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Smoking and Alcohol Facts

FACTS ABOUT DESTRUCTIVE DECISIONS


1. SMOKING

Smoking Stinks!!!

Any tobacco product contains nicotine (an extremely addictive drug) which can mess with your brain. In technical terms, nicotine is both a stimulant and depressant to your nervous system. People like smoking or chewing tobacco because nicotine makes them feel good and keeps them focused. After a few cigarettes or chews, your body can become addicted to the nicotine because your brain gets used to the nicotine rush and then requires it in order to keep you comfortable. If your brain does not get its nicotine rush, you go through withdrawal symptoms that make you feel irritable and edgy and literally need a cigarette in order to feel normal again.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons of smoking and chewing tobacco.
Pros: You feel good and focused.
Cons: There are plenty of them!
Smoking causes addiction, constant coughing, bronchitis, asthma, damage to your lungs, smelly hair and clothes, yellow teeth and bad breath. And those are just the short term effects. The long term effects include cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes), lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema (a lung disease where a person has a really hard time breathing), reproductive problems, and birth defects in kids. The short effects of chewing tobacco are addiction, tooth decay, yellow teeth, receding gums, drooling and smelly hair and clothes. Long term effects include heart problems, stomach cancer and reproductive problems.

Looks like the cons win!

Smoking and chewing tobacco are really hard habits to quit so you’re best off just not starting to begin with! More than 90% of people who try to quit go back to smoking after one year or less. And in case you thought smoking was cool—it’s not! A survey of teens found that 70% of smokers between the ages of 12 and 17 would not have started smoking if they could do it all over and 66% of them want to quit. Half of these teens tried to quit but couldn’t make it that time around.

If you are addicted to smoking, go to http://www.quitsmokingsupport.com for all the info you need to quit.

2. ALCOHOL

Stay away from the booze!

Alcohol’s also known as booze and it’s illegal for most of you reading this site to drink it! You have to be 21 in the US in order to be able to drink alcohol legally. Like all other drugs, alcohol messes with your brain. People like alcohol because it decreases their inhibitions and they feel that they can have a lot more fun that way. But guess what! A lot of these people end up drinking too much and vomiting for most of the night and not being able to see straight, walk straight or speak clearly. Honestly—how much fun is that!? Alcohol affects your judgment, reaction time, and reasoning which can make it impossible for you to drive safely. Alcohol can also be addictive. Those few drinks once in a while can turn into a habit and before you know it, you may become an alcoholic which means that your body relies on alcohol in order to function properly. Drinking alcohol and getting drunk can affect your life and relationships. You may engage in risk-taking behavior like drunk driving which can lead to imprisonment or death and unprotected sex which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. You may also get into fights with friends and family, fail out of school, and lose your job—all because of your drinking. Worse yet, you can suffer serious health problems or even die if you drink enough alcohol to shut down your nervous system. This is called alcohol poisoning and it can lead to brain damage, pneumonia, lung problems, coma or like we mentioned before, death.

The most sure way to prevent drinking problems is not to drink! If you already have a drinking problem, see a guidance counselor, teacher or an adult you trust to help you get help. Or look online at websites like http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/support/ for information on where to get started.

3. Drinking and Driving

Don't drink and drive!

As we mentioned before, alcohol affects your reaction time and judgment, making it very dangerous for you to be on the road. In 1999, 17% of drivers that caused fatal car crashes were driving while drunk. Also, 45% of traffic crash fatalities were caused by drunk driving. In 2000 alone, 16,653 people were victims of drunk drivers. There are laws in Maryland that define drunk driving. DUI, or driving under the influence, means that you were driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more. If you are caught driving under the influence, your license will be suspended for 45 days (or longer or even revoked!) and you may be subject to pretty expensive fines. DWI, or driving while impaired, is .07-.08 in Maryland. And for all of you out there under 21, a blood alcohol concentration of .02 is illegal (since you shouldn't be drinking anyway!) so you may get in big trouble for that! And just so you know, auto insurance rates can skyrocket by more than 100% if you are convicted of a DUI. Also, a DWI/DUI stays with you--if you are on a job interview and they ask you about any past DWI/DUIs, you are required to tell them the truth.

The best way to prevent drunk driving is not to get drunk to begin with. But if you aren't going to do this, at least designate a driver in your group who will NOT drink at all who will drive you home. If you have your own car with you, be sure to hand over your car keys to the designated driver (who is staying sober) before you start drinking.

References: http://www.justfacts.org and http://www.health.org/govpubs/rpo884/ supplied all of the factual information on this page.