Drugs, Alcohol & Social Acceptance

Some drugs are more socially acceptable than others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re healthier for you. In fact, there’s quite a bit of debate as to why certain substances are more or less socially acceptable.

Drugs like alcohol, for example, are almost entirely accepted in our society. Despite this, alcohol is a very dangerous substance, highly liable to lead to risky situations, and can cause fatal withdrawal symptoms that need to be treated at a drug detox center in San Diego.

Much less dangerous drugs, such as marijuana, are or were considered socially unacceptable for many years.

Socially Acceptable Substances & Drugs

The most socially acceptable substances and drugs are those that are used the most frequently. In fact, these substances are consumed so often that most people don’t even acknowledge their status as a drug.

Some of the most common and socially acceptable drugs include:


Nicotine, the main active ingredient in cigarettes, is a highly addictive psychostimulant. It is socially acceptable for the most part, although not everyone approves of smoking. Nicotine is available in a number of different forms: cigarettes, chewing tobacco, snuff, gum, lozenges, and patches.

Nicotine is addictive, but withdrawal effects are not dangerous or debilitating. Nicotine itself is relatively benign in terms of effects and does not cause people to act irrationally.


Alcohol is a very commonly-used substance despite the obvious issues associated with it. Alcohol is highly toxic when consumed in large amounts. Intoxication from alcohol can lead to serious side effects, blackouts, irrational or unwanted behavior, reduced inhibitions, addiction, and many other problems.

Alcohol likely remains legal and socially acceptable because it’s a very suitable drug for stress relief after a long work week. It helps to encourage socialization and can even foster bonding between people who would otherwise not get along, such as coworkers.


Caffeine is another substance consumed on a regular basis. A large portion of people is addicted to caffeine and require it to function on a daily basis. Despite this widespread physical dependence, caffeine addiction is often unacknowledged.

Caffeine is acceptable because it does not cause drastic changes in behavior or actions. Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, fatigue, and lost motivation, but nothing akin to the withdrawal associated with drugs like opioids.

Socially Unacceptable Drugs

Most drugs deemed unacceptable to society are those that are criminalized. Regardless of their effects on the body, if a drug is illegal, one must go against the grain of society to obtain it. This nonconformist attitude is unsettling to those who wish to remain orderly, and thus these drugs have become socially unacceptable.

In some cases, these drugs are illegal for safety purposes. Substances like PCP are extremely dangerous; opioids (even when prescribed legally) are addictive enough that they can easily destroy someone’s life.

However, even relatively safe substances like marijuana have been considered socially unacceptable at times.

One must also look into countries like Portugal, where all drugs have been decriminalized for personal use. Here, drugs are considered in the same light as other social issues: something to be accepted, acknowledged and worked through with the help of social aid.


The legality or social acceptance of a drug doesn’t necessarily reflect its safety profile. Some socially acceptable drugs, like alcohol, are quite dangerous. On the other hand, some illegal and socially unacceptable drugs are quite safe.

If you struggle with an addiction to anything, legal or otherwise, don’t hesitate to reach out to a drug detox center San Diego, CA.

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