The term “recreational” defines as an activity done for enjoyment when one is not working. Skiing, knitting, sporting leagues, and book clubs are examples of recreational activities that can enhance our overall life experience. Recreational is also a word used to describe the casual use of mind-altering substances such as drugs and alcohol. Because recreational drug and alcohol use is often engaged in during social settings, recreational drug and alcohol use is oftentimes perceived as harmless, non habit-forming behavior due to its informal nature and seemingly broad social acceptance
However, a thin line separates the casual use of drugs and alcohol from the potential steep fall into a serious substance-abuse disorder. Substance-abuse disorders manifest when the recurrent use of drugs and/or alcohol causes clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
Why, then, are some people able to casually enjoy a cocktail on the weekend while firing up the grill, while others end up crossing the line from recreational use to addiction? And, when a user’s life is flipped upside down because of their physical and psychological dependence on mind-altering substances, what are they and their loved ones to do?
In this new series, we will take a deeper dive into what decades of psychological and pharmacological research have to tell us about the science behind substance-abuse disorders and addiction, how individuals are affected, and what employers can do to both thwart problematic behavior and to offer aid through established Employee Assistance Programs (EAP).
If you or someone you know is unable to stop using drugs or alcohol, seek a referral from your primary care physician or locate an addiction specialist through the American Society of Addiction Medicine.