The most frightening aspect of anxious flight from the real world and its tensions is the flight into drug dependence. In many ways there is a similarity between alcoholic flight from reality and drug addiction. However, in the case of the drug addict, personality deterioration is acute rather than chronic and hopes of remedial therapy rather less likely. The drug addict also places himself, by the illegality of his action, in a position which from the very start is a point or two further removed from the real world of ordinary people and happenings.
At the present time we talk about drug addiction under two main headings: addiction to soft drugs and addiction to hard drugs. As far as soft drugs are concerned there is pressure to place marihuana and cocaine, the most popular of these, in an intermediate position between the socially accepted addictions, like alcohol and tobacco, and the so-called hard drugs, by which we mean mainly heroin. Pressures have been brought to bear either to legalize marihuana smoking or at the very least to reduce and limit penalties for being in possession of this drug.
A quite convincing case can be made that long-term addiction to marihuana may well be less damaging to the health than heavy use of alcohol or tobacco. Although the long-term effects of marihuana are not well documented from the point of view of pharmacology and pathology, the most common short-term effect of the drug is a sense of dreamy well-being. Habitual use leads to a decline of personal ambition, a loss of sexual desire, a turning away from previously valued social ties such as family life, and a loss of pride in personal appearance. In other words, the addict once again makes a psychic package deal with his personality, and accepts willingly the effect the drug has upon him in return for his escape from personal anxiety about the real world.