The negative consequences of using drugs “recreationally” far outweigh their short-term pleasures.
First are the physical effects. Marijuana, for instance, may have dangerous long-term effects, including cancers of the head and neck. Amphetamines and cocaine are highly addictive and cause rapid physical deterioration. Barbiturates depress the central nervous system and are so physically addictive that withdrawal can be fatal if someone dependent on them attempts to stop taking them without medical supervision. (Another peculiar danger of barbiturates is the ease with which a person can take a fatal overdose.) Alcohol, too, is highly addictive for persons with a genetic tendency towards alcoholism.
Most drugs that are used for “recreational” purposes are physically addictive to some degree. All of them are psychologically addictive. Because they chemically induce euphoria and an altered state of consciousness, they introduce what has been called the “pendulum effect.” As the effect of the drug wears off, the user pays a price for the experience of a chemically induced “high.” The user’s emotional state following an artificial high is invariably worse than his original one. This produces an slightly greater dose of the drug is needed to duplicate the same effect.1This pendulum effect often results in a vicious cycle of escalating drug use. 2
The term jaded has long been used to describe a person whose normal sensitivities have been dulled by obsessive pursuit of pleasure. Today there is serious concern that at least some artificial highs may cause permanent damage to the nervous system. Chemically induced highs—especially in the case of such powerful drugs as cocaine—may permanently diminish a person’s capacity to experience physical and emotional pleasure. But even if artificial highs cause no permanent damage, they interfere with the development of our ability to experience the legitimate joys and pleasures that God designed to be part of daily living.