An article about the effects of smoking, alcohol and drugs.
The Effects of Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs
Tobacco contains a drug called nicotine. This drug speeds up the heart rate and raises blood pressure. Because of these changes a smoker has an increased chance of heart disease. Other problems are caused when tobacco is smoked. The lungs have a mechanism to keep themselves clean. This involves producing a layer of mucus that is moved upward to the throat by moving hairs called cilia. Smoking slows down the movement of the cilia and produces more mucus. This can collect in the bronchioles causing a smoker’s cough. Germs can more easily get into the lungs, making diseases such as bronchitis more common. If this is not cleared up, permanent damage to the lungs can occur. The bronchioles become narrower and this makes breathing more difficult. The alveoli break up to form large air spaces, reducing the surface area, which is able to absorb oxygen. The person has to breathe faster to receive the same amount of oxygen. This illness called emphysema will eventually be fatal. Smoking can also increase the chances of lung cancer. Even non-smoking does not remove all the health risks of smoking. It has been shown that passive smoking can lead to certain health risks.
Alcohol in small amounts can reduce inhibitions and boost confidence. Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows down the drinker’s reactions. Coordination is clumsier and vision can become impaired. For these reasons, there is a severe limit on the concentration of alcohol permitted in a driver’s blood. Unfortunately, no driver can know how much alcohol they can drink and still remain below the limit as each human body uses up alcohol at different rates. A half pint of beer, glass of wine and single whisky all contain one unit of alcohol. In large amounts, alcohol causes uncontrollable behaviour. Drinking alcohol can be addicted.
Like tobacco and alcohol, other drugs can affect the nervous system, which controls the operation of the body. There are four types of drug:
- Sedatives – which slow the brain down and make the person sleepy
- Stimulants – which speed up the brain and make a person more alert
- Hallucinogens – cause a person to have imaginary experiences
- Pain killers – which remove our sense of pain