This page discusses the views of Why This Way on drugs. People do not necessarily agree on what constitutes a drug, whether in the sense of recreational drugs or medicinal drugs.
Recreational drugs are often discussed in terms of their potential to form addictions. It can be subjective whether or not drug use constitutes an addiction; one useful defining feature of addiction is when the use of a certain drug is causing problems in a person's life. Another sign of addiction is when the person unsuccessfully tries to stop using the drug.
Addiction can be viewed as a state of being, like a state of mind and behavior, that a person is in, independently of a specific drug or behavior; this viewpoint is reinforced by the way people overcoming one addiction can replace it with a new addiction to a different drug or even a non-drug behavior (like gambling). A state of addiction is outside of a healthy state described in our beliefs, because when a person is dealing with addiction, they feel like their basic needs are not met unless they use a certain drug in a way that is harmful to their health or life.
Drug education is common in the United States, as part of public education, other educational institutions, and to some degree, other public health initiatives or broader campaigns in society.
Why This Way's views on drug use are guided by our rules of communication: we would only support drug education that presents truthful, accurate information. Why This Way does not support the presentation of misinformation or exaggeration in an attempt to scare or dissuade children or teenagers from using drugs. We believe that providing misinformation or an unduly one-sided view of drug use can backfire, making people more vulnerable to fall into patterns of drug abuse.
As an example of this, if drug education presents an oversimplified view that everyone who uses certain drugs (such as cocaine or heroin) will become addicted to them, people who see someone use these drugs a few times without becoming addicted, may be more likely to try using them than if the drug education had presented a more accurate picture which acknowledges that people respond to different drugs in different ways, and that some people are more prone to addiction than others. This more nuanced viewpoint, which is more truthful, can protect people from having a false sense of security that could lead to them trying more dangerous recreational drugs.
Other negative messages in drug education
There can also be other messages included in drug education that we would consider unhealthy or in conflict with our beliefs. For example, when drug education paints a picture (explicitly or implicitly) of recreational drug use as being something that "bad kids" or "bad people" do, this can cause a number of problems. For example, if someone uses drugs, it can lead them to attach a negative label to themselves, which can affect their self-identity or self-image in ways that make them more likely to use more drugs, commit crimes, or act in other ways consistent with a negative self-image.
History and perspective
Views on recreational drug use vary widely culturally, both on a broad scale and in local subcultures, and also vary over time. Examining the history of views on drugs in our own society, and the ways in which different cultures view drugs, can give valuable perspective which can help people to reach a more objective and truthful picture of how recreational drug use impacts people, through separating out biases of our own culture.