2021 ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS!
1st Place Winners
Division I - Jefferson Dhas
Why Alcohol is Dangerous for Teens
Although alcohol is dangerous for all ages, they are especially dangerous for teens. According to NIH, 5,000 people under the age of 21 die from underage drinking every year. Common causes of death for miners are car crashes, homicide, suicide, drownings, burns, and falls. So, if alcohol is dangerous for all ages, why the emphasis on helping prevent drinking in teens?
The main reason it is crucial for teens not to drink is that their brains are still growing, and alcohol can affect brain growth. Alcohol causes short-term consequences short-term issues such as not recognizing danger, doing dangerous things without knowing it, and having a greater risk of being injured from falls or crashes (This is because they are not conscious of what is happening).
The main long-term effect is brain development, as bad brain development can cause a higher risk for an alcohol use disorder later in life. It can harm processing and learning. Brain damage, both long-term and short-term, is a major problem for teens who drink.
Underage drinking (drinking under the age of 21) is also illegal and can get you into trouble with your school and the law. Teens who drink also get alcohol-related blackouts. Blackouts are times after drinking where the brain does not make any memories.
Even after knowing this, some teens still choose to drink, but it sometimes is not fully the teen's fault. Some teens feel the urge to drink to get rid of stress or to try something distinct. Sadly, rather than making things better, alcohol makes things worse by causing short and long-term problems. If you know someone that drinks, tell a trusted adult. If you have a drinking problem, please get guidance from others.
Division II - Giovanna Burgos
What are the dangers of Electronic Cigarettes?
Inhale..Exhale...it smells delicious and tastes good. Many think to themselves, "vaping electronic cigarettes is not smoking weed or doing drugs, so what could be so dangerous about it?" Electronic cigarettes are full of a neurotoxin called nicotine. Nicotine, in the words of a health and wellness article is, "according to the National Health Institutes, as addictive as herion and cocaine" (Capritto).
Many studies and doctors have proven that e-cigarettes slowly destroy your brain. In a study done by the University of California, it was discovered that the nicotine in e-cigarettes is causing calcium to increase rapidly in the neural stem cells. This can lead to cell death (Best). Cell death is not the only reason vaping affects the brain, however. If kids and teens begin to vape, nicotine can, not only damage their learning ability, impulse control, and brain development, but their mood and attention span can also be affected as well. ("Quick Facts on the Risks...").
The substances in e-cigarettes damage your lungs and cause lung disease. In the words of the American Lung Association, e-cigarettes produce aldehydes that "can cause lung disease, as well as cardiovascular disease" ("The Impact of E-Cigarettes on the Lung"). When you vape, you are more likely to get diagnosed with lung-hurting diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ("Vaping and Your Heart: What We Know So Far"). You may not think about it while you are breathing into the e-cigarettes, but when you vape you hurt the very thing that helps you breathe.
Vaping not only affects your physical body, but E-cigarettes also affect your mental health. JAMA Network did a study and found that "e-cigarette users were more than twice as likely as the general population to report having had depression" (Vaping and Depression Go Hand-in-Hand"). Chronic nicotine consumption causes your anxiety or depression to be amplified if you vape. Vapers are also "more likely to report low self-esteem, impulsivity, and to have mental health histories of attention deficit disorder, anxiety and more." (Fogarty).
In conclusion, if you vape you are endangering your brain, lungs, and mental health. Every day you have the choice to put nicotine and everything it brings with it in your body or not. Every day that decision is made and whatever the outcome may be, those dominoes falling in place will have been your choice. Think before you vape. Your brain, lungs, and mind will be depending on it.
Division III - Jordon Weddle