How Does Recreational Drug Use Turn Into Addiction?

How Does Recreational Drug Use Turn Into Addiction: Recreational Drug Use vs. Addiction

For many, the leaps from recreational drug use to addiction can seem like a far-reaching one. How do I know if I am an addict? If I use drugs only a few times, can I get addicted? These questions, and questions like these, are extremely common in addiction treatment programs, and we do our best to explain the difference between recreational drug use and addiction. In this article, we are going to take a look at recreational drug use vs addiction, as we try to answer the question “how does recreational drug use turn into addiction?”

How Does Recreational Drug Use Turn Into Addiction: Recreational Drug Use vs. Addiction

Before we can start to understand how can recreational drug use turn into an addiction, we need to take a look at the difference between recreational drug use and addiction.


While it may seem like common knowledge, addiction is most notably identified by an uncharacteristic obsession with the drug, a physical need for the drug, and an unhealthy shift in priorities. For example, someone who is addicted to alcohol will drink despite the number of negative consequences that arise to their drinking. They may receive DUI’s, get banned from certain establishments, face legal troubles, and even start experiencing health issues because of alcohol. In addition, an addict will prioritize their life, placing alcohol on everything. This may mean they decide to see family less and less, stop going to work, and start spending all of their money on substances. These are defining characteristics of someone struggling with addiction.

Recreational Use:

Recreational use, however, is defined by a healthy amount of moderation. While health is an extremely relative term, a great example is a high school and college students. It’s relatively normal in modern society for adolescents to experiment with softer drugs, and alcohol before they come of age. Does this mean all adolescents that experiment are drug addicts? No, of course not, but continued use does make the risk that recreational drug use turns into addiction if they are not careful. Another great example is drinking. Most people can go out to a bar and have a few drinks on the weekends with their friends, however, when they go home the drinking is over. They don’t continue to pour drink after drink until they can’t stand. This is the key component of the difference between recreational drug use and addiction. For an addict, one to many, and a hundred is never enough. It disrupts their lives.

How Does Recreational Drug Use Turn Into Addiction: The Change, Growth, and Risk

With continued drug use, comes a higher and higher risk of addiction. While experimenting with drugs and alcohol may seem harmless, there are a number of contributing factors that can lead someone to transition from a recreational drug user to a full-blown drug addict. For one, there is the physical risk of addiction associated with a number of commonly abused substances. When it comes to physical addiction, the most common and poignant examples are opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. While these drugs may seem extremely different when compared, they all have one specific thing in common: they are highly physically addictive.

Alcohol and benzodiazepines withdrawal symptoms are actually so intense, that many can die during the detox process if they are not supervised. If you are looking at recreational drug use vs addiction, there is no greater distinction in terms of physical addiction than this. Opioids, while not specifically life-endangering, also have intense withdrawal symptoms that drive many recovering addicts to continue their abuse, simply to avoid feeling sick from the sudden lack of chemicals in their bodies.

Aside from the obvious physical symptoms, there is the emotional addiction. Common examples of this are drugs like cocaine. While cocaine isn’t nearly as physically addictive as opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol, it is extremely emotionally addictive. This is because of how the drug affects an addict’s emotions and thought process. Generally speaking, cocaine gives users a sudden burst of energy, confidence, and emotional superiority, that quickly fades, causing many users to re-dose regularly. However, this constant dosing increases the user’s need for the drug, this can cause recreational drug use turn into addiction very quickly.

How Does Recreational Drug Use Turn Into Addiction: Wrapping It All Up

While a lot of this information may seem complicated, the truth of the matter is that the difference between recreational drug use and addiction is a very fine line. It has a lot to do with physical and emotional components, as well as even harder to recognize things like biological predispositions. While all of this can be confusing, there is one question that can easily differentiate an addict from a recreational user: are drugs a higher priority to you than your health, financial well-being, and relationships with friends and family? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then it’s relatively safe to say that you’re struggling with addiction, and need to seek out help to fully recover.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.