When it comes to substance abuse, most people are unable to exercise self-control. Think about how many times you’ve heard someone say “I’m only having one drink,” only to witness them drunk by the end of the night.
In the same way that people lowball the amount of alcohol they end up consuming, illicit drug users who start out limiting their drug use to weekends can quickly spiral into daily use.
A False Sense of Control
Researchers found that 11 percent of participants said they only used drugs on Friday (night), Saturday or Sunday. However, when these participants were interviewed six months later, 54 percent of them had slid into weekday drug use.
Only 27 percent reported abstaining from drugs entirely in the follow-up.
Recognizing a Problem
“When I was working in clinical care I would have patients say, ‘I just use drugs on the weekend’ or ‘I’m just a recreational user’ as if that doesn’t matter so much,” said lead author Judith Bernstein, a professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health.
“I think clinicians need to understand a little more than perhaps they do now how these patterns change over time.”
Unfortunately, many doctors don’t note weekend drug use as a problem when it’s revealed by the patient.
Abstinence is the Best Option
Bernstein also noted that, because it’s not recorded, they’re also unlikely to talk about any changes in drug use during future visits. This is problematic not only due to the danger for developing an addiction, but also because this drug use can diminish the effectiveness of certain prescribed medications for blood pressure or diabetes.
Few people are able to limit their use to designated days over a long period of time. What may start out as weekend experimentation can quickly turn into a daily habit that ultimately hands out some very serious consequences.
When it comes to drug use, abstinence is always the best policy.
Additional Reading: Overdose Prevention: Don’t Wait Until it’s too Late