Recreational drug use

Adriaen Brouwer, TheSmokers (1636)
Edgar Degas, L'Absinthe (1876)
Bhang eaters from India c. 1790. Bhang is an edible preparation of cannabis native to the Indian subcontinent. It has been used in food and drink as early as 1000 BCE by Hindus in ancient India.
A man smoking cannabis in Kolkata, India
A rational harm assessment of drugs<ref>{{Cite journal|last1=Blakemore|first1=Colin|last2=Saulsbury|first2=William|last3=King|first3=Leslie A.|last4=Nutt|first4=David|date=2007-03-24|title=Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse|url=|journal=The Lancet|language=en|volume=369|issue=9566|pages=1047–1053|doi=10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60464-4|issn=0140-6736|pmid=17382831|s2cid=5903121}}</ref>
This 1914 photo shows intoxicated men at a sobering-up room
alt=A chart showing dependence potential versus safety ratio.|An analysis of the dangers of drugs<ref>{{Cite book|url=|title=Drugs and Society: U.S. Public Policy|last=Fish|first=Jefferson M.|date=2006|publisher=Rowman & Littlefield|isbn=9780742542457|language=en}}</ref>
Total recorded alcohol per capita consumption (15+), in liters of pure alcohol
Caffeinated alcoholic beverages, such as Vodka Red Bull, are widespread and legal routes of administration for multiple drugs.
Insufflation of powdered drug
Injection of heroin
Cocaine is a commonly used stimulant
alt=A chart showing relative drug harm.|A chart showing relative drug harm.

Use of a psychoactive drug to induce an altered state of consciousness either for pleasure or for some other casual purpose or pastime by modifying the perceptions, feelings, and emotions of the user.

- Recreational drug use

500 related topics



A 21 mg patch applied to the left arm. The Cochrane Collaboration finds that nicotine replacement therapy increases a quitter's chance of success by 50–60%, regardless of setting.
Possible side effects of nicotine.
Effect of nicotine on dopaminergic neurons.
Effect of nicotine on chromaffin cells
Urinary metabolites of nicotine, quantified as average percentage of total urinary nicotine.
Structure of protonated nicotine (left) and structure of the counterion benzoate (right). This combination is used in some vaping products to increase nicotine delivery to the lung.
Nicotine biosynthesis
Cigarette ad featuring baseball player Joe Dimaggio in 1941

Nicotine is a naturally produced alkaloid in the nightshade family of plants (most predominantly in tobacco and Duboisia hopwoodii) and is widely used recreationally as a stimulant and anxiolytic.


Heroin paraphernalia in a Jack Daniels tin
Advertising sign from Bayer for use in US drug stores, dating from before the federal prohibition of Heroin in 1924
A 2010 study ranking various illegal and legal drugs based on statements by drug-harm experts. Heroin was found to be the second overall most dangerous drug.
Short-term effects of usage
Long-term effects of intravenous usage, including – and indeed primarily because of – the effects of the contaminants common in illegal heroin and contaminated needles.
Black tar heroin
Advertisement for Bayer Heroin
Bayer Heroin bottle
International drug routes
Afghanistan opium poppy cultivation, 1994–2016 (hectares)
Primary worldwide producers of heroin
Addiction experts in psychiatry, chemistry, pharmacology, forensic science, epidemiology, and the police and legal services engaged in delphic analysis regarding 20 popular recreational drugs. Heroin was ranked 1st in dependence, physical harm, and social harm.
Drug overdoses killed more than 70,200 in the US in 2017, with heroin involved in 15,482 of those deaths.<ref name=NIDA-deaths>{{cite web | url = | title = Overdose Death Rates | archive-url = | archive-date=28 November 2015 | work = National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) }}</ref>
US yearly overdose deaths involving heroin.<ref name=NIDA-deaths/>
US yearly deaths from all opioid drugs. Included in this number are opioid analgesics, along with heroin and illicit .<ref name=NIDA-deaths/>

Heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine and diamorphine among other names, is an opioid used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects.


About the stimulant drug.

Desoxyn (Methamphetamine Hydrochloride) 100 tablets.
A 2010 study ranking various illegal and legal drugs based on statements by drug-harm experts. Methamphetamine was found to be the fourth most damaging to society.
A suspected case of meth mouth
This diagram depicts the neuroimmune mechanisms that mediate methamphetamine-induced neurodegeneration in the human brain. The NF-κB-mediated neuroimmune response to methamphetamine use which results in the increased permeability of the blood–brain barrier arises through its binding at and activation of sigma receptors, the increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), reactive nitrogen species (RNS), and damage-associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs), the dysregulation of glutamate transporters (specifically, EAAT1 and EAAT2) and glucose metabolism, and excessive Ca2+ ion influx in glial cells and dopamine neurons.
This illustration depicts the normal operation of the dopaminergic terminal to the left, and the dopaminergic terminal in the presence of methamphetamine to the right. Methamphetamine reverses the action of the dopamine transporter (DAT) by activating TAAR1 (not shown). TAAR1 activation also causes some of the dopamine transporters to move into the presynaptic neuron and cease transport (not shown). At VMAT2 (labeled VMAT), methamphetamine causes dopamine efflux (release).
Shards of pure methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as crystal meth
Pervitin, a methamphetamine brand used by German soldiers during World War II, was dispensed in these tablet containers.
U.S. drug overdose related fatalities in 2017 were 70,200, including 10,333 of those related to psychostimulants (including methamphetamine).

Methamphetamine (contracted from N-methylamphetamine) is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is mainly used as a recreational drug and less commonly as a second-line treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity.


Human behavior in which an individual uses a substance or any exogenous influence to self-administer treatment for physical or psychological ailments.


The field of psychology surrounding the use of psychoactive drugs is often specifically in relation to the use of recreational drugs, alcohol, comfort food, and other forms of behavior to alleviate symptoms of mental distress, stress and anxiety, including mental illnesses or psychological trauma, is particularly unique and can serve as a serious detriment to physical and mental health if motivated by addictive mechanisms.


Addiction experts in psychiatry, chemistry, pharmacology, forensic science, epidemiology, and the police and legal services engaged in delphic analysis regarding 20 popular recreational drugs. Ecstasy was ranked 18th in dependence, physical harm, and social harm.
MDMA induced transporter reversal on human serotonin transporters (SERT), which leads to serotonin release.
In the serotonergic neurons of humans, extracellular MDMA releases serotonin via serotonin transporters (SERT). Intracellular MDMA inhibits VMAT2 and, to a much lesser extent, MAO-A.
Main metabolic pathways of MDMA in humans.
Alexander and Ann Shulgin in December 2011
A 1995 Vibe Tribe rave in Erskineville, New South Wales, Australia being broken up by police. MDMA use spread globally along with rave culture.
UNODC map showing the use of ecstasy by country in 2014 for the global population aged 15–64

3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly seen in pill form (ecstasy) and crystal form (molly), is a psychoactive drug primarily used for recreational purposes.


Tropane alkaloid and stimulant drug obtained primarily from the leaves of two coca species native to South America, Erythroxylum coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense.

Cocaine hydrochloride
Lines of cocaine prepared for snorting
A 2010 study ranking various illegal and legal drugs based on statements by drug-harm experts. Crack cocaine and cocaine was found to be the third and fifth overall most dangerous drugs respectively.
Side effects of chronic cocaine use
A pile of cocaine hydrochloride
A piece of compressed cocaine powder
A woman smoking crack cocaine
"Rocks" of crack cocaine
Biological source of cocaine molecule in the context of the tropane class of molecules. The biological source of each tropane alkaloid is indicated by species, and below that a phylogenetic map is provided.
Biosynthesis of N-methyl-pyrrolinium cation
Biosynthesis of cocaine
Robinson biosynthesis of tropane
Reduction of tropinone
Coca leaf in Bolivia
"Cocaine toothache drops", 1885 advertisement of cocaine for dental pain in children
Advertisement in the January 1896 issue of McClure's Magazine for Burnett's Cocaine "for the hair".
Pope Leo XIII purportedly carried a hip flask of the coca-treated Vin Mariani with him, and awarded a Vatican gold medal to Angelo Mariani.
In this 1904 advice column from the Tacoma Times, "Madame Falloppe" recommended that cold sores be treated with a solution of borax, cocaine, and morphine.
Women purchase cocaine capsules in Berlin, 1929
D.C. Mayor Marion Barry captured on a surveillance camera smoking crack cocaine during a sting operation by the FBI and D.C. Police.
Drug overdoses killed more than 70,200 Americans in 2017, with cocaine overdoses making up 13,942 of those deaths.
United States CBP police inspect a seized shipment of cocaine
The U.S. Coast Guard in Miami offloading confiscated cocaine
Cocaine smuggled in a charango, 2008
Cocaine adulterated with fruit flavoring
Opioid involvement in cocaine overdose deaths. The green line is cocaine and any opioid (top line in 2017). The gray line is cocaine without any opioids (bottom line in 2017). The yellow line is cocaine and other (middle line in 2017).<ref name=NIDA-deaths>{{cite web | url = | title = Overdose Death Rates | archive-url =| archive-date=28 November 2015 | work =  By National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) }}</ref>
Delphic analysis regarding 20 popular recreational drugs based on expert opinion. Cocaine was ranked the 2nd in dependence and physical harm and 3rd in social harm.<ref name="Lancet">{{cite journal|vauthors = Nutt D, King LA, Saulsbury W, Blakemore C|title = Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse|journal = Lancet|volume = 369|issue = 9566|pages = 1047–53|date = March 2007|pmid = 17382831|doi = 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60464-4|s2cid = 5903121|author-link4 = Colin Blakemore|author-link1 = David Nutt }}</ref>

It is most commonly used as a recreational drug and euphoriant.

Lysergic acid diethylamide

Psychedelic drug.

Skeletal formula of LSD
Some symptoms reported for LSD
Addiction experts in psychiatry, chemistry, pharmacology, forensic science, epidemiology, and the police and legal services engaged in delphic analysis regarding 20 popular recreational drugs. LSD was ranked 14th in dependence, 15th in physical harm, and 13th in social harm.
Binding affinities of LSD for various receptors. The lower the dissociation constant (Ki), the more strongly LSD binds to that receptor (i.e. with higher affinity). The horizontal line represents an approximate value for human plasma concentrations of LSD, and hence, receptor affinities that are above the line are unlikely to be involved in LSD's effect. Data averaged from data from the Ki Database
The four possible stereoisomers of LSD. Only (+)-LSD is psychoactive.
White on White blotters (WoW) for sublingual administration
Albert Hofmann in 2006
Psychedelic art attempts to capture the visions experienced on a psychedelic trip
Glassware seized by the DEA
Five doses of LSD, often called a "five strip"
LSD blotter acid mimic actually containing DOC
Different blotters which could possibly be mimics

It is used mainly as a recreational drug or for spiritual reasons.

Prohibition of drugs

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in a training exercise
Huichol religion worshiped the god of Peyote, a drug.
A painting of opium ships sailing into China. Chinese attempts to suppress opium smuggling sparked the First Opium War.
Papaver somniferum. The sale of drugs in the UK was regulated by the Pharmacy Act of 1868.
Thomas Brassey was appointed the head of the Royal Opium Commission in 1893 to investigate the opium trade and make recommendations on its legality.
Newspaper article from The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana in 1912 reporting on a drug arrest, a month after the International Opium Convention was signed and ratified at The Hague.
American drug law enforcement agents detain a man in 2005.
Opium poppies growing in Afghanistan, a major source of drugs today.
People marching in the streets of Cape Town against the prohibition of cannabis in South Africa, May 2015
Total incarceration in the United States by year
US cannabis arrests by year
Coffeeshop in Amsterdam
Dareton police search the vehicle of a suspected drug smuggler in Wentworth, New South Wales, Australia
Protest against the Philippine drug war. The protesters are holding placards which urge Rodrigo Duterte to stop killing drug users.

The prohibition of drugs through sumptuary legislation or religious law is a common means of attempting to prevent the recreational use of certain intoxicating substances.

Psilocybin mushroom

Psilocybin mushrooms; commonly known as magic mushrooms, mushrooms, are a polyphyletic informal group of fungi that contain psilocybin which turns into psilocin upon ingestion.

Psilocybe semilanceata
Pre-Columbian mushroom stones
Psilocybe mexicana
Global distribution of 100+ psychoactive species of genus Psilocybe mushrooms.
Despite risks, mushrooms do much less damage in the UK than other recreational drugs.
A bag of 1.5 grams of dried psilocybe cubensis mushrooms.
Psilocybe allenii

Psilocybin mushrooms are also used as recreational drugs.

Convention on Psychotropic Substances

United Nations treaty designed to control psychoactive drugs such as amphetamine-type stimulants, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and psychedelics signed in Vienna, Austria on 21 February 1971.

MDMA (Ecstasy) pills. The Convention allows only government-approved medical and scientific uses of this and other substances.
Despite its well-known presence in the rave scene, ketamine remains uncontrolled internationally due to its importance as an anesthetic in veterinary medicine.
Article 32 makes an exception for peyote and other wild psychotropic plants, to protect use in religious rituals in case such plants themselves were in the future added to Schedule I.
Psilocybin mushrooms are not controlled by the Convention, but the drugs contained in them are.
LSD and equipment used in its manufacture are subject to seizure under Article 22.
Crystal meth has emerged as a commonly abused drug, from the American and European rave scenes to East Asia.

During the 1960s such drugs became widely available, and government authorities opposed this for numerous reasons, arguing that along with negative health effects, drug use led to lowered moral standards.