recreational drugs can be used for several reasons. You can use because you hang around with friends or because you like it, but you can also use them if you don't want to suffer from a bad feeling, or because you can't get rid of your tensions otherwise. If you use drugs for these last reasons, you actually don't use them for your own pleasure, but to solve a problem. In that case you are using drugs for the wrong reasons. The chance that your drug use gets out of hand is normally bigger when you use for negative reasons than when you use for positive reasons.