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Anna DesCarpentrie

Division I - Essay

5th Grade - Age 11

Illinoise

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What are the Dangers of Electronic Cigarettes?

     Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are becoming more popular. Young people from middle school to high school are at a higher risk of using e-cigarettes. In recent years there has been a spike in usage. A graph from an article titled Know the Risks of E-cigarettes, states that use began to spike in 2018 especially in high school students. This behavior can begin to be influenced at a very young age. Being exposed to nicotine normalized at a very  young age can influence this. More than 7 out of 10 high schoolers begin to smoke tobacco products or use electronic cigarettes. 

     It is dangerous to begin using electronic cigarettes before the age of 25. At the age of 25 the prefrontal cortex finishes developing. Your prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that plays a role in controlling cognitive functions. This part of the brain controls impulsive thoughts and actions. If you begin to use electronic cigarettes before that part in your brain finishes developing it can be very very hard to stop. Although it is still hard to stop if you start at an older age. This all comes down to something called nicotine.

     Nicotine is an active chemical compound present in tobacco plants and products. Nicotine is what makes electronic smoking addictive. This also makes any kind of smoking addictive. As I said before, starting to smoke before your brain is developed can make it even easier to get addicted. Using this kind of drug can make it easy to forget stuff and make it harder to solve problems which is why we especially need to warn school-age children about the dangers of smoking.

     Nicotine and E-cigarettes also cause lung cancer. Electronic cigarettes contain chemicals known as diacetyl. That is heavily related to serious lung cancer. It also contains heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead. Which unsurprisingly makes e-cigarettes even more dangerous than normal ones. These are most of the dangers of e-cigarettes. Cigarettes are dangerous and we need to protect our younger community that are exposed to different nicotine products. This might be shocking, in an article The Facts on E-cigarettes in 2011 alone 1% of girls had used e-cigarettes and 2% of boys. And in 2018 it was 19% girls and 23% boys using e-cigarettes. Around that time people began to normalize smoking e-cigarettes which began influencing younger people. That is a large jump in seven years!

     As you can see, nicotine is not good for a growing brain and body. It is important to talk about the consequences of choosing to smoke regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Educating kids while they are still in school can help to keep them from starting to smoke. Preventing the choice to smoke can help kids lead longer and healthier lives. 

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Trevor Dyke

Divison II - Essay

9th Grade - Age 15

California

What is the Impact of Drug Addition on Society?

     The impacts of drug addiction are everywhere, even in ways that you may not even notice. Drugs are bad for everyone, even for the people who don't use drugs. From negative long and short term outcomes, to what it is costing, to the deaths it is causing, we are going to explore the impact drugs have on society. 

     Drugs have several negative long and short term effects that come with it. According to the article "What are the Effects of Drug Abuse," drugs affect you a long time after you quit. You may become depressed, nervous, and experience hallucinations (Eske). Not good.

     Money that could be used for rent, food, electricity, and water, is instead being used for drugs. It is estimated by Buddy T in his article "How Drug Use Affects our Society," the seven-hundred and forty-billion dollars a year goes to some type of drug, and one-hundred and ninety-three billion dollars of that goes to illegal drugs. Also, Michelle Shen says in her article "How much does the average American make? These Ivy League students think it's six figures," that the average American makes fifty-thousand dollars per year. Most of the people taking drugs are homeless, which means that they have less income. Also, according to Richard Eisenberg in his article "The Wrenching Financial Costs of Addiction", addicts spend around ten-thousand dollars a year on drugs. If you think about it, most addicts are homeless so they have less income, meaning that most of their income is going to drugs.

     I have talked about the effects drugs have on people, but I have yet to talk about something else being spent on drugs, lives. Last year, according to a SanFrancisco Chronicle article by Yoohyun, six-hundred and fifty people died from overdoses in San Francisco last year alone. The year before that it was seven-hundred and eleven. The number of people in San Francisco dying from overdoses is increasing. Since 2017, the amount of deaths have almost tripled. That is a lot of deaths. 

     Illegal drugs in some major cities are being completely ignored, or in San Francisco's case, promoted. According to Lee Ohanian in his article "Why San Francisco Is Nearly The Most Crime-Ridden City In The US," he explains that the politicians there have completely accepted illegal dugs and are giving away free needles to the addicts to inject themselves. The result is needles laying on the ground everywhere. He continues to explain that drug dealers from all over the country are going there because they are free to go sell drugs without police trying to catch them. I personally believe that is unbelievable. 

     To end, I would like to say that if we all work together we can stop people from taking drugs, stop drug deals from happening, and help the overdosed. I would also suggest for you to write to a government official telling them to promote stricter drug laws. 

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Jordan Weddle

Division III - Essay

11th Grade - Age 16

Indiana

     "The way I drank, it was progressive, but that first drink I had as a hot-shot kid, it was fatal," Before alcohol abuse permanently altered the trajectory of his life, AJ Diaz was a rising star at Manhasset High School. Being very gifted intellectually and generational talent on the football field meant that Diaz was on pace to be a Division I football player, however, alcohol robbed Diaz of his bright future. Starting at the age of sixteen, Diaz became an alcoholic. AJ began missing football practices and skipping school to drink and as a result, Diaz lost any chance of getting into a decent university. Alcohol is a special kind of thief, as it has the ability to completely destroy a human being under the guise of a pleasurable beverage, and like many adolescents of the twenty first century, Diaz made the imprudent decision to ingest this poison as a minor. Underage alcohol consumption has detrimental effects on an adolescent's physical health decision-making skills and emotional wellbeing.

     To a still-developing adolescent body, regular alcohol consumption can lead to the development of cardiovascular complications, or the development of severe types of cancer. If the adolescent body is a temple, then alcohol is the bulldozer that knocks the temple down, starting with the foundation: the human heart. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, regular alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on the heart, such as: the development of cardiomyopathy and the development of stroke, both of which can result in death. It is also important to consider that adolescents have significantly weaker hearts than the average adult, so underage drinkers have a very high rate of developing terminal heart conditions due to their drinking habits. Its is not only the heart that is negatively impacted by underage alcohol consumption, but also all other vital organs in the human body. 

     According to the National Cancer Institute, "The more alcohol a person drinks...the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer." From this statement, one can see that not only does underage drinking expose minors to cardiovascular issues, but also can greatly increase their odds o developing cancer later on in life. Teenagers may view alcohol as a "cool" beverage, but in all actuality, alcohol is a poison that zaps the life out of those who dare to ingest it.

     Not only does underage drinking have a devastating impact on an adolescent's physical wellbeing, but it also greatly impairs one's decision making abilities, and can lead to an increase in risky behavior. Alcohol is classified as a "mind-altering" drug, meaning it has the ability to inhibit the functions of the human brain. According to American Addiction Centers, "Alcohol decreases some of the activity of the prefrontal cortex. When you drink, alcohol makes it harder for the prefrontal cortex to work...disrupting decision-making and rational thought." From this statement, one can see that alcohol has the capacity to chemically alter the human mind and disrupt one's ability to make clear decisions. Those who consume alcohol while underage do not have fully developed prefrontal cortexes and under alcholol's influence tend to engage in risky behaviors that may have fatal repercussions. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse ad Alcoholism, "Each  year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking, this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes... ." With their biological compasses inhibited by alcohol consumption, adolescents tend to take risks that often result in serious injury or death. Alcohol is a drug that disguises its danger under the guise of a safe-to-consume beverage, and it is only through complete abstinence that the youth of the modern era may be protected from alcohol's spell. 

     Alcohol's effect on the mind of an adolescent does not stop with the disruption of decision-making skills, for underage drinking also has harmful effects on an adolescent's emotional wellbeing. According to Vertava Health and their findings on the emotional effects of alcoholism, "Alcohol use can cause or worsen feeling of depression. A person who has severe depression and uses alcohol is also at an increased risk of suicide. "Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it reduces feelings of arousal and stimulation which can lead to a loss of interest in activities once found pleasurable and lead to a deep depression. Not only can alcohol cause severe depression in teens and young adults, but it also can also disrupt their social patterns. According to Vertava Health, "Someone who uses alcohol may begin to drink in isolation or avoid situations where he or she can not drink excessively. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and loss of interest in activities." Teenagers are meant to be social creatures but upon consuming alcohol, teens often lose interest in interacting wit the world around them. Although teens associate drinking with a flourishing social life and a "good time", alcohol consumption produces the opposite effects, as excessive drinking can lead to depression and social withdrawals.

     When one considers how alcohol consumption negatively impacts an adolescent's physical health, decision-making skills, and emotional wellbeing, it is clear that drinking while underage is one of the most dangerous risks a young adult can take. Regularly consuming alcohol can put an adolescent at risk of developing terminal heart conditions or severe types of cancer later on in life. Consumption of alcohol also interferes with adolescents' capacity to make decisions, given how it impairs the prefrontal cortex, and can lead to them taking risks that can result in major injury or death. Also, alcohol consumption can lead to severe depression and social isolation, both of which have a detrimental effect on the mental health of a teenager. There is a reason alcohol is often referred to as "the devil in a bottle", as it is a poison that destroys the futures of many bright young adults.