Alcohol, weed, poppers, ... etc. All those different substances produce feelings of pleasure and happiness. Do they share a hypernym in English?

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    Recreational or psychoactive drugs. Sep 2, 2018 at 21:21
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    @JanusBahsJacquet From Wikipedia: "Recreational drugs include alcohol (as found in beer, wine, and distilled spirits); cannabis and hashish; nicotine (tobacco); caffeine (coffee and tea); and the controlled substances listed as illegal drugs . . ." Sep 2, 2018 at 21:26
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    a velly velly broad question!
    – lbf
    Sep 2, 2018 at 21:31
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    @Jason That definitely does not tally with my experience of the term. Most people I have heard use the term have used it in juxtaposition to alcohol (and absolutely coffee and tea). ‘Recreational drug use’ in my experience refers mostly to young people smoking weed or snorting lines on the weekend, not to having a cup of tea for breakfast. Sep 2, 2018 at 21:36
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    Close voters please see the accepted answer.
    – Kris
    Sep 3, 2018 at 9:21

1 Answer 1


"Intoxicant" covers all of your examples. It has a root in "toxic", poisonous. Intoxicant is commonly used in legal parlance.

"Drug" is commonly used for all of your examples except alcohol, although alcohol is also a drug and alcohol can be used as a medicine.

"Addictive substances" also fits, although that's two words.

Cheers for recognising that alcohol can also cause a high. That use has become less frequent since the 1960s. The Kingston Trio's song, "Scotch and Soda" has the lyric, "Baby, do I feel high, oh me, oh my" for both the alcohol-induced high and the emotionally-based high.

  • Unfortunately, this doesn't cover marathons or altitudes or sleeplessness. But maybe all they care about is drugs; hard to tell.
    – tchrist
    Sep 2, 2018 at 21:32
  • I did took the question to be aimed at highs produced by introducing something into the body, rather than by the body's natural processes. Romantic love can cause a high that's based on human interaction and hormones.
    – Theresa
    Sep 2, 2018 at 21:36
  • Something doesn't sound right about this answer. Intoxicants would include everything that's toxic, including poisons which aren't anywhere used for recreation or spiritual reasons or to get high. In other words they won't give you a high but they may kill you.
    – Zebrafish
    Sep 2, 2018 at 22:01
  • Something poisonous is usually said to be toxic, rather than an intoxicant. Some recreational drugs can kill, too: heroin overdose, stroke from cocaine.
    – Theresa
    Sep 2, 2018 at 22:10
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    @tchrist Naturally produced substances such as endorphins, adrenaline and so on definitely produce effects similar to intoxication by introduced substances which is why marathons, altitude and sleeplessness produce this sort of effect. It's also why we speak of "being intoxicated by her beauty" or having an intoxicating experience. If something can intoxicate you, even if its not a drug or, indeed, anything with a physical existence its still an intoxicant.
    – BoldBen
    Sep 3, 2018 at 7:01

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