Here Are Some Recreational Drugs That Also See Medicinal Use

From weed to LSD, these substances will get you lit and help treat your ailing body.

As long as there are drugs to take, there will be people to consume them. And whether your drugs are legal, illicit, prescribed, or recommended; purchased online, in the street, at a pharmacy, or otherwise, many of us tend to blur the line between medicinal and recreational use. 

Of course, this makes sense when several drugs serve both motives. Keep scrolling to see what we mean. 

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Common Medical Use: Cannabis is employed in treating a host of medical conditions ranging from glaucoma and chronic pain to anxiety, anorexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the awful symptoms associated with cancer, among other ailments.

Common Recreational Use: People have been smoking, eating, vaping, and getting down with weed in a myriad of ways since long before it was as relevant in the national discussion as it is today.

Legal Status: This will differ depending on where you live, but in the United States, marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, with eight states seeing legal recreational use. Weed is still a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, however, and illegal by Federal law.

Interesting Info: Despite the fact that medical marijuana has been legal in some parts of the country for more than 20 years, it is not yet a Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine. As such, doctors have little definitive data and guidance in regard to dosing or recommended use and are still unable to prescribe the herb without risking losing their license to practice medicine.

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MDMA (Molly / Ecstasy)

Common Medical Use: Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, which goes by many names––Molly, moon rocks, root beers, and most commonly ecstasy––has shown promise as a possible treatment for a host of mental disorders. The drug is said to elicit feelings of empathy and a deep connection to one’s surroundings.

Common Recreational Use: MDMA is a club drug, notably popular with fans of electronic dance music and is commonly taken at raves and music festivals. This is problematic as the drug causes the body temperature to rise and can be dangerous if the user is not adequately hydrated. MDMA is also easily imitated, and “ecstasy” is more of a blanket-term applied to a wide-range of chemicals that induce a similar host of feelings rather than a definitive classification of substance. It is nearly impossible to determine purity or quality of the drug on appearance alone, which means street dealers can––and typically do––pass off other chemicals as Molly, sometimes not knowing the difference themselves.

Legal Status: MDMA is currently classified in the United States as a Schedule I narcotic and has no accepted medical use.

Interesting Info: Despite the drug’s DEA designation, MDMA shows promise as a possible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental disorders. Still, in one recent clinical trial that had patients who suffer from PTSD taking molly in combination with non-medical psychotherapy, “67 percent of the MDMA-treated patients showed no signs of these common symptoms a year out; in the placebo group, just 23 percent showed that kind of improvement.”

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Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)

Common Medical Use: Psilocybin, the psychotropic compound in “magic mushrooms,” particularly when taken in measured, micro-doses shows potential in treating various mental disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Common Recreational Use: People eat shrooms to escape the here and now, trip out, hallucinate, or to experience a state of being outside oneself.

Legal Status: In the United States, psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Interesting Info: According to results gleaned from self-reported micro-dosing experiments, where more than 1,000 people submitted their experiences to renowned psychedelic researcher Dr. James Fadiman, “microdosing can be an aid for productivity, and it can provide relief for treatment-resistant depression.” It can empower one to be a “better version of themself.”

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Common Medical Use: Lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as acid or LSD, has no accepted medical use, but shows promise as a treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, and other mental conditions.

Common Recreational Use: People take acid for its trippy, psychedelic effects.

Legal Status: LSD is a Schedule I Drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Interesting Info: LSD trips, and acid-induced psychedelic experiences can sometimes last for more than 18 hours, and feel like they actually go on forever. Here’s why.

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Common Medical Use: Local anesthesia due to numbing effect.

Common Recreational Use: Cocaine is taken recreationally mostly by users hoping to take advantage of its energy-boosting and euphoria-inducing effects, which can sometimes enable one to consume more alcohol, feel more confident, and stay up later.

Legal Status: In the United States, cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means it has some accepted medical use, but you’ll still get in hella trouble if you’re “standing on the corner slangin’ cain.”

Interesting Info: One of cocaine’s most notable fans was Dr. Sigmund Frued. It was at one point an ingredient in Coca Cola and “caught on as an 'intellectual beverage' among well-off whites."

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Ayahuasca (Dimethyltryptamine / DMT)

Common Medical Use: Spiritual Healing

Common Recreational Use: Like most psychedelic drugs, ayahuasca and peyote are taken by users seeking out-of-body experiences oftentimes described by said psychonauts as a "mental reset," or "vision quest."

Legal Status: This is a complex answer. According to reporting from VICE, ayahuasca is "an uncontrolled substance. But DMT, which can be extracted from the plants, is a controlled Schedule 1 drug by the DEA. Ayahuasca itself is not a scheduled drug, but it's legal in a religious and spiritual setting. So, simply stated, ayahuasca is legal if your intentions are sincerely religious." The cactus plant peyote, on the other hand, is considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, though it is legal for spiritual use under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. 

Interesting Info: Since ayahuasca (and most other plants containing DMT) see strict policing, the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education created the The Ayahuasca Defense Fund in 2015, which defends shamanic use and users of the drug around the world.

Nitrous Oxide

Common Medical Use: Local anesthesia 

Common Recreational Use: Users of nitrous oxide––commonly called "whippets"–– inhale the gas for a brief euphoric effect.

Legal Status: Nitrous oxide is banned for personal use in the U.K. under the Psychoactive Substances Act. In the United States, it is sold legally for culinary use and at head shops.

Interesting Info: In the last few years, a wave of nitrous thefts at hospitals and veterinary clinics has swept across Britain. And there is a thriving black market for the gas, which is commonly sold by-the-balloon at raves, clubs, and dance parties.