What Is Recreational Drug Use?

Recreational drug use means taking substances for their physical or psychoactive benefits, separate from self-medicating, dependency, or addiction. However, it carries specific risks, including the possibility of mental health issues and the development of substance use disorders.

Typically, young adults engage in this behavior without a regular pattern or preference for specific types of drugs, experimenting with whatever substances they can find. Over time, individuals may either move away from recreational drug use or escalate to more serious issues with substance abuse, such as drug overdose.

What Are Recreational Drugs?

Recreational drugs, also called social drugs, are substances used for fun, not for medical reasons or as prescribed medications.

Authorities categorize recreational drugs into legal and illegal types. Legal drugs cover substances like alcohol, tobacco, some prescription medications, and marijuana, varying by location. Abusing prescription drugs without a valid prescription is considered illegal and can result in legal consequences.

People frequently misuse legally obtainable substances like inhalants and kratom, which are intended for purposes other than recreation. Conversely, illegal drugs such as heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, GHB, crack, cocaine, and crystal meth are distinguished by their absence of recognized medical advantages.

Recreational drug use seeks various effects, from stimulation and relaxation to hallucinations. Users may experiment with or mix substances to achieve desired psychoactive outcomes, sometimes leading to accidental misuse due to impaired judgment or misrepresentation of the drug.

recreational drug list

List of Recreational Drugs

Some drugs people use for fun or to escape problems include alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, LSD, ecstasy, pills, speed, meth, and painkillers.

Knowing whether a drug is allowed by law is important because it is never completely safe. Using these drugs the wrong way or mixing them can cause harmful reactions, or even taking too much can be extremely dangerous.

Recreational drugs include:


Alcohol is a drink that many people can buy and is okay to have in most places. It slows down how your brain works.

Drinking alcohol can make you feel relaxed, sleepy, and happy. It can also make you more friendly and confident. However, it may affect your ability to think clearly and slow down your reaction time.


Cocaine is a white powder or a kind that you can smoke called crack cocaine. It makes your heartbeat faster and raises your blood pressure, making you feel more alert, increased energy, confident, and less hungry. Some people use cocaine to drink more alcohol and have fun for a longer time without feeling the effects as much.

Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms, also called shrooms, are a type of mushroom you can eat that changes how you feel and see things. They strengthen colors and sounds and can make you see or feel things that aren’t there, from just a little bit to a lot.


LSD is a drug made in a lab that can come as a liquid, pill, or a piece of paper you dissolve in your mouth. When people take LSD, they go on a very long journey in their mind, seeing and hearing things that aren’t real, which some call an “acid trip.” This can make colors, sounds, and feelings much stronger. Some people think it makes them understand the world in a new way, seeing things differently than before.


People often use ecstasy, a pill made from MDMA, at dance parties or clubs. People take it because it makes them feel incredibly happy, love everything around them more, and feel a strong bond with others.


Benzodiazepines, also called benzos, are calming medicines doctors give to help with worry and panic problems. When people use them just for fun, benzos make them feel relaxed, peaceful, and happy. Common for people to take benzos along with alcohol to increase these feelings.


Amphetamines are stimulant drugs. They are the type of medicine that doctors give to people with ADHD or those who fall asleep a lot when they shouldn’t. When people use these drugs for fun, they do it to feel increased alertness and pay better attention to things. These drugs can also hide how sleepy alcohol makes you feel, so people can end up drinking more than usual.


Methamphetamines, often just called meth or crystal meth, are a stronger, homemade, and not allowed type of amphetamines. They make people feel incredibly energetic and increase their heart rate and blood pressure. Meth also makes people feel more interested in sex and believe they are much stronger than they are and can’t feel pain like usual.


Opioid drugs are strong medications prescribed by doctors for severe pain. Some people also use opioids illegally, like heroin, to dull the brain. People who use them for fun like how they make them feel extremely relaxed and super happy.

recreational drug use

Recreational Drug Use vs. Addiction

People use drugs for various reasons, but addiction is a long-lasting illness that alters the body and mind over time.

The main things that make using drugs sometimes different from having a drug problem include:

  • How often and in what way people use drugs
  • Wanting drugs desperately
  • Needing the drug to feel normal in your body and mind
  • Having more and more problems because of using drugs
  • Feeling sick or bad when you don’t use drugs

Many young people try drugs for fun. Knowing who will end up needing professional help to recover from a serious drug problem is hard. But, there are some signs that show that someone might be more likely to get a long-term drug problem from using drugs just for fun.

Things that can make someone more likely to get addicted include:

  • Friends pushing someone to use drugs often
  • Being around drugs when extremely young
  • Having personal or family problems with drugs before
  • Feeling deeply sad, worried, or having trouble with how you think or feel
  • How a person’s body is composed, including their genes
  • Acting without thinking a lot
  • Going through hard or scary times

The link between using drugs for fun and getting addicted is stronger than many people think. A study that went on for a long time found out that after six months, people who used drugs just for fun four times or less in a month started using drugs every week. They also began using stronger drugs than before and reached a point where doctors would say they had a drug problem.

Addiction Treatment in Southern California

If you or someone you love lives in fear of overdosing, remember there is hope for a different future. At Northridge Addiction Treatment Center, we use trusted techniques to help with addiction and mental health issues. Our main goal is to support your recovery journey.

We have medical detox right here on-site and a full live-in treatment program to get to the heart of your addiction. We use one-on-one and group therapy to help you build the skills and confidence you need for a happy and meaningful life without drugs.

Contact our treatment specialists to start on the path to a new, recovery-focused life.

Find Meaningful Recovery

Our caring and compassionate specialists are eager to help you comfortably navigate this journey to recovery. Our individualized treatment plan, programs, and therapies may be a perfect match for you or your loved one. Let us assist you in living the happy life you deserve. It starts with a phone call.

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