You’re hanging out with your friends at your house, and your parents are gone. You’re bored. You guys wanna do something kinda different and fun, a little rebellious. You can’t get any alcohol because you aren’t 21, and you don’t know anyone who is that would buy you some. Weed is pretty hard to get a hold of if you don’t know any dealers. But, you could always go through your parents medicine cabinet… There’s definitely something in there that can get you high.
That’s how easy it is, and that’s why so many teens take prescription drugs.
Prescription drug abuse is when someone takes a medication that was prescribed for someone else and/or uses it for something other than what the doctor intended it for. So, like taking pills that are supposed to be for your mom, or taking Adderall to help you get through a late night study session.
After marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. Teens get it from friends and relatives, and most of the time they steal it.
A lot of people use prescription drugs to get high because they believe them to be safer than street drugs. They figure that if doctors give them to people, they must not be bad and do any harm. But the reality is that they are VERY DANGEROUS if taken in the wrong way. When doctors prescribe medicine, they consider all kinds of things like how healthy the person is, their height and weight, how old they are, how much they should take, how often they should take it, what other health issues the person may have, and all kinds of things. You can’t just take a random amount of some random medicine and expect that to be okay for your body.
So what exactly are the effects of taking prescription drugs?
- Difficulty breathing
- High body temperature
- Fast heartbeat
- Slurred speech
- Shallow breathing
- Lack of coordination
- Changes in your mood, perceptions, and behavior
People also take prescription drugs to commit suicide. So, it’s pretty scary that if you take it to get high, you could accidentally take too much and it could kill you.
There are different types of prescription drugs that teens take for different reasons. Opiois, like Vicodin and Oxycontin, are painkillers. Depressants, like Valium and Xanax, are used to help you sleep or relieve anxiety. Stimulants, like Adderall or Ritalin, help people with ADHD focus. Or, you could take any of these to feel high. People even take too much cough and cold medicine to get high.
Think about it. Taking these drugs is so, so scary. You really don’t know what it could do to you… it’s so easy to overdose with these. Also, it’s illegal. Do you really want to throw your future away and get in trouble with the law? Just for a “high” feeling that won’t even last that long? Is it really worth it?
These drugs are also super addicting. People don’t think they’re as addicting as street drugs, but they are.
If you’re taking prescription drugs, you need to stop. You might even need to get help. If you or a friend have a problem with prescription drug abuse, tell a trusted adult like a parent, teacher, coach, or counselor. You can also called 1-800-662-HELP or 1-888-4-AL-ANON, and they’ll tell you what steps to take to get over your addiction. Take action and make a change before it’s too late.
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.
Cocaine is one of the most dangerous drugs out there. Teens think it’s cool because it’s a stimulant drug, meaning it gives you tons of energy so you can stay up all night long and party and hang with friends. But it can also kill you.
Stimulants are drugs that elevate your mood, give you more energy, and increase your feelings of well-being. Basically, they cause your body to speed up… which means they also elevate your heart rate and blood pressure, which is incredibly dangerous.
Cocaine is available in two different forms. It can be in powder form, which people can either snort or inject with a needle (if they mix it with water); or it’s sometimes in the form of small white rocks, otherwise known as “crack cocaine,” and can be smoked. Some street names for cocaine are coke, coca, snow, blow, flake, candy, or rock; it’s also called “speedball” when it’s mixed with other drugs.
Here are some of the short-term effects of cocaine:
- faster heartbeat
- body feels hot
- shaking and twitching
- can’t sleep or eat
- feelings of anger, nervousness, paranoia, and fear
- stomach pain
- weight loss
- after the high wears off, you will crash and feel tired and sad for days (and crave it)
And here are some of the long-term effects:
- built up tolerance (so you crave more and need more to feel the same high)
- strange unpredictable behavior, like panic attacks and feeling paranoid
- snorting can lead to hoarseness, loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, and a constant runny nose
- respiratory problems
- heart attack
- brain damage
- violent behavior
- sudden death (even for first time users)
If you suspect that one of your friends may be using cocaine, you definitely need to get them help. It could save their life. You can usually tell that something sketchy is going on when friends start acting really weird, and not like themselves: if they’re starting to not do as well in school, hanging out with a different crowd, if they seem depressed and have lost weight, lost their motivation, and aren’t taking care of their appearance and hygiene. People using drugs are also very moody, might have changed their sleeping pattern, and have bloodshot, tired looking eyes. They also might always be asking for money, or even stealing money.
Try talking to your friend and ask if something’s going on. In some cases, they may actually open up and be honest with you about what they’ve been doing. But sometimes, probably in most cases, teens can be afraid or embarrassed to admit that they’re using drugs, and will lie to even their closest friends. They might get angry with you. If that happens, you need to tell an adult. You aren’t telling on them, or getting them in trouble… you’re literally saving their life by telling someone. It’s nothing to feel bad about. Tell a trusted adult, like a parent, school counselor, teacher, or coach. They can help you confront your friend and get them the help they need.
You could also have your friend call either 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-662-HELP. By calling these hotlines, your friend can talk to a professional about the steps they should take to get over their cocaine addiction. Or, you can go online with them and visit http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment and find a local treatment center where they can receive help.
Cocaine is highly addictive, so even if your friend has only tried it a few times, they’re still craving it. Or if they’ve been using for a long time, it’s going to continue to get worse. It’s only a matter of time until something happens to them. Get them the help they need NOW.
Have you heard of all those pro athletes that have gotten busted for using steroids? Steroids are drugs that make you bulk up and gain tons of muscle and testosterone without actually working for it. It’s illegal and it’s cheating. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of pro athletes that have used steroids to get stronger and better at their sport… But sometimes high school students even use steroids, too.
Although the percentage of high school students who use steroids is relatively low (1% of female students and about 12% of male students), that number is growing. People use steroids to either improve their sports performance or the way they look, but usually it’s for sports.
The type of steroids that people use to gain tons of muscle are called anabolic-androgenic steroids. Anabolic refers to the steroids ability to develop muscle, and androgenic refers to their role in promoting the development of male sexual characteristics (testosterone). These steroids are usually made up of synthetic substances similar to testosterone, which is how they cause people to build so much muscle, grow more facial hair, get deeper voices, etc. In some cases, doctors do prescribe steroids to people who have unusually low levels of testosterone. But otherwise, they’re illegal.
A couple of “street names” for steroids are juice and roids, and they’re taken either from pills or needles. People who use steroids illegally usually take doses that are 10-100 times higher than what doctors prescribe patients for medical reasons.
So, what exactly is so bad about steroids? Here are some of the health consequences:
- stunted growth
- weight gain
- sleeping problems
- greater chance of getting injured
- blood clots
- kidney impairment/failure
- damage to the liver
- cardiovascular problems: enlargement of heart, high blood pressure, changes in cholesterol leading to increased risk of stroke and heart attack
- weakened immune system
- for guys: reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, increased risk of prostate cancer
- for girls: growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in menstrual cycle, permanently deepened voice
- possibly death
On top of all of that, steroids can always have a huge effect on your behavior. You could start experiencing mood swings, manic-like symptoms leading to violence, depression, irritability, paranoia, delusions, and impaired judgment.
If somebody you know is using steroids, here’s what you can do:
- Tell a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher, counselor, or coach.
- Talk to them. Tell them about the health risks that go along with using steroids, and that it’s really not worth it.
- Call the Treatment Referral Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP. They can refer you to local treatment facilities, support groups, and other organizations that can help.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. They can help you with all kinds of issues besides suicide.
If you want to be a star athlete, don’t cheat… you need to work for it! You just need to train, eat, and practice the healthy way. Don’t use drugs to help you reach your goals.
Smack, horse, dope, skunk, H. You can smoke it, snort it, or even inject it. It’s one of the most addictive drugs out there, and in recent years, the number of people ages 12-17 in America who have started using it has increased by 300%.
Heroin is produced from morphine, a naturally occurring substance that comes from the seedpod of poppy plants. It can look like a white powder, a darker brown powder, or a tar-like substance. Approximately 1/4 people who try it end of becoming addicted and physically dependent on it.
Some of the short-term effects are:
- warm flushing of the skin
- dry mouth
- heavy extremities
- alternately wakeful then drowsy state
- mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system
- slurred speech
- slow movement
- constricted pupils
- droopy eyelids
- impaired night vision
Some of the long-term effects are:
- collapsed veins
- infection of the heart lining and valves
- liver disease
- pulmonary complications
- suppresses breathing
- clogging blood vessels that lead to lungs, liver, kidneys, and brain
- infection or death of cells in vital organs
Basically, heroin destroys your body.
People become addicted to heroin so easily because it moves to the brain so quickly. Users become tolerant of it, so they need to use more and more to reach the same high they want. They can also experience withdrawals within just a few hours after they last time they used. So of course, they use multiple times a day so they don’t have to deal with those withdrawals. Heroin withdrawals include: drug craving, restlessness, muscle/bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes.
Sounds like a pretty miserable way to live, right?
Heroin addiction is treatable, but some people become so addicted that recovery can take several years, even decades.
So really, is it worth it? I think the answer to that is obvious. Heroin ruins people’s bodies and their lives… don’t even go there.