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Recreational Drugs

Recreational Drug Use

Recreational drug use is drug use with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience. Such use is controversial, however, often being considered to be also drug abuse, and it is often illegal. Also, it may overlap with other uses, such as medicinal (including self medication), performance enhancement, and entheogenic (spiritual). Drugs commonly considered capable of recreational use include alcohol and tobacco, and drugs within the scope of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The fact that caffeine use may be considered recreational is often overlooked. Psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel refers to intoxication as the "fourth drive", arguing that the human instinct to seek mind-altering substances (psychoactive drugs) has so much force and persistence that it functions like the human desire to satisfy hunger, thirst and the need for shelter.

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 people's 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 user. It should be noted that these criticisms 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.

Responsible drug use advocates argue that users should not take drugs at the same time as activities such as driving, swimming, operating machinery, or other activities which are unsafe without a sober state. Responsible drug use is emphasized as a primary prevention technique in harm-reduction drug policies. Harm-reduction policies were popularized in the late 1980s although they began in the 1970s counter-culture where users were distributed cartoons explaining responsible drug use and consequences of irresponsible drug use. Another issue is that the illegality of drugs in itself may also cause social and economic consequences for those using them—the drugs may be "cut" with adulturants and the purity varies wildly, making overdoses more likely—and legal regulation of drug production and distribution would alleviate these and other dangers of illegal drug use. Harm reduction seeks to minimize the harm that can occur through the use of various drugs, whether legal (e.g. alcohol and nicotine), or illegal (e.g. heroin and cocaine). For example, people who inject illicit drugs can minimize harm to both themselves and members of the community through proper injecting technique, using new needles and syringes each time, and through proper disposal of all injecting equipment.

The drugs most popular for recreational use worldwide are: caffeine (from coffee, tea, and other plant sources) – Legal in all parts of the world, but not consumed by members of some religions.

Common psycho-actives include

cannabis (commonly known as marijuana; contains cannabinoids, primarily tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) – Illegal in most parts of the world and consumed by members of some religions.

ethanol (commonly referred to as alcohol, occurs naturally in alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer) – Legal but regulated in most parts of the world, and illegal in several Muslim countries such as Libya, Sudan and Saudi Arabia; not consumed by members of some religions.

theobromine (caffeine-related substance found in chocolate) – Legal in all parts of the world, but not consumed by members of some religions.

tobacco (contains nicotine and beta-carboline alkaloids) – Legal but regulated in most parts of the world and not consumed by members of some religions.

various opioids - Some legal by prescription only, such as hydrocodone; some mainly illegal.


Are psychoactive drugs which temporarily diminish the function or activity of a specific part of the body or mind. Examples of these kinds of effects may include anxiolysis(minor tranquilizers), sedation, and hypotension. Due to their effects typically having a "down" quality to them, depressants are also occasionally referred to as "downers". Stimulants or "uppers", which increase mental and/or physical function, are in stark contrast to depressants and are considered to be their functional opposites. Depressants are widely used throughout the world as prescription medicines and as illicit substances. When these are used, effects may include anxiolysis, analgesia, sedation, somnolence, cognitive/memory impairment, dissociation, muscle relaxation, lowered blood pressure/heart rate, respiratory depression, anesthesia, and anticonvulsant effects. Some are also capable of inducing feelings of euphoria. Depressants exert their effects through a number of different pharmacological mechanisms, the most prominent of which include facilitation of GABA and/or opioid activity, and inhibition of adrenergic, histamine and/or acetylcholine activity.


(or "histamine antagonists") inhibit the release or action of histamine. "Antihistamine" can be used to describe any histamine antagonist, but the term is usually reserved for the classical antihistamines that act upon the H1 histamine receptor. Antihistamines are used as treatment for allergies. Allergies are caused by an excessive response of the body to allergens, such as the pollen released by grasses and trees. An allergic reaction causes release of histamine by the body. Other uses of antihistamines are to help with normal symptoms of insect stings even if there is no allergic reaction. Since antihistimines are widely available over the counter at drug stores (without a prescription), in the form of cough medicines, they are widely used as recreational drugs, sometimes in combination with other substances such as alcohol. Examples include:

chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton

dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)

diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Unisom, Nytol)

doxylamine (NyQuil, Somnil, Dozile, Restavit)

hydroxyzine (Vistaril, Atarax)

promethazine (Phenergan)


(also known as "painkillers") are used to relieve pain (achieve analgesia). The word analgesic derives from Greek "αν-" (an-, "without") and "άλγος" (álgos, "pain"). Analgesic drugs act in various ways on the peripheral and central nervous systems; they include paracetamol (para-acetylaminophenol, also known in the US as acetaminophen), the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as the salicylates, and opioid drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.

The opiates and opioid analgesics that may be used recreationally include codeine, heroin, Vicodin and Percocet/OxyContin

buprenorphine (Subutex, Temgesic, Buprenex, Suboxone)

codeine (Tylenol #3)

Purple drank refers to a formulation containing both codeine and promethazine.

diacetylmorphine (Heroin, Diamorphine; "Smack", "Dope", "Brown", "Tar", "Black", "Boy")

dihydrocodeine (DHC)

fentanyl (Duragesic, Actiq, Fentora, Sublimaze)

hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, Hydrocet)

hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Palladone)

kratom (contains tryptamine alkaloids which act as mu-opioid receptor agonists)

methadone (Methadose, Dolophine)

morphine (MS-Contin, MS-IR; "Morpha", "Emma")

opium (from Papaver somniferum, the Opium Poppy)

oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicodone, OxyNorm, OxyIR)

oxymorphone (Opana, Numorphone)

pentazocine (Fortral)

pethidine / meperidine (Demerol)

propoxyphene (Darvocet, Darvon)

tramadol (Ultram, Tramal)

Tranquilizers (GABAergics)


amobarbital (Amytal)

aprobarbital (Alurate)

butalbital (Fiorinal, Fioricet)

methylphenobarbital (Mebaral)

pentobarbital (Nembutal)

phenobarbital (Luminal)

secobarbital (Seconal)

sodium thiopental (Pentothal)


alprazolam (Xanax)

bromazepam (Lexotanil)

chlordiazepoxide (Librium)

clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril)

diazepam (Valium)

flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)

lorazepam (Ativan, Temesta)

midazolam (Dormicum)

nimetazepam (Erimin)

nitrazepam (Mogadon)

oxazepam (Seresta)

temazepam (Normison, Restoril)


eszopiclone (Lunesta)

zaleplon (Sonata)

zolpidem (Ambien)

zopiclone (Imovan)


carisoprodol (Soma)

chloral hydrate

diethyl ether

ethchlorvynol (Placidyl, "jelly-bellies")

gabapentin (Neurontin)

gamma-butyrolactone (GBL, a prodrug to GHB)

gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB; G; Xyrem; "Liquid Ecstasy", "Fantasy")

glutethimide (Doriden)

kava (from Piper methysticum; contains kavalactones)

meprobamate (Miltown)

methaqualone (Sopor, Mandrax; "Quaaludes")

pregabalin (Lyrica)

propofol (Diprivan)

quetiapine (Seroquel)

theanine (found in Camellia sinensis, the tea plant)

valerian (from Valeriana officinalis)


Can be divided into three broad categories: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. They can cause subjective changes in perception, thought, emotion and consciousness. Unlike other psychoactive drugs such as stimulants and opioids, hallucinogens do not merely amplify familiar states of mind, but induce experiences that differ from those of ordinary consciousness, often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as trance, meditation, conversion experiences, and dreams. A typical "hallucination" induced by a psychedelic drug is more accurately described as a modification of regular perception, and the subject is usually quite aware of the illusory and personal nature of their perceptions. Deliriants, such as diphenhydramine and atropine, may cause hallucinations in the proper sense.

Pychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants have a long worldwide history of use within medicinal and religious traditions. They are used in shamanic forms of ritual healing and divination, in initiation rites, and in the religious rituals of syncretistic movements such as União do Vegetal, Santo Daime, and the Native American Church. When used in religious practice, psychedelic drugs, as well as other substances like tobacco, are referred to as entheogens. In some US states and on some reservations, certain hallucinogens such as peyote are classified as part of recognized religious ceremonies and are therefore considered legal if used in such ceremonies.

Starting in the mid-20th century, psychedelic drugs have been the object of extensive attention in the Western world. They have been and are being explored as potential therapeutic agents in treating depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcoholism and opioid addiction. Yet the most popular, and at the same time most stigmatized, use of psychedelics in Western culture has been associated with the search for direct religious experience, enhanced creativity, personal development, and "mind expansion". The use of psychedelic drugs was a major element of the 1960s counterculture, where it became associated with various social movements and a general atmosphere of rebellion and strife between generations.


atropine (alkaloid found in plants of the Solanaceae family, including datura, deadly nightshade, henbane and mandrake)

dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, an antihistamine)

diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Unisom, Nytol)

hyoscyamine (alkaloid also found in the Solanaceae)

scopolamine (another Solanaceae alkaloid)


dextromethorphan (DXM; Robitussin, Delsym, etc; "Dex", "Robo", "Cough Syrup", "DXM") "Triple C's, Coricidin" refer to a formulation containing both dextromethorphan and chlorpheniramine.

ketamine (K; Ketalar, Ketaset, Ketanest; "Ket", "Kit Kat", "Special-K", "Vitamin K", "Jet Fuel", "Horse Tranquilizer")

nitrous oxide (N2O; "Nozz", "Laughing Gas", "Whippets")

phencyclidine (PCP; Sernyl; "Angel Dust", "Rocket Fuel", "Killer Weed", "Super Grass")



2C-B ("Nexus", "Venus", "Eros", "Bees")

2C-E ("Eternity", "Hummingbird")

2C-I ("Infinity")

2C-T-2 ("Rosy")

2C-T-7 ("Blue Mystic", "Lucky 7")




DOM ("Serenity, Tranquility, and Peace" ("STP")

mescaline (found in peyote, Peruvian torch cactus and San Pedro cactus)

tryptamines (including ergolines and lysergamides)

5-MeO-DiPT ("Foxy", "Foxy Methoxy")

5-MeO-DMT (found in various plants like chacruna, jurema, vilca, and yopo)

lpha-methyltryptamine (αMT; Indopan; "Spirals")

bufotenin (secreted by Bufo alvarius, also found in various Amanita mushrooms)

dimethyltryptamine (DMT; "Dimitri", "Disneyland", "Spice", "Instant Psychosis"; also found in in various plants similarly to 5-MeO-DMT)

lysergic acid amide (LSA; ergine; found in Morning Glory and Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds)

lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD; L; Delysid; "Acid", "Lucy", "Sidney", "Blotters", "Sugar Cubes")

psilocin (found in psilocybin mushrooms; ("Magic Mushrooms", "Shrooms", "Mushies")

psilocybin (also found in psilocybin mushrooms; prodrug to psilocin)


ibogaine (found in Tabernanthe iboga ("Iboga")

myristicin (found in Myristica fragrans ("Nutmeg")


ibotenic acid (found in Amanita muscaria ("Fly Agaric"); prodrug to muscimol)

muscimol (also found in Amanita muscaria, a GABAergic)

salvinorin A (found in Salvia divinorum, a trans-neoclerodane diterpenoid ("Diviner's Sage", "Lady Salvia", "Salvinorin")


Also known as "psychostimulants", induce euphoria with improvements in mental and physical function, such as enhanced alertness, wakefulness, and locomotion. Due to their effects typically having an "up" quality to them, stimulants are also occasionally referred to as "uppers". Depressants or "downers", which decrease mental and/or physical function, are in stark contrast to stimulants and are considered to be their functional opposites. Stimulants are widely used throughout the world as prescription medicines and as illicit substances of recreational use or abuse. Stimulants enhance the activity of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Common effects may include increased alertness, awareness, wakefulness, endurance, productivity, and motivation, arousal, locomotion, heart rate, and blood pressure, and a diminished desire for food and sleep. Many stimulants are also capable of improving mood and relieving anxiety, and some can even induce feelings of euphoria. It should be noted, however, that many of these drugs are also capable of causing anxiety, even the ones that may paradoxically reduce it to a degree at the same time. Examples include:

Sympathomimetics (catecholaminergics)

4-methylaminorex (4-MAR; "Ice", "EU4EUH")

amphetamine (Adderall, Dexedrine; "Speed")

benzylpiperazine (BZP; "A2", "Hummer", "Frenzy")

cathine (found in Catha edulis ("Khat")

cathinone (also found in Catha edulis)

cocaine ("Coke", "Crack", "Blow", "Sniff", "Snow"; found in Erythroxylum coca ("Coca")

ephedrine (found in Ephedra)

lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)

methamphetamine (Desoxyn; "Meth", "Crank", "Crystal", "Tweak", "Glass", "Ice", "P")

methcathinone ("Mcat")

methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV; "Sonic", "Magic")

methylphenidate (Ritalin, Focalin, Concerta)

pemoline (Cylert)

phenmetrazine (Preludin; "Prellies", "Preludes")

propylhexedrine (Benzedrex; "Glow")

pseudoephedrine (also found in Ephedra species)

Entactogens (serotonergics, primarily phenethylamines)

4-methylthioamphetamine (4-MTA; "Flatliners")

alpha-ethyltryptamine (αET; Monase)

indanylaminopropane (IAP)

methylenedioxyaminoindane (MDAI)

methylbenzodioxolylbutanamine (MBDB; "Eden")

methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA; "Mellow Drug of America")

methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA; "Eve")

methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; "Ecstasy"; "E", "X", "XTC", "Pills"), "Adam", "Molly", "Mandy")

mephedrone ("Meow", "Bubble", "Drone")

methylone ("Explosion", "Ease")

methoxymethylamphetamine (MMA)

paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA)


arecoline (found in Areca catechu)

rauwolscine (found in Rauvolfia serpentina)

yohimbine (Procomil; a tryptamine alkaloid found in Pausinystalia yohimbe)


Computer cleaning dusters are dangerous to inhale, because the gases expand and cool rapidly upon being sprayed. Inhalants are gases, aerosols, or solvents that are breathed in and absorbed through the lungs. While some "inhalant" drugs are used for medical purposes, as in the case of nitrous oxide, a dental anaesthetic, inhalants are used as recreational drugs for their intoxicating effect. Most inhalant drugs that are used non-medically are ingredients in household or industrial chemical products that are not intended to be concentrated and inhaled, including organic solvents (found in cleaning products, fast-drying glues, and nail polish removers), fuels (gasoline (petrol) and kerosene) and propellant gases such as freon and compressed hydrofluorocarbons that are used in aerosol cans such as hairspray, whipped cream and non-stick cooking spray. A small number of recreational inhalant drugs are pharmaceutical products that are used illicitly, such as anaesthetics (ether and nitrous oxide) and volatile anti-angina drugs (alkyl nitrites).

Inhalant users tend to be people who do not have access to other drugs or alcohol, such as children, teenagers, incarcerated or institutionalized people, and marginalized individuals. The most serious inhalant abuse occurs among children and teens who "live on the streets completely without family ties." Inhalant users inhale vapor or aerosol propellant gases using plastic bags held over the mouth or by breathing from a solvent-soaked rag or an open container. The effects of inhalants range from an alcohol-like intoxication and intense euphoria to vivid hallucinations, depending on the substance and the dosage. Some inhalant users are injured due to the harmful effects of the solvents or gases, or due to other chemicals used in the products that they are inhaling. As with any recreational drug, users can be injured due to dangerous behavior while they are intoxicated, such as driving under the influence. In some cases, users have died from hypoxia (lack of oxygen), pneumonia, cardiac failure or arrest, or aspiration of vomit.

Variety of "popper" brands, Examples include: alkyl nitrites (sold as "Poppers"), solvents and propellants (including propane, butane, Freon, gasoline, kerosene and toluene)



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