E-cigs: The Gateway Drug

Drugs, Health, Trouble

E-cigarettes: a new, safe alternative to regular cigarettes. A great way to quit smoking. A lot healthier for your body than inhaling gross, thick cigarette smoke. Not addictive, and way less nicotine.


Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, aaaaand wrong… yep, all of that is WRONG.

But unfortunately, that seems to be what everyone thinks. E-cigs are marketed to make people think that they aren’t as bad as cigarettes. This new industry wants to make people think they are a “new, safe alternative,” and they want cigarette smokers to start using e-cigs when they attempt to “quit.”

E-cigs are battery powered smoking devices that are designed to look and feel like regular cigarettes. They have cartridges filled with liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings (fruity, chocolate, mint, whatever), and other chemicals that aren’t good for you. The e-cig heats up and the heat turns the liquid into a vapor, which is then breathed into the lungs.

Because of the way e-cig companies make their product come across, people who don’t do their RESEARCH are convinced that they’re not so bad for you. And, sadly, most people aren’t seeming to do their research. The e-cig industry is growing… and they are especially popular among teenagers.

Sure, when you smoke an e-cig, you aren’t breathing smoke into your lungs, which is why people think they’re so much better. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t breathing all kinds of other garbage into your lungs. With e-cigs, you are still putting just as much nicotine in your system as with cigarettes.

Here’s what nicotine does to you:

  • affects your brain
  • affects your nervous system
  • affects your heart and heart rate, and puts you at risk for heart failure
  • puts you at risk for getting blood clots
  • puts you at risk for getting stomach ulcers

Nicotine is also SUPER addictive. If you try it, even once or twice, you will crave it. And when you have a craving, you can become depressed and feel really tired. It can also be toxic and kill you if you have too much.

Researchers have done tons of studies on e-cigs and teenagers, and they have found that teens who smoke e-cigs are MUCH more likely to smoke regular cigarettes (and vice versa) and become addicted to those, too; six times more likely, to be exact. They are usually even associated with causing teens who are just experimenting with cigarettes to become regular, established smokers. Basically, they’re a gateway drug.

So if you think that e-cigs will help with your temptation to try regular cigarettes, or that they’ll help you quit smoking… think again. They’re really no different.

If you or a friend are smoking e-cigs, or regular cigarettes, here are some things you can do to quit:

  • Make a plan. If you are currently smoking 10 times a day, try to smoke one less time per day until you’re not smoking at all. Or, quit altogether. Sit down with someone who will help hold you accountable, have them help you make a plan to quit, and then stick to it.
  • Stay busy. When you feel a craving coming on, try to distract yourself by doing something else. You won’t smoke if you’re too busy doing something else. You can try things like going for a run, going to a movie with friends (who don’t smoke), painting a picture, or writing a story. Whatever you enjoy!
  • Keep focused on why you want to quit. Remember how much money your addiction has been costing you? Remember how you feel when you walk up a flight of stairs, or run at practice? Remember all the things that are unhealthy about smoking?
  • Get support. Tell your friends that you really do want to quit, and ask them to encourage you to stay strong whenever you get the urge. Ask a couple people if you can call or text them every time you get the urge, and they can help keep you accountable. Things like this are way easier when you don’t have to do it all yourself.
  • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. This is a totally free hotline where professionals are available 24/7 to help you with your addiction. They can help you come up with a plan, give you tips on how to quit, and tell you all about WHY you should quit.

Smoking may seem “cool,” and e-cigs may appear to be a better alternative. But really, just take care of your body and stay away from them.

Smoking Isn’t Cool

Drugs, Health, Safety, Trouble

Lets be real… smoking is gross. I mean, really, what’s good about it? Your friends might do it, you might think it makes you “cool,” it might give you a little buzz. But here’s what’s bad about it. It will:

  • decrease your physical fitness
  • increase your chances of getting cancer… no, not just lung cancer. Also throat, stomach, and bladder cancer
  • increase your chances of getting infections like bronchitis and pneumonia
  • increase your chances of getting sick
  • give you wrinkles
  • turn your teeth yellow
  • decrease your bone density
  • it could affect your sexual health… girls who are on birth control and smoke increase their risk of serious health problems, like heart attacks
  • give you bad breath
  • give you bad skin
  • make your clothes and hair smell bad
  • reduce your athletic performance
  • increase your risk of injury, and cause you to have a slower healing time
  • increase your risk of emphysema (breakdown of lung tissues)
  • increase your risk of heart disease
  • shorten your life by 10 years or more
  • cost you around $1,000 a year if you smoke everyday… imagine what you can do with $1,000!

That’s a lot of terrible stuff. So why do people do it?

Children and teens usually start smoking because they think it’ll make them look “cool and grown up,” or their friends peer pressure them into doing it. Kids who see a lot of smoking advertisements and see a lot of smoking in movies are also more likely to do it.

The sad thing is, most people who start smoking start as kids or teens. Studies show that among adults who smoke, 68% started smoking regularly at age 18 or younger, and 85% start at age 21 or younger. Everyday in the United States, around 3,900 children and teens try their first cigarette… about 950 of them will become regular, daily smokers, and half of them will ultimately die from it.

People who start smoking at an earlier age are also more likely to develop a severe addiction than people who start smoking later in life. They also have even greater health risks. Not that you should smoke at ANY point in your life, but you should know that smoking as an adolescent is even worse than smoking as an adult.

Once you start smoking, it’s hard to quit because of nicotine. Nicotine is an extremely addicting drug, and your body and mind can become so used to it that they need it to feel normal. Nicotine and all the other chemicals in cigarettes are POISONS. They break down your body and can kill you in high doses.

If you think that hookahs, e-cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco are all safer alternatives to cigarettes… you’re wrong. None of those things are any better for you than cigarettes.

Really guys, smoking isn’t cool. It’s dangerous and disgusting. In the U.S., 1 in 5 deaths is caused by smoking… that’s 20%. Do you realize how huge that is? Just don’t even try one cigarette… you don’t want to go there.

Weed: Worth It?

Drugs, Health, Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Crime

Many teens feel pressured to try marijuana at some point during high school. It might seem like “everybody’s doing it,” and people might be telling you “it’s not a big deal, just try it.” But the reality is that marijuana is a very big deal.

Marijuana, often referred to as pot, weed, herb, reefer, or Mary Jane, is a mixture of dried and shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant. The mixture can be green, brown, or gray, and has a very strong smell. Most people roll loose marijuana into a cigarette joint and smoke it, but some people also put it in food and tea.

When people are high on marijuana, they feel good. It gives them pleasant sensations, and enhances all their senses. Everything feels good, everything tastes better than normal, everything sounds cool. But it only feels good for a very short amount of time, and then the negative effects kick in.

Here are the short term effects… people high on marijuana have:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Slower reaction time
  • Problems responding to sounds/signals
  • A hard time remembering things
  • Poor judgment
  • Poor perception
  • Higher heart rates (20-50 beats faster per minute)
  • Inability to make decisions

And here are some long term effects:

  • People who currently or have previously smoked marijuana have a heart time with complex tasks. Marijuana contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which finds brain cells with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors, and binds to them. This affects the part of the brain that learns and remembers, and it continues to affect it permanently even when you’re not high anymore. So past users have a hard time pursuing academic, athletic, and other life goals that require you to be 100% focused and alert.
  • People who have used report less life satisfaction, poorer education/job achievement, and more anxiety and depression.
  • 1/6 people who start using at a young age become dependent on it and experience withdrawals when they try to quit.
  • Smoking marijuana is no different than smoking cigarettes, maybe even worse. It affects the lungs and airways, causes breathing problems, and causes people to be more susceptible to chest colds, coughs, and bronchitis. Marijuana smoke is also inhaled more deeply than cigarettes so more smoke enters the lungs for a longer period of time. It also contains the same chemicals as cigarettes… about 400 chemicals.
  • Marijuana can act as a gateway drug and lead people to trying other drugs.
  • Marijuana is also illegal. Anyone who is caught with it can spend time in jail, and be fined a lot of money, even if you’re under 18.

If your friends are pressuring you to try marijuana, just think about it: is less than an hour of a “good feeling” worth damaging your brain and lungs, being unable to make decisions and function normally, and risking getting arrested?

If you or a friend are want to quit smoking marijuana, talk to a parent, guidance counselor, or other trusted adult to get help. Or, you can call the Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (which offers many other services besides helping people who are suicidal) at 1-800-273-TALK.

Smoking Increases Bladder Cancer

Drugs, Health, Uncategorized

Everyone knows that smoking leads to cancer, but did you know that it increases your chances of bladder cancer?? Apparently this isn’t new knowledge for scientists, but what they didn’t know is that it doesn’t discriminate between genders. They once thought that men were more likely to get bladder cancer from smoking, however it is seen that this may only be because the majority of the smoking population were males at that time. The rate of female (17.9%) smokers has increased since then to be close to the amount of male (23.5%) smokers even though the general rate of smoking among the entire population has decreased to 20%.

Although smoking rates have been decreasing, the fact that smokers are four times as likely to get bladder cancer is outrageous and should keep people from smoking. And, don’t think that just because you use “light” cigarettes you aren’t as likely to get cancer. They say that light cigarettes are just as dangerous as regular cigarettes. This may only be because they inhale more smoke than regular cigarette smokers, however both still contain cancer-causing chemicals in them.

So, next time you light up, ladies (and gentlemen), be sure you know the other risks involved!

Huh? What Did You Say?

Drugs, Health, School, Uncategorized

Have you ever gotten in trouble from a parent or teacher for not paying attention to what they were saying? Sometimes we miss important information because we have other things on our minds or we just may be spacing out. However, there are cases where you just may have not heard what they said to you and it isn’t your fault.  Music can cause hearing loss, which isn’t a new medical find, but would smoking have an effect on your hearing?

It is a well-known fact that kids who grow up around smokers have developmental issues as well as health issues, such as respiratory infections. But did you know that recent studies have shown that secondhand smoke causes hearing loss in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19? A Yahoo! News article described how it is believed that secondhand smoke affects the blood flow through your ears creating a substance called cotinine. Cotinine forms when nicotine from cigarette smoke breaks down and enters the blood. Based on the level of cotinine found will suggest if you are a smoker yourself or if you suffer from secondhand smoke. Either way, the presence of cotinine affects  your ears’ detection of various pitches (mostly low) and wavelengths. Next time you light up, try to remember that it not only affects you and your body, but others’, too!