29 June 2002

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs

Équipe -Pose ta question!-

Using alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs are all threats to our health. If you use any of these substances, have friends that use, or if you are thinking about using, you may want to take a look at the information we have provided on these substances:


Alcohol is the most often used and abused drug in the United States. Just because it is legal does not mean that it is safe. If you are under 21, we all know that having alcohol or drinking is illegal, but everyone knows that those under 21 often manage to get a hold of alcohol. Because those who are under 21 don’t have regular, easy access to alcohol, when they do get it, they tend to drink a lot. This practice of drinking lots of alcohol at one time has become known as binge drinking.

Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks at any one time. Consuming large amounts of alcohol has both long term and short term consequences. In the short term, have you ever had a hang over, it’s not fun, but it’s the price to pay for drinking irresponsibly. Your judgement is another short term casualty of drinking. Would you want someone who is drunk making decisions about who you drive with, what you do, or who you choose to go home with? Well, when you are drunk who stops you from having unprotected sex, shooting drugs, driving, or anything else you typically wouldn’t do. When you binge drink and get drunk, you make a choice to give up all control over your body, actions, and deeds, but you still have to deal with the consequences. AIDS and STDs are often the result of poor choices made while drunk. Also, let us not forget about death. You can die from consuming too much alcohol from what is called alcohol poisoning. In the long term, repeated binge drinking can result in damage to your liver, the appearance of drunk’s nose (a consistent red appearance of the nose), and mental deterioration.

Prevention and Quitting

Again, no easy answers here. No replacement therapy. No quick fixes. To start binge drinking is a dangerous road leading to serious problems. We drink socially in the United States. It is part of our culture. But, drinking should wait until your 21 and if you have to drink, drink responsibly and never to drunkenness. As always, the best prevention is to never start.


About 70% of all adolescents report having at least tried smoking. This is good news for the tobacco industry!!! About 80% of adult smokers started smoking before they were 18 years old. Adolescent smokers are also important to the tobacco industry because adolescent smokers buy brand name cigarettes as opposed to adults who often switch to generic cigarettes. So, all those ads on billboards, in magazines, and in convenience stores and cigarette promotional campaigns are all ways the industry has to try to control you!!! Apart from the tobacco industry trying to control and manipulate you, tobacco kills. Everyone knows that now. It may not kill you today, or tomorrow, or even in the next five years, but when you 50 years old, making some serious scratch, and everything is going perfect, that’s when the doctor tells you that you have lung cancer and six months to live. It’s hard to think that far in advance, but its something to think about when you light up your next cigarette.

Prevention and Quitting

Okay, prevention is easy – don’t start!!!! Sounds simple, but we all know it isn’t. There are lots of pressures to smoke. Just remember, being both health and smoking is not possible.

If you smoke and want to quit, that’s probably a really good decision, but remember that it takes lots of people trying several times before they are successful, so never get discouraged. You are making a great choice for yourself and just keep at it. Also remember that trying to just quit “cold turkey” (stopping completely, suddenly) is very difficult. There are lots of products that can now help you quit smoking. Gums and patches are available at most drug stores to help you quit smoking. These products replace the nicotine in your system which helps to ease the physical withdrawal symptoms. If the gums and patches don’t work for you, you can see a doctor who could recommend some of the prescription medicines, such as Zyban, that can aid in quitting. Lots of people worry about gaining weight once they stop smoking. One reason this happens is because you are use to having something in your mouth, so try to chew gum or suck mints. This will help to make quitting a little easier and help resist the temptation to eat. 

Other Illicit Drugs

It is not easy to write something on drugs. For the most part, drug use is pretty clear cut – do it or don’t do it. Regardless of the drug, that’s pretty much the way it breaks down. But, let’s talk briefly about why not to use illegal drugs.

1. They kill you!!!

Just ask Len Bias (draft choice for the Boston Celtics), John Belushi (comedian), or Chris Farley (comedian). Drugs can and do kill people. No one thinks it will happen to them, but if drug use kills people and you use drugs, then it can happen to you.

2. They destroy your future!!!

Let’s learn from example, Daryl Strawberry (professional baseball player) or Nate Newton (professional football player) both of whom have had their careers seriously affected by their drug habits. They’ve hurt themselves, their families, and their friends. Besides these two men, just walk down the streets of any city in America. We’ve all seen junkies. You’re probably thinking that everyone who uses drugs doesn’t become a junkie. Well, you’re right, but is it worth the risk? Is your life, your future worth the chance that you could be junkie? I am sure that each and every person who has suffered because of drug use didn’t think it would happen to them.