In medical practice, the term "drug abuse" is typically understood to describe habitual consumption with harmful consequences to the user. It's also sometimes used to describe non-therapeutic or unintended use of a medical drug. But when it comes to illegal substances, the press routinely -- and ignorantly – calls it full-blown "drug abuse," even if you try the substance just one time.
Here's the latest example from a CBS News story about LSD:
In 2009, the last time data was taken, 779,000 Americans age 12 and older said they had abused LSD at least once in the previous year.
I have a feeling that very few of these 779,000 people would consider themselves drug abusers. It says right there that you only had to drop acid one time in '09 to get counted, and as far as I'm concerned, doing acid one time doesn't make you much of a drug abuser. If it did, then we'd have to come up with a whole new term for some of the people I've had the good fortune of encountering at Burning Man, or for that matter, liberal arts college.
But as silly as all of this is, it gets worse when you take the context into account. The above quote, tragically, is actually the last line contained in this otherwise interesting article:
LSD should be considered for alcoholism treatment, study says
(CBS News) Decades ago, researchers would examine LSD's effects on various health conditions including pain, anxiety, and alcoholism. A new study suggests it might be time to revisit the mind-altering drug's therapeutic uses. The study found lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as acid, could help serious alcoholics sober up…
What we have here is entire article that goes on for several paragraphs about renewed scientific interest in the therapeutic benefits of LSD, only to conclude by implying idiotically that every single LSD user in the country is a drug abuser. Did it not occur to the author that some – perhaps a substantial portion – of the people using LSD were doing so for the same sort of therapeutic purposes being studied by these scientists? If the drug is in fact beneficial, then maybe, just maybe, people could be using for its benefits rather than as part of a pattern of abuse?
Seriously, this isn't even complicated. If CBS News has a hard time grasping the concept of beneficial, non-abusive drug use, my first recommendation would be to reread the first 8 paragraphs of their own article.