Dr. Mel Pohl shares if there is such a thing as recreational drug use.
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Is There Such a Thing as Recreational Drug Use My name is Mel Pohl. I am a family practitioner, addiction specialist. I am the Medical Director of the Las Vegas Recovery Center. I work with people who have drug addiction and also people who have chronic pain and substance problems. A lot of times patients ask me or doctors ask me, “Is there such a thing as recreational drug use?” I think we live in a culture that wants to modify the way we feel with substances. I don’t think that’s a particularly great thing, but I deal with people who have addiction which is a sub-population of people who start with medication or drugs and end up overusing them and having negative consequences from that use and continue to use despite those consequences. So there’s a spectrum of drug use. Certainly it starts with any use, and if you want to have a drink to relax or if you want to do a little social cocaine, you really have to look at what the potential consequences are. If you are somebody who is living in our society and you are doing cocaine and it’s found in your urine, you might lose your job. Cocaine is an illegal substance. So it’s really not with judgment that I approach the recreational drug problem but simply with a practical notion of what’s going to be acceptable and what are the potential consequences, and then is it worth it to you? Certainly people drink to relax. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but I have to tell you that if we eliminated all mood-altering drugs from our culture, I think we would have a more live culture. The way I see recreational drug use becomes a problem when the use causes difficulties, problems in life. So if you are using a medication to enhance the way you feel and you end up feeling worse, that would be a problem. If you are using a medication and increasing the dose to give you the desired effect, that’s called tolerance and I think that’s a problem. If you are using a medication or you are using alcohol, you drink three drinks, drive home and get stopped and get a DUI–that’s a huge problem. So, you know, on what side of that do you want to stop is really the question. Limiting yourself to a small amount of a substance that’s legal keeps you on the safe side of that. The other issue is prescription medications. Sleeping medications and pain medications, certain people find that they are actually taking those medications to feel better, feel energized, feel less anxious, feel a sense of well being, and I think that’s a potential drug problem. Those drugs are prescribed for a purpose, and if you are using them outside that purpose I think you have a potential problem.