What's easy isn't always right, and what's right isn't always easy.
It isn’t always easy to say no. Especially when you find yourself in situations where it seems like you are the only one not drinking or doing drugs, but we promise, you are not alone. In fact, the majority of teens make the decision to abstain from using drugs and alcohol. It’s easier to stand by your decision when you feel prepared and know what you’re going to say when they are offered to you. Here are some tips on how to navigate that sticky situation:
- Blame your parents. “My parents would kill me.” is something everyone can relate to. You can tell your friends that your parents breathalyze you or you don’t want to get grounded because of big upcoming plans you have.
- Keep busy. If you are at a party and you already look like you are having fun dancing, telling jokes, engaging in conversation etc. you will be less of a target for unwanted offers.
- Stay cool. If you act like saying “no” is no big deal, then most likely the people you’re with won’t think it is either.
- Have a backup plan. Set up a code word with a parent or older sibling you can text that can help you get out of an uncomfortable situation.
- Pick a new crowd. Real friends will respect your decision to not drink or do drugs. Try to surround yourself with people who support you and avoid situations where you know you might feel pressured to do things you don’t want to do.
A decision today can affect your future forever
In Florida, the possession of alcohol by a minor is usually classed as a second-degree misdemeanor. A first offense could mean a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. A second offense is considered a first-degree misdemeanor that can lead to $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
Drug possession by a minor and Florida can vary from a simple misdemeanor to a felony possession charge depending on the substance and amount. For teens, it’s especially important to note that possessing drugs of any amount within 1,000 feet of a school is classed as a felony charge and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. While these cases are handled in juvenile court, the judge may feel the defendant should be tried as an adult which may result in higher fines and longer sentences.
Physical and Emotional Consequences
Between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five, your brain is going through a lot of developmental changes. That is why drinking at a young age, especially in excess can be damaging both physically and mentally. Drinking alcohol leads to a greater risk of memory and learning issues and increases the risk of alcoholism later in life. It can cause delayed puberty, lower bone density, liver damage, and can stunt your growth.
While there are some states that have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of twenty-one. Studies have shown that marijuana use can alter the structure of the teenage brain, specifically in areas that handle problem solving and memory.
No Opinions. No Rumors. Just the Facts.
Alcohol is a liquid that is produced through the natural fermentation of sugars that can come from fruits or grains. The consumption of alcohol can dull the senses, leading to slower reaction time and weakened muscles. Alcohol affects the portion of the brain responsible for decision making and the central nervous system and slows down important functions in the body. With these functions slowed, everyday tasks become more difficult, or even dangerous, such as driving a car. The more a person drinks alcohol, the more alcohol they will need to feel the same effects later, and this leads to addiction. Those who start drinking alcohol at a younger age are more susceptible to becoming addicted to the substance.
Cigarettes are tobacco leaves that have been rolled in paper, and oftentimes have a “filter” on one end. Cigarettes contain nicotine, among other drugs, all of which have addictive properties for the smoker. The addiction to the ingredients in cigarettes can cause smokers to feel pleasure from smoking so much so that they are only able to experience that feeling by continuing to smoke. The physical effects of smoking cigarettes are plentiful from asthma and lung damage, to lung cancer. In addition, it can cause arteries to harden, unnecessary stress to the heart, and eventually to heart attacks. Not only are cigarettes harmful to the smoker, but they are harmful to people in the vicinity of the smoker as well. Studies have shown that second-hand smoke is as harmful if not more than smoking first-hand.
Vaping is the use of an e-cigarette device that heats liquid containing nicotine, flavorings, and sometimes marijuana, which is then inhaled into the lungs. The long-term health effects of vaping for both users and those exposed second-hand are still being studied by scientists, though vaping is known to have negative effects on respiratory health and cause lung disease. Young people, whose brains are still developing, are at a higher risk for long-term, lasting side effects of exposure to the nicotine which can harm the portions of the brain responsible for attention and learning.
Marijuana is dried leaves and stems from the cannabis plant, and contains the mind-altering chemical THC, among other compounds like CBD, which are not mind-altering. You may have also heard marijuana referred to as “Mary Jane,” “weed,” “pot,” or “herb,” among others. THC is the chemical in marijuana that makes users feel “high,” and impairs basic coordination, like the ability to drive. In addition, marijuana affects the parts of the brain responsible for controlling emotion, memory, and judgment. This can cause memory and learning issues for young adults that use the substance. Regular and repeated marijuana use can lead to addiction in the same way that other drugs and alcohol can, meaning that people that use marijuana may be unable to stop even if they want to.
Smokeless Tobacco Facts
Smokeless tobacco is the same tobacco present in cigarettes and is often referred to as “spit,” “dip,” “chew,” “snus”, or “snuff,” of which vary slightly. Snuff is finely shredded tobacco that is placed inside the cheek, chewing tobacco is larger pieces of dried tobacco that are chewed to release nicotine into the user’s system, and snus is chemically treated tobacco in a small pouch that is then used in the same way as snuff. Smokeless tobacco products can lead to cancers of many types, including oral, throat, and pancreatic. In addition, the use can lead to tooth loss, gum disease, permanent facial disfigurement and paralysis, and scarring. Just as any other product containing nicotine, chewing tobacco can lead to addiction as well.
Prescription Drugs: Opioids Facts
Opioids are prescription pain medication and are given to patients under the supervision of a medical doctor. The use of prescription opioids by someone other than the prescribed user, or in a way that was not directed by a medical professional is not only illegal but dangerous. Opioids cause a release in dopamine, the chemical that makes you feel relaxed and happy, into the brain, and binds to the portions of the brain that perceive pain. As this effect can confuse the brain’s reward center, it is an easy route to addiction if not managed carefully by a doctor. The side effects of opioids can range from sleepiness and nausea to slowed or stopped breathing, which can even result in death. For this reason, it is very important to use prescription opioids as directed and only under the supervision of a doctor.
Prescription Drugs: Depressants Facts
Depressants are a drug prescribed to patients under the supervision of a medical doctor, and they slow down the activity of the brain. Depressants are often used for patients that are anxious or have trouble sleeping. Because depressants are used to slow brain activity, side effects can include slurred speech, lack of coordination, and even slowed breathing, which, just like opioids, can result in death. For this reason, it is very important to use prescribed depressants under the supervision of a doctor and only as directed. The use of depressants can also cause dependence, or addiction, and can lead to extreme withdrawal symptoms if not used appropriately.