Drugs and Alcohol

Length: 1120 words

In this essay I aim to find out why people, particularly teenagers, turn to drugs and / or alcohol. I am also going to research the different kinds of drugs available, and the effects of these drugs and alcohol. I will also find out how I can help somebody with a drug or alcohol problem.

There are many reasons why people turn to drugs or alcohol, they include:

* They enjoy the short-term effects

* They want the same kind of experience they get from drinking alcohol

* Their friends use them

* They are curious about the effects

* The drugs are easily available

* As part of growing up, teenagers want to ‘break the rules’

Alcohol, however, is a lot easier to get hold of, and many young children and teenagers have drunk alcohol with their friends to get drunk. I surveyed several teenagers that have drank alcohol and asked them why they did it.

Becky, 13 – My friends have vodka and stuff in their cupboards and we just mix them all up and get drunk for a laugh. I know it’s stupid but we just do it.

Jo, 15 – One night I just got really, really drunk because I was with my friends. I ended up giving some lip to a policeman and being put in a cell!

Miles, 17 – If alcohol disappeared there’d be no way to enjoy yourself.

People take drugs and drink alcohol differently, and these different ways are put into three different categories. Some people take a drug or drink alcohol because they are curious about what the effects feel like. This is called experimentation. Recreational drugs is a term used to describe the ways in which people take drugs or drink alcohol for pleasure, or for social reasons – when going to a club or a party for example. Problem drug use however has a harmful effect on a person’s life. This is when people rely on drugs or alcohol to take away their problems, and rely on them to help them cope with normal life. This problem is likely to affect their health and they may suffer from mental health problems, lose their friends, have money problems, or get in trouble with the law.

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug among 11 – 25 year olds. Cannabis is derived from Cannabis sativa, a plant found wild in most parts of the world and easily cultivated in Britain. Cannabis was first documented as a herbal remedy in a Chinese pharmacy text of the first century AD. It was introduced into Western medicine in the 1840s and was used for a variety of complaints. In Britain, recreational use of cannabis was first prohibited in 1928.

Since the early 1970s cannabis has been one of the most widely misused illegal drugs. Some doctors believe that cannabinoids are helpful for MS sufferers, patients with chronic pain and HIV/AIDS sufferers, but the most convincing evidence comes from anecdotal reports and small trials. Cannabinoids do not represent a cure, but might relieve some pain and discomfort, particularly from muscle spasm. Other doctors believe that the cannabinoids have nothing more to offer than existing drugs.

11 things every teen should know about cannabis:

1. Cannabis is illegal. Using, holding or selling it can get you convicted of a crime or expelled from school.

2. It’s risky to your brain, heart and lungs.

3. It reduces your ability to do things that require coordination and concentration, like sports, acting and studying.

4. You are what you wear. When you wear cannabis images on t-shirts, you are sending the wrong message. In fact, you are advertising lung cancer.

5. Do the right thing. Using cannabis hurts your education, family ties and social life.

6. Resist peer pressure. It’s not easy at first, but once you establish yourself as a non-user, there will be less pressure as time goes on.

7. You don’t need it. Contrary to what you might hear in songs or see on TV or in the movies, smoking cannabis does not make you cool.

8. It’s not always what it seems. It may be laced with crack cocaine or PCP without you even knowing it.

9. Talk about you problems. Using cannabis won’t help you escape your problems, it will only create more.

10. Don’t believe people who say cannabis is no big deal, or that it will make your life better.

11. Everybody’s not doing it. Only 8% of 12-17 year olds arte current marijuana users.

In Western countries cannabis is generally used as an aid to relaxation and a way of becoming mildly intoxicated or ‘high’. Cannabis causes a number of noticeable but usually mild physical effects, including increased pulse rate and decreased blood pressure, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, increased appetite and occasional dizziness. There are no records of fatal overdose. The effects generally start a few minutes after smoking, and may last up to one hour with low doses and for two or three hours with high doses. When eaten or drunk in a tea-type drink, cannabis takes an hour or more to have an effect and the effect can last 12 hours or longer. Taking cannabis in this way gives effects which are more intense and harder to control. High doses have been known to induce coma in young people.

It is probable that frequent inhalation of cannabis smoke over a period of years can lead to bronchitis and other respiratory disorders, cancer of the lung and other parts of the upper digestive tract. It is not known whether regular cannabis smoking will cause more or less risk to health than regular tobacco smoking, although cannabis users tend to inhale more deeply, and cannabis does contain higher concentrations of potentially carcinogenic tar. There can be physical dependence on this drug. People who use cannabis regularly and heavily often come to feel a psychological need for the drug or may rely on it in order to become more sociable. There has been speculation, based on data from animal tests, that heavy, long term use cannabis of affects the production of sperm in men and can cause abnormal sperm to develop. Heavy, long term use is associated with abnormal menstruation and decreased ovulation in women.

Alcohol is found in beer, cider, lager, wine, alcopops and spirits. It is illegal to sell alcohol to under-18’s (unless they are 16 or 17 and having a meal in a restaurant). Police will very soon have legal powers to confiscate alcohol from under-18’s in public. Alcoholic drinks come in different strengths, measured as a percentage (%) by volume. The higher the percentage marked on the label, the stronger the drink will be. Alcopops, including WKD’s, Bacardi Breezer’s and Smirnoff Ice’s are the most commonly drunk alcoholic drinks among teenagers, they also contain a lot more alcohol than many beers, lager and cider.

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