Been thinking a lot recently about how to categorize drug users using the criteria of why they use drugs. Seems to me there are three main categories.
Drugs. Why do people use them? The answer of course varies between each person, most people just use them for some casual recreational fun, but there is always one consistent group of drug users that are using drugs as medication; to try to make themselves happy and content with a normally boring, depressing or anxiety ridden life.
To these people drugs offer a novel way out of their predicament. They are able to medicate any mental annoyances with the drug that suits their needs. Most of these users are able to control their use and never stray from drug use to drug abuse, so they remain adequately in control of their medication. However there is always a consistant subgroup that lacks the knowledge and adequate education about drug use to use their drugs properly, and thus end up abusing them; and there are some users that have such major mental illnesses that their level of drug use to cure their mental wellbeing simply has to be classed as drug abuse. And for the more controlled drug users that medicate with drugs there appears to be a mental hurdle they must overcome before being fully at ease with their drug use. They appear to have two main options: Keep taking the drug that solves their issues for the rest of their lives, or use their time while on the drug to address the issue that made them use it in the first place.
The second option is the obviously preferrable one. The first, an entire life spent high on a drug of choice, will likely come with health risks increasing in severity with age, and with most drugs tollerance and increasing side effects with increasing dosages are a major stumbling point for this goal. The second gives them the option of stopping their use of it in the future when it is no longer needed. Most drug users I would think fall into the second category, as few drug users are determined to keep using for their entire life but realise that at some point the 'good times', so to speak, have to end. There are of course a few drug users that plan on never stopping and settle for a shorter but arguably more enjoyable life abusing/using drugs.
For those users that manage to address and fully solve all the issues that they started using drugs due to they can either settle for a life of sobriety or they can join the recreational drug users group. Very few people seem to settle for the life of sobriety. They seem happy with their once weekly drink of alcohol, their morning coffee, the occasional spliff or an occasional line of their drug of choice. The reason they take the drug is not due to any clinically significant mental shortcomings or insecurities but for the simple reason to have some fun, lower their inhibitions, and generally enhance their everyday experience. These users (that have taken the step from medicating to recreational use) will tend to be even more responsible in their drug use than standard recreational users, as they will generally be better educated about drugs from their previous use of them as medication.
Another (third) main reason that people may use drugs that is not really recreational, neither really medicinal, but is for productive or creative reasons. In the above examples the coffee drinker would likely be in this category as they do not see their drug use as an excuse for fun, rather a practical way to wake themselves up or to aid their concentration at work. An artist that makes a living from their work might find it hard to be as creative as they usually are after smoking some cannabis or taking a threshold dose of LSD. A public speaker may find it hard to speak infront of large audiences without the aid of some propranolol or a benzodiazepine of their choice. Often, especially in the last example, a doctor may see this as a suitable case to prescribe the drug to the user, implying a slight medicinal aspect to this category that seems only applicable in very situation specific cases. Some may argue not being able to speak infront of large audiences implies a disorder needing treatment with medicinal drugs, whereas some would say its a perfectly rational anxiety. Users of non recreational cognitive enhancing drugs like nootropics fit very snugly into this third group.
... Well, thats my opinion on the matter anyway. Constructive critisism welcome. And to make this relevant to swim he would say that he started off his drug use as recreational smoking weed (daily) in his teens. Later he started medicating the social anxiety disorder he had developed as a young adult (along with depression) with various drugs. The mental severity of the problems being of such a magnitude that his use definitely strayed into drug abuse, for a good year or two. Following his realization of the above as he has matured swim has now been stone cold sober for a month after tackling head on (with the help of drugs used as medication) the reasons why he was using them.
Now, many years after starting using drugs, swim finally thinks he is ready to join the responsible recreational drug user category. That is if he ever decides to dip his foot back into the wonderful world of drug use again. No real temptation at the minute. Swim is high as a kite on life.
But, as life is cut with all sorts of crap, whereas most drugs swim can get are not, swims sure that he will soon be returning to his psychonautical endeavors. And with a much more responsible and respectful attitude.
The most important part of a responsible drug users life seems, to me now, to be the long periods taken without using any drugs. The purpose of these being not just pharmacologically and neurologically based on normalisation of brain chemistry, but psychological; so the drug user can be sure that no new psychological dependance on drugs has been formed.