Why do adolescents use drugs?

Teens use drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons. Some use drugs to fit in with their peers, others to cope with strong emotions such as anger and depression, or just for the sheer excitement of getting high and having something to do. Most teens, however, find ways to fulfill those needs by developing close friendships with peers who accept them for who they are, talking with a close friend or family member when feeling upset, or keeping busy by joining sports or clubs at school. Using drugs and alcohol is never a good alternative to coping with problems or simply to relieve boredom, because in the end it can cause more added problems and stress in a person’s life.

What makes cigarettes and e-cigs addictive?

A chemical called nicotine, which is naturally found in tobacco, is what makes cigarette smoking and e-cigs addictive. Nicotine is a stimulant that helps a person feel alert, but also provides a feeling of relaxation due to the release of a feel good chemical called dopamine. Smoking is sometimes used as a way for people to socialize with others and to cope with stress and boredom, which makes it even more challenging for people to give up nicotine. Through education and encouragement from loved ones and support groups, people are able to quit smoking for a healthier lifestyle.

Are E-cigarettes better for me than regular cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are used by some people as an alternative to smoking regular tobacco cigarettes. Both e-cigarettes and cigarettes contain toxic chemicals, which get ingested by the person using them. Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Since e-cigarettes are a fairly new invention, no long term studies have proven that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarette smoking.

Is chewing tobacco harmful?

Yes, chewing tobacco is harmful for the body. Chewing tobacco contains the same harmful chemicals as smoking a cigarette. Over time, a person using chewing tobacco can develop various types of oral cancer, such as mouth, lips, cheek and tongue, along with esophageal and bladder cancer. Other harmful effects include a receding gum line, cavities and an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Chewing tobacco also contains nicotine, which is highly addictive.

Is marijuana addictive?

Yes, marijuana can be addictive. People who use marijuana can build up a tolerance for the drug, which then requires more and more of the substance to get high. Marijuana smokers can also suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and loss of appetite. People who are at higher risk of becoming addicted may suffer from other challenges as well, such as anxiety, PTSD and depression, and limited social skills, in addition to having difficulties in meeting responsibilities in school or work. Overall, no one is able to tell who will become addicted, but you are taking a significant risk by using marijuana.

How do drugs affect the brain?

The brain is a complex communication system consisting of neurons, which are cells that send electrical and chemical messages from one neuron to another. Drugs interfere with the sending, receiving, and processing of these chemicals, especially the neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is the “feel good” chemical located in the Limbic system that allows us to feel pleasure. When drugs flood the neurological pathway with dopamine, it gives the user an intense feeling of being “high.” Through long-term drug use, the user may no longer feel pleasure from natural events, such as eating or socializing with others, and will instead feel the need to use the drug to feel pleasure or normal.

What makes taking steroids dangerous?

Anabolic steroids are man-made hormones that help build muscle. There are over 100 hormones used in the production of anabolic steroids, but the one used the most is the hormone testosterone, which is produced in both males and females. When a person takes steroids, they are adding hormones to their system, which disrupts the normal production of these naturally occurring chemicals. Serious side effects are gender specific, but overall a person could experience displays of aggressive behavior, mood swings, acne, heart attacks, strokes and shortening bone growth. The best way to develop muscle is through a healthy diet, exercise and weight training.

How does second hand smoke affect me?

When a person uses a cigarette, a cigar, or a pipe, the toxic chemicals that float in the air from the burning end is called sidestream smoke. What is exhaled from a smoked cigarette is called mainstream smoke. Both are dangerous for those standing nearby. Second hand smoke can cause health problems such as asthma, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, as well as coughing, heart disease and lung cancer. The best way to avoid second hand smoke is to walk away from the smoker or avoid being in confined spaces such as a car, home or workplace with someone who is smoking.

Ways to resist peer pressure.

Sometime during your teen life you will be pressured by others, or yourself, to do something that you may not want to do or know that you shouldn’t do. By planning ahead for those unexpected moments and understanding that you have a right to say “no,” it will help you in making the best decisions possible. When faced with those uncomfortable and confusing situations, take a moment and think about the consequences that could occur if you were to engage in a risky behavior and think if it is worth getting into trouble or losing the trust of parents or adult figures in your life. Some quick ways to refuse peer pressure is sharing with your friends alternative activities to do instead of the risky behavior, or give a reason for not participating in those activities. When saying “no” to others, try to use an assertive voice and keep direct eye contact. Using a little humor might also help to reduce the tension. Finally, if you need to, walk way and seek out friendships and activities that support you for who you are, along with activities that you love to do.

Why do people continue to sell drugs if it is hurting people?

The main reason that people continue to sell drugs, even though they clearly hurt others, is simple: they want to make money. The majority of drug dealers only make enough money to meet their basic needs. Also, some dealers continue to sell drugs in order to support their own drug habit. They put their lives and others in danger, along with the added risk of being killed or incarcerated for many years. Drug dealers come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and may sell drugs for many different reasons, such as power, excitement and popularity. However, the bottom line is that money is being made in an illegal way, and people are getting hurt.

Are some teens more likely to take drugs than others?

Identified risk factors show that some teens are more likely to use drugs than others. Even though teens may have these risk factors, it doesn’t mean that they will necessarily use drugs because many teens who have these traits do not use. The following are risk factors that may contribute to a person using drugs: a positive attitude towards drinking and using, uncontrolled mental health problems (anxiety, depression, ADHD), defiant behavior, friends who use, academic struggles, family history of drug use, lack of parental supervision, and disconnect among family members. The availability of drugs in the home and community also can influence whether a teen will use or not. Teens who seek help for their problems, associate with non-using friends, stay focused in school and participate in extracurricular activities, are more likely to overcome and face any challenges ahead without the use of drugs and alcohol.

Why do people continue to take drugs even if it is hurting them?

Using drugs can cause a person to become addicted where their need to do drugs will be a priority before anything else in their life, even their own well-being. A person taking drugs does not set out to become addicted, but because of using drugs, the chemicals in their brain can change. In order for the person to reach that high that they originally had when they first started, or even just to feel normal again, they will need to continue to use drugs and use more of it. Also, since the chemicals in their brain have changed, it will also affect their ability to make sound judgments and decisions for themselves. Through help from counselors and support groups, a person can learn to live their life drug free.

Can you get addicted after taking drugs a couple of times?

Yes, a person can get addicted from using a drug even after doing it one time. Getting addicted to drugs will depend on a person’s genetic makeup, what is going on in their life at that time, and the type of drugs that they are taking. Using drugs is a gamble and you never know what the outcome will be.

What should I do if my friend passes out from drinking?

Seeing a friend become unconscious from drinking can be very frightening, but the best thing to do is remain calm and take action. You will want to see if you can wake your friend up by tapping them on the shoulder and calling their name. If no response, perform basic first aid skills by first checking their airway to make sure they are not choking on their own vomit. Next, check for circulation by feeling for a pulse on their wrist or neck. You will also want to position your friend on their side so they don’t choke in case they end up vomiting. It is important that you call 911 immediately or if there is a bystander nearby, have them make the call for help while you monitor your friend. It is important that you stay with your friend until help arrives. Do not worry about getting in trouble with the police because your friend’s life is much more important and minimal consequences will occur because you are helping to save someone’s life!