Know Your Facts: Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs are chemicals that alter certain functions of the body. Some drugs are legal and others are not. Alcohol is a drug that is legal for adults but illegal for those under the age of 21. Medicines are also legal drugs if they are prescribed by a doctor or are available for purchase without a prescription in a store. Such medicines are only legal if used for their intended purpose, in their indicated doses and, in terms of prescription medicines, by the person to whom they are prescribed. When used incorrectly, these drugs are not only illegal but they can cause dangerous addictions that can result in a number of health problems and even death. Illegal drugs are against the law when used by adults as well as teens. These drugs are illegal because of the dangerous effects that they can have on parts of a person’s body such as the brain, lungs and heart. Illegal drugs are purchased from street dealers who may actively attempt to sell drugs to teens. Illegal substances, often called street drugs, include but are not limited to cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana. Being a teenager can be the best or the most difficult time of a person’s life. Teens often face a great deal of stress and pressure that are caused by a number of different things, such as the need to fit in or the desire to get good grades. Unfortunately, this may lead teens to experiment with drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with stress, become part of a group or satisfy curiosity. This can create a negative situation that results in poor grades, loss of friends, arrest for illegal possession or use of narcotics, poor health, injury or even death. As a teen, it is possible to live above the influence of drugs and alcohol. Whether a teen is using drugs, has questions about them or is afraid for someone who has a problem, there are always positive steps that can be taken. The first thing a teen can do is to talk to someone, ideally a parent, with concerns about drug and alcohol use. If this is not possible, he or she can talk to a teacher, doctor or counselor. These authority figures can help steer teens toward the help that they need to overcome addiction or stop drug abuse before it becomes addiction. There are also organizations with websites that offer advice on how to get help for an addiction and how to avoid drug use altogether.