The Dangers:

Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco

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The Dangers of Alcohol


People who can "hold their liquor" are to be envied.


People who can drink heavily without becoming intoxicated have probably developed a tolerance for alcohol, which can indicate the onset of dependency.

Each year, approximately 4,700 people under age 21 die as a result of underage drinking.1 Causes include alcohol poisoning; suicide; homicide; traffic crashes; and injuries from burns, falls, and other harms.

It can affect the body in many ways. The effects of alcohol range from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning.

It can lead to other problems. Young people who use alcohol also are more likely to smoke and use other drugs. Those who begin drinking before age 15 also are far more likely to develop alcohol problems as adults.3

It affects how well a young person judges risk and makes sound decisions. For example, after drinking, a teen may see nothing wrong with driving a car or riding with a driver who has been drinking. But, before drinking, the teen might realize the riskiness involved.

It plays a role in risky sexual activity. People do things when they are under the influence of alcohol—even a small amount—that they would not do when they are sober, including having sex even when they didn’t want to and had not planned to do so.4 This behavior can increase the chance of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

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The Dangers of Drugs

The most common types of drugs, their effects and side-effects

Heroin- Heroin is a highly addictive drug and the most rapidly

acting of the opiates.

Effects- One of the most significant effects of heroin use is addiction.

With regular heroin use, tolerance to the drug develops. Once

this happens, the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the

same intensity.

Physical symptoms of heroin use include:

➔ drowsiness, respiratory depression, constricted pupils,

nausea, a warm flushing of the skin, and dry mouth.

Marijuana- Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug, produced by the Cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana contains over

480 constituents.

Effect- Pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory

and time perception, and coordinated movement

The short-term effects of marijuana include:

➔ Problems with memory and learning, distorted

perception, difficulty in thinking and problem-solving,

and loss of coordination

➔ dizziness, nausea, tachycardia, facial flushing, dry

mouth and tremor initially

➔ Merriment, happiness, and even exhilaration at

high doses

➔ disinhibition, relaxation, increased sociability, and


➔ Enhanced sensory perception, giving rise to increased

appreciation of music, art, and touch

Methamphetamine- Methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant. The FDA-approved

brand-name medication is Desoxyn®.

Effects- Those who smoke or inject it report a brief, intense sensation,

or rush. Oral ingestion or snorting produces a long-lasting high

instead of a rush, which reportedly can continue for as long as

half a day. Both the rush and the high are believed to result from

the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine

into areas of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure.

Long-term meth use results in many damaging effects, including


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The Dangers of Tobacco

  • Each day, more than 3,600 people under 18 smoke their first cigarette, and more than 900 begin smoking on a daily basis.
  • In 2011, an estimated 19 percent of U.S. adults were cigarette smokers.
  • Approximately 18% of high school students smoke cigarettes.
  • In 2011, nearly 18% of high school boys were current cigar users.
  • From 2005 to 2011, the proportion of adult smokers declined from 20.9% to 19.0%.

  • Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 443,000 deaths each year, including approximately 49,400 deaths due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • 8.6 million people live with a serious illness caused by smoking.
  • On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, and 90% of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80% of lung cancer deaths among women are due to smoking

  • An estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans, including 54% of children aged 3–11 years, are exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their lung cancer risk by 20–30%.
  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25–30%.
  • Each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, and more than 46,000 die of heart disease.

  • Smokeless tobacco contains 28 cancer-causing agents (carcinogens).
  • Smokeless tobacco is a known cause of cancer; it causes oral and pancreatic cancer.
  • Smokeless tobacco is also strongly associated with leukoplakia—a precancerous lesion of the soft tissue in the mouth that consists of a white patch or plaque that cannot be scraped off.
  • Smokeless tobacco is associated with recession of the gums, gum disease, and tooth decay.
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