An altered state of reality

Ava Gruener, Insight Editor

“Nothing bad can come from only smoking occasionally… Drinking once a week does not result in any permanent damage” – wrong. In the same way that Coach Carr in “Mean Girls” argued sex will result in pregnancy and death, students spread and cling to common fallacies about the effects of drugs and alcohol. When confronted with concern about substance use, many teens respond with unsubstantiated claims such as “I only drink when I’m with my friends” or “I only smoke when it’s offered to me.” These phrases stem from the belief that this infrequency protects them from harm. The truth remains, no matter how often or how much a student uses them, drugs and alcohol cause damage.

According to a study done by the Boston Globe, teens who use marijuana “occasionally,” show signs of abnormality in the brain.  Their decision-making, emotions, and motivation receive the brunt of the negative effects.  The occasional smoker is defined as someone who smokes “four joints per week.”  Many students at Palmetto will find that number not uncommon among peers. After prolonged intake of THC, a chemical found in marijuana, researchers drew a disturbing conclusion; the brain tricks itself into forming new connections that perceive marijuana as an extraordinarily rewarding and stimulating drug.  Essentially, the brain will begin to recognize marijuana as a pleasure principle, even after infrequent exposure to the drug.

Similar unawareness of consequences holds true for alcohol use. A UK research team concluded that over 83 percent of high school age teenagers reported unsafe levels of intake to be labeled as  “social drinking.”

This ignorance is undoubtedly a cause for alarm when considering the future of our generation.  Teenagers unwittingly poison their body with every sip and puff they may take at parties.  While the notion seems unattached, consider a workforce full of adults with poor decision-making skills and volatile emotions.  The results will not be pretty.

The question now remains, what can be done?  How can the education system change the ingrained principles of stubborn and arrogant high schoolers?  The answer is simple– they cannot.  The change must come from within.  This calls for a new kind of medical revolution, a revolution that fights to change the ideology of a misguided and uninformed youth.  Teens must self-educate, because often the only people that our generation believes or trusts, are ourselves. In this case, ignorance is not bliss.  All it takes is a simple Google search to gain some valuable information – it may even save your life.