Society has sensationalized the use of drugs and alcohol. It has become normal for teens to “experiment” with them, and for parents to come home from work and have a drink or smoke a cigarette. Everything from TV shows and music to colleges being graded on their party scene, both promote and fantasize alcohol and drugs, making younger generations see it as a way to forget their problems and have fun.
This is a dangerous mindset to fall into. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 50 minutes one person dies in a motor vehicle crash that involves an alcohol-impaired driver. Furthermore, the Upper Peninsula Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) shows that the number of U.P. adults that reported driving intoxicated in the last month is twice the Michigan rate.
Communities That Care sent an anonymous survey to schools around the UP about drug and alcohol use. These results were compiled and included in the Health Needs Assessment. This survey shows that over half of high school seniors and about 40% of juniors in Luce County have drunk more than just a few sips of alcohol in their lifetime.
Binge drinking is the most common type of excessive drinking. Binge drinking is classified as 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women, and 5 or more drinks for men. The U.P. CHNA results showed that 14% of adults are heavy drinkers and 12.9% are binge drinkers. Binge drinking and alcoholism have serious risks. They are associated with a variety of problems, including but not limited to, alcohol dependence, memory and learning problems, unintentional injuries such as car crashes or alcohol poisoning, and violence.
Similarly, drug use has grave repercussions. On average, 115 Americans die every day from a drug overdose and these numbers can be expected to rise with increased use in tobacco and the misuse of prescription drugs. Additionally, teen marijuana use is at its highest in 30 years. The Communities That Care survey reported that 20% of 12th graders in Luce County have used marijuana in their lifetime, making them susceptible to try other, more dangerous drugs. Drug use has a wide range of short and long term effects. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that short term effects can range from changes in appetite, sleep cycle, and blood pressure, also making you more susceptible to a heart attack, stroke, psychosis, and even death. Long term effects can include heart or lung disease, cancer, mental illness, and HIV/AIDS.
Drug use also puts you at very serious risk of drug addiction. Drug addiction is characterized as a brain disorder, the drug altering certain chemicals and circuits in your brain. These changes can affect functions such as learning, judgment, decision making, stress, memory, and behavior.
If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction, the best thing you can do is reach out for help, it is never too late. AA Fellowship meetings are available in Newberry and surrounding towns, contact your local church or check out the Newberry News for more information.