Drugs Around Usby Stacie Bell, Moline, KSWhat do you think of when you think about drugs? Heroin? Cocaine? Usually we think about these illegal, hard drugs, but what about those being used around us every day? They affect our lives more than we think and in more ways than one. Alcohol and tobacco are so common that we never remind ourselves that they are drugs, too; they are addictive, and harmful.When I mention tobacco, I am talking about smokeless tobacco as well as cigarettes. Many people feel chewing isn't nearly as bad as smoking, but I think it is. Certain brands of chewing tobacco have as much nicotine in one can as a pack of cigarettes. You know what really upsets me? People who criticize those who smoke but can't go through a day without a dip themselves. However, I'm not saying it is okay to smoke. Smoking not only hurts the smoker, but also the people around them because of second-hand smoke.Another subject that gets to me is all the athletes, both amateur and professional, who use these drugs. High school students have training rules; when they break them by going to a party and drinking, or sitting around at home smoking a cigarette, they are not only hurting themselves but their team as well. What about those athletes who follow the rules, and choose to give up that "good time" everyone tells them they are missing out on? Is it really fair to them? Then there is always the other side. Athletes are looked up to a great deal. They are role models. Whether you are a high-school basketball player in a small town or a professional football player, there are kids out there who look up to you. Your actions could have a major effect on their lives. Many athletes argue that they didn't ask for it to be this way, but it is. It isn't something you simply decide on. Really, what do these drugs have to offer? Let's just think about it for a second: smoking causes lung cancer, teeth discoloration, and bad breath. Chewing tobacco causes mouth cancer and gum disease. Alcohol can cause cirrosis (destruction of the liver). The nervous system is affected also. Blurred vision and slow reflexes can result while you are under the influence of alcohol. It scares me to think about the price we pay, and for what - a good time, fitting in? Why do we do this to ourselves? We all have a choice about how drugs will affect our lives. It is your job to decide how they will affect yours. tf
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.