From personal experience I have found that drugs and alcohol do not lead to to necessarily "escape" reality, more to the point that they offer a means to face your perceptions of reality means to you.
The altered states of mind afforded by the use of substance can bring about a fundamental change in your understanding of yourself and others. Beforehand I would witness the separation brought about in society of factors of judgment, lack of acceptance and the systemised conformity of social beliefs.
Creativity was being eroded by the drudgery of modern life. The demands of a modern world set in it's ways of mass consumption and process lead me to want for something else in life where I could feel "whole" again. Through the innocent experimentation with alcohol and drugs, I was able to face the inhibiting factors within myself that were constricting me from moving forward in my life.
Alot of the time I would take substances for the pure enjoyment of it. Like some of a view art or appreciate music, I found a new appreciation for the space between my ears that contains so much beauty, color and creativity. I would induce the drug, then take a walk in the park and just appreciate nature in all it's forms. I would lay on the grass and stare up into the sky and wonder about what was out there. I would make pictures out of the clouds with my minds eye and just feel mirthful. I would feel released.
The point I make to you is this. In our world today our inner child's are screaming out for attention. Our imagination and dreams have been suppressed so much that we have turned to substance to help facilitate the healing. We have conformed to an idea of what we are, and denied our birthrights. Alot of us have never experienced what it truly it is like to feel the magic of our child-hoods. With so many false expectations held out for us we have turned away from ourselves to the point where the world is in chaos.
The challenge in society today is freedom. Freedom from fear, terror, climate change, age, death etc. How did we come to this point? If reality is go great as it is without the use of substances, then why do we have an escapist mindset? Maybe then the question of "why?" may be turned into a "why not?". Quite simply we have come to this point in reality where we need to explore ourselves in order to come together as one race.
It is almost always acceptable now for people of all races to sit down and enjoy a drink or drug together. It goes along way in breaking down the barriers between us. Those that have been put there by conditioned beliefs.
This is one of the main reason people today are par-taking in the escapist mindset, they are finding that the beliefs once held were not of their own, but those of the former generation.
As we move into a more "enlightened" world we bear witness to the rise of global acceptance and tolerance.
In many of my experiences taking drugs and consuming alcohol I found compassion not only for myself, but for that of human kind. Not such a bad escape in my book.