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Parents Role in Helping the Teen Come Out of Addiction

Alcohol is the most often used illegal drug in this country. Alcohol smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day. Not everyone who uses Alcohol becomes addicted; however, when a user begins to seek out and take the drug compulsively, that person has become addicted.

Short-term effects of Alcohol include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, dry mouth and throat, and anxiety. Since Alcohol use can affect thinking and judgment, users can forget to have safe sex and possibly expose themselves to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. People who use Alcohol a lot may lose interest in how they look and how they're getting along at school or work. Athletes may find their performance is off; timing, movements, and coordination are all affected. These effects are even greater when other drugs are mixed with Alcohol.

Alcohol has serious harmful effects on the skills required to drive safely: alertness, the ability to concentrate, coordination, and the ability to react quickly. These effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking Alcohol. Alcohol use can make it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. Heavy or daily use of Alcohol affects the parts of the brain that control memory, attention, and learning. A working short-term memory is needed to learn and perform tasks that call for more than one or two steps.

Contrary to popular belief, most teenagers have not used Alcohol and never will. Long-term studies of high school students and their patterns of drug use show that very few young people use other illegal drugs without first trying Alcohol. For example, the risk of using cocaine is 104 times greater for those who have tried Alcohol than for those who have never tried it.


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