The three types of drug user

By Synesthesiac · Sep 14, 2010 · ·
  1. Synesthesiac
    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.

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  1. Synaps
    You split it into medicinal, recreational and enhancing use of drugs. I agree with this. It does seem like you've forgotten some important things though:

    Most medicinal use of drugs are done under the supervision of a doctor, which is a person highly educated and certified to know how drugs work, what they can be used for, what they should not be used for and what their side-effects are. They base their knowledge on approved science which again has been written with scientific accuracy. Therefore, medicinal use of any drugs should ideally always be conducted under the supervision of a doctor with knowledge of those drugs. When people choose not to do this, and instead choose to join this forum for advice, it is primarily due to three different reasons:

    1) Using it for medicinal purposes is merely an excuse to use it for recreational purposes. This is probably most common reason on this forum as it also attracts a lot of (former) recreational drug users which naturally, are attempting to find a reason to use drugs better than the socially stigmatized "just for fun"-reason.
    2) The drug intended to be used is not a drug the doctor can help the patient with. This can be either due to the drug being unapproved for the purposes the patient requests, the doctor being unwilling to go through the treatment with the patient due to risks involved or the costs of going to the doctor is prohibitively expensive compared to getting the drug through other means. This often overlaps with 1).
    3) The drug is scheduled as available without doctor advice due to risks associated with the drug are considered insignificant to such a degree that use does not require doctor supervision.

    I believe 3) is irrelevant in this discussion as it is rarely considered an issue, nor do I think this was the group you had in mind when writing the entry.

    I believe we can write off the whole of 1) as a group that should not use drugs medicinally. This is worrysome, as these likely make up a very large portion of the members of this forum.

    The group of 2) may do what is right for them, or they may be misinformed and make irrational choices...

    This was going to be a pretty long post, but oh I trailed off :) I'm a drug user that fits into every category you mentioned, and in the end, I think I fail at every single one. I'm not going to lie and say drugs are good for me. That I'm not as bad as "those junkies". But hey, I'm honest about it ain't I?

    This post was eventually going to be epic and go through every part of your post systematically, like sober professionals do. I'm hoping that the reader managed to get something out of what I written. It's constructive criticism to the part about medicinal drug use Synesthesiac wrote, mostly a comment about forgetting the most normal drug use of all in the Western world, the professional one. Of obvious reasons, the only licit one.

    Edit: SWIM looks over this again and realizes that it might be misinterpreted. SWIM enjoyed the blog post very much and found it very interesting. SWIM also realizes he did a very stupid mistake he hopes goes past the moderators because the post is too big so he wont be arsed to fix it :[ Delete it if SWIY must.
  2. dyingtomorrow
    That was an extemely well written and interesting read. I think your three categories pretty much nails it - as medicine, for fun, or for productivity. Can't think of another significant reason. Nice entry!
  3. Porkinson
    I believe you have forgotten those who do it out of curiosity. Though I suppose it might not be a main category, I thought it deserved a mention.
  4. izzy31
    SWIM uses drugs for all 3 reasons at the same time. He takes speed medicinally for ADHD to enhance his creativity and have a good time
  5. Code9
    I enjoyed reading this quite a bit.
  6. Synesthesiac
    You seem to be absolutely correct. If I could re-post the op the fourth section would definitely be scientists that use drugs out of academic curiosity and also just general research curiosity into the effects of new chems. The reason why is that this is swims main motivation to do some of the new novel RC's on the market too.
  7. salviablue
    Excellent post, however, I think there is one category overlooked, those whom take drugs because of a perceived social status or peer pressure. There are many I have known that would not really fit into one of those categories, they don't really know why they take certain drugs, other than "well, that's what everyone else does", or "it's just what done". I.e. "well, its alcohol out on the town, ecstasy at a rave or club, weed for chilling or destressing at home," etc.

    It's perceived as the thing to do, but the person may not be doing it from curiosity, or for fun, as they may have as much fun with out, and are only "using" because they feel it is expwcted, and its not done from any perceived medical needs either.

    The raging fury uses different things for diffe4ent reasons depending on the circumstances. He sees drugs as one of the most versatile things available to us. He can 'use' where as he views them just as an alternative to say watching telly or reading a book, which for him, most pleasure pursuits are not indulged as 'distractions' or for escapism, but actively sought as a means to life. He finds these pursuits to be just as important as eating or sleeping or even breathing.

    He can also use drugs as medical aids, or tools for assisting tasks or enhancing enjoyment or ability, or just for variety, maybe a day out of the blue in a slightly different state, like choosing to take a different car out for the day, or a different tint on ones glasses etc.
    But mostly its for serious exploration of head space avnd 'mental-reality' relations, or just plane old fun in another reality (that one is escapism).
  8. Synesthesiac
    Would there be any point posting this as a thread somewhere on the forum? I just noticed that it seems to have got quite a lot of views for a blog, but im not sure where to put it ... I'll also add some extra parts based on the good feedback I got here.
  9. Synesthesiac
    I would say that people that are effected that much by other people and peer pressure are medicating their insecurities and social anxiety, they have to do drugs just to fit in with the group. Not sure if it would be a mental illness or not (if so nearly all people have this to an extent), but I'd still count this as medicating with a drug to cure your insecurities.
  10. Heretic.Ape.
    Nice post, reminds me of Monkey's meandering through fun exploration, to self-medicating, to self-destructive abuse, to sobriety, and back to a more experienced, educated and responsible use and self-medication.

    I was thinking just the other day about seeing people go through similar patterns, seeings bits and turns of it in people's posts, reminding me of the little monk going through similar mind-states (not always the most flattering either, lol).

    Anyway, I babble.

    Re posting in forum: I was also struck by how many views this has had. I would say either euphoric mind somewhere, or SFA.
  11. Sassy88
    Great post....however my pet ferret keeps it simple. There are basically TWO camps. People use drugs to either :

    Enhance their lives OR
    Escape their lives.

    She finds every reason for using drugs will fit into either category. Not too complicated. Using drugs medicinally would fall under 'enhance' since they are being used to just stay normal, and avoid illness. Those using drugs under peer pressure are also 'enhancing' their lives- their social lives, that is. And those using drugs out of depression, boredom or other mainly psychological reasons ( including the pursuit of euphoria )are probably 'escaping' their lives- since they find their regular feelings unpleasant and insufficient.

    Of course ,she realizes there is a gradient scale of 'escaping' which can run from 'mildly escaping' to 'totally escaping.' Using drugs to enhance and/or mildly escape probably strikes the best balance when using drugs recreationally.
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