Alcohol and other drugs may be used in a socially accepted or medically authorized manner to modify or control mood or state of mind. Examples include having a drink with friends or taking an anti-anxiety agency as prescribed by a physician. Described below are different ways that people use alcohol and other drugs without necessarily becoming addicted.

  • Experimental use – Out of curiosity and/or at the urging of peers, individuals may try drinking or using drugs illegally. If the illegal drug use is not repeated, or discontinues after a short time, such experimentation may not be problematic. Likewise, deciding to drink alcoholic beverages after early experimentation is not problematic for most adults.
  • Social/Recreational use – Drinking alcoholic beverages is permitted in American society, and some excessive use may even be condoned. If use doesn’t cause problems for the user, or those around him/her, most people would consider such use to be social or recreational. Some use marijuana in a similar manner–only in certain social or recreational situations and without immediate adverse consequences. However, marijuana use is illegal, except in a few states.
  • As a stress reliever – Many people use alcohol or other drugs to help them cope with pressure or stress. If this type of use is infrequent and doesn’t create more stress or other difficulties for the individual or those around him, it may not lead to addiction. However, alcoholism and drug addiction often begin with relief drinking.
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