What is the Difference Between Hard and Soft Drugs?

The term ‘soft drugs,’ and ‘hard drugs’ are arbitrary terms with little to no clear way criteria. The term ‘hard drug’ has been used to categorize drugs including meth and marijuana. Marijuana is usually the only drug included in ‘soft’ drugs, although some people include nicotine and alcohol in this category for legal status use by adults. It is often referred to as a gateway drug, a term equally inaccurate.

Questions Raised

Use of these terms raises more questions than it answers. Is a drug only ‘hard’ when injected. For example, heroin, crack, and meth are not ‘soft’ drugs when smoked. With these drugs, it is the purity, amount, frequency of use, and route of administration that determines how harmful it is. Stronger strains of marijuana are being genetically engineered and longer-term harms are becoming more apparent. Criminal research shows few drug offenders limit themselves to only one drug, bringing into question the idea drug use by people can limit them to using only one ‘soft’ drug, although there may be a pattern of progression from marijuana to heroin.


To categorize drugs with soft or hardness, several drugs can be difficult to categorize. Hallucinogens, like magic mushrooms and LSD, are not considered to be addictive. Even if research states otherwise, the lower incidence of addiction does not change much about how they are categorized due to the bad trips and flashbacks being well-documented. It is unlikely experts would support the view of their being categorized as ‘soft.’When looking at drugs like tranquilizer and painkillers, they do not have a category. They seem not to fit in anywhere. Even when drugs are abused with addictive potential, they are not really categorized as a soft or hard drug. There is not one for them because they could fit into either category. Terminology matters when looking at drugs. Any drug is not just hard or soft, it is a drug that harms people’s lives. It takes away relationships, causes pain and strife and is detrimental to a person’s health. The main thing to keep in mind is that people are struggling with addiction, whatever the categorization may be. It is critical to find a way of coping with this crisis by encouraging loved ones to seek help who are suffering and finding ways to bring hope to their journeys through recovery.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. Nature is an important component of recovery and healing. We strive to provide a place of enrichment that cultivates the inner as well as the outer journey of recovery. However you find your way to the Last Resort, we endeavor to provide a haven where you can journey through recovery, feeling like your life and story have meaning and a purpose. Contact us now!