2023 ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS!
1st Place Winners
Division I - Essay
4th Grade - Age 10
Why is Alcohol use dangerous for adolescents?
" About 40 percent of 12-20-year-olds reported having tried alcohol at least once." (NIAAA) Reading this statistic makes me feel like s someone needs to stop this. Why? Because alcohol harms the human body. Alcohol can harm the brain, cause poor decision-making and make you do harmful behaviors.
Alcohol causes harm because it affects the frontal lobe, hippocampus, amygdala, and corpus callosum. These areas include decision-making, learning and memory, fear sensing, and communication between the sides of the brain. This scares me. It must be weird without memory and fear sensing because I rely on my memory and fear to avoid scary things.
Alcohol can cause poor decision-making. For example, people who drink alcohol can have difficulty controlling impulses and making healthy choices. It also tricks the mind into drinking more often and motivates drinking in the future. I don't want to experience being drunk and losing my ability to make good decisions I like being in control of my body.
Alcohol can also cause harmful activity such as drinking and driving, less sleep, and the use of other drugs. I think the there should be a place where people get checked for alcohol because people can get hurt by these harmful activities.
As you can see alcohol is bad for adolescents because it affects the brain, causes poor decision-making, and can b harmful to the adolescent. I will make sure that I will not be one of the 40% of 1-20-year-olds who have tried alcohol and not just me but my friends and my family. Writing this has taught me a lot about alcohol and why to avoid it.
Divison II - Essay
8th Grade - Age 13
DANGERS OF E-CIGARETTES
Even though it seems like vaping is a safer alternative to smoking, it is almost just as bad. Vaping is dangerous because of its ingredients its impact on the user, and how it affects society as a whole.
The main problem with electronic cigarettes is that they contain nicotine, a highly addictive and harmful substance. It increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Nicotine also prevents brain development and can cause weaker bones, especially in adolescents. It relaxes the brain causing many people to return to it to relieve stress. These cigarettes also contain diacetyl, a buttery chemical flavoring found in candy, popcorn and many baked goods. Although diacetyl is safe to ingest, it is dangerous to inhale. Vapes have many other chemicals, like diacetyl, which can cause lung diseases. They also contain heavy metals and many fine particles which can be inhaled deep into the lungs.
Electronic cigarettes can cause various problems in its user, including cancer and popcorn lung. Vaping also can cause asthma as well as other breathing issues. One of the biggest problems is a severe and potentially fatal lung disease called EVALI. EVALI causes widespread damage to your lungs and has side effects like coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. With the addictive nature of nicotine, vaping can cause the user to spend money on buying vapes. There have also been many incidents where the vapes have exploded and burned. Many people who vape often smoke when they grow older.
As with many things in life, the things one person does affects the people around them. When people vape, they expose those around them to nicotine and the other harmful chemicals found in vapes. Vaping can also get in the way of a healthy relationship. Sometimes when young people vape, they try to hide it from their parents, causing broken relations. People are sometimes abandoned by friends who do not want to be influenced by their habits.
Many people think that vaping is a good way to stop smoking. In reality, according to the Cleveland Clinic (my.clevelandclinic.org). Only about 18% of people who vape to quit smoking actually quilt. Many of then end up hooked on electronic cigarettes instead. This is compared to the 91% of people who quit using other methods. If you or someone you know vapes, you can get help from a medical professional to stop vaping. Although it is tough to stop vaping, the damage it leaves once you stop will be far less than the damage you cause to yourself and others if you continue.
Division III - Essay
12th Grade - Age 17
"Drug action doesn't last forever, you either get clean or die." Before drug addiction permanently altered her trajectory in life, Victoria was just an ordinary teenage girl from a small town in Missouri. When a friend offered Victoria some crystal meth, Victoria reluctantly agreed, and so began her addiction. Victoria went on an extreme downward spiral, cutting off her family members, stealing money to make just enough to buy another dose, and giving up on school altogether. In a few short months, Victoria went from a promising high school student and one of the top students in her class to a street rat begging for drug money. Drug addiction has a catastrophically negative impact on society on a legal, economic, and familial level.
There is a definite correlation between the abuse of drugs and the rise of criminal activity in the United States, as those who abuse drugs are more likely to engage in illegal activity. In a research study conducted by the National Institute of Justice, a research branch of the United States Department of Justice, it was concluded that "more than half (58%) of state prisoners and two-thirds (63%) of sentenced jail inmates met the criteria for drug dependence or abuse" (Bronson I). This data indicates that there is a concrete connection between the abuse of drugs and the continuously growing crime rate in the United States. Why is it, however, that drugs are perpetuating the rise of crime in the United States? According to the Foundations Recovery Network, drugs have a tendency to heavily impair one's critical thinking skills, leading to one making poor decisions, such as engaging in criminal activity. The Foundations Recovery Network conducted studies that show certain drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamines, and alcohol impair a person's ability to tap into their frontal lobe and utilize critical thinking skills that could potentially prohibit them from making poor decisions, such as driving while intoxicated or committing theft. When one considers the link between criminal activity in the United States and the abuse of illegal substances, one comes to the understanding that it is neither overly idealistic nor foolhardy to suggest that complete abstinence is a method by which the United States could effectively lower its crime rate.
Not only does drug abuse contribute to the ever-growing crime rate in the United States, but it also has a palpable negative effect on the growth and development of the United States economy. Vertava Health conducted an investigation on the toll drugs take on the United States economy, and their findings yield that the selling and abuse of illegal drugs cost the United States a staggering $600 billion annually. The slippery slope that is the United States debt is getting continuously steeper, and drug addiction only perpetuates this increase as it causes the United States to waste its valuable dollars on rehabilitation centers, foster care systems, and on-the-job injuries. Furthermore, the drug industry costs the medical industry specifically, over $180 billion per year for healing drug-related injuries, conducting psychiatric evaluations, and rehabilitation centers for addicts. That is $180 billion annually that medical researchers and doctors could be using to find cures for various ailments and degenerative diseases, rather than fixing the problems drugs create. The longer society continues to abuse narcotics, the more we pay for it in government money and resources.
Beyond hurting the United States economically, drug addiction also has the capability to strain family relationships and decrease children's chances of becoming functional members of society. The United Recovery Project examined many cases of drug addiction around the country, and their findings showed that 80% of all drug users had a strained relationship with their families as a result of the drugs they were abusing (United Recovery Project). One specific addict, named Victoria, recalls what her relationship with her mother was like after she began abusing drugs, "It was okay for a while, it destroyed my relationship with everyone my mom mostly. We are no longer close anymore." Because of Victoria's choice to continue misusing heroin and crystal meth, her relationship with her mother suffered as a result. Children who have parents prone to drug addiction are more likely to have a favorable attitude toward drugs and undertake an addiction to them that those whose parents do not abuse drugs. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information yielded this conclusion: "compared to participants whose parents did not currently smoke, participants who reported one or both parents currently smoke had increased odds of ever smoking" (Wilkinson). When a parent decides to smoke, they are not only putting themselves at risk but also their children, as children are more likely to inherit a habit of smoking if their parents partake in tobacco abuse. Adding onto this is the fact that a parent that abuses drugs is more likely to neglect the physical and emotional need a child requires to survive. Drug addiction is a special kind of thief, it takes the hearts of the addict's loved ones, and rips them in two.
When one considers the adverse economic effects, the strain it causes on families, and the strong correlation between drug addiction and criminal activity, it becomes clear that drug addiction has a devastating impact on society. For one, drug addiction and crime are clearly linked and so long as drug addiction continues to rise, so will crime. Furthermore, drug addiction costs the United States and the medical industry millions of dollars that could be used to cure diseases or decrease the national debt. Lastly, drug addiction causes the straining and breaking of family relationships, and can have a profound negative impact on today's youth. Like Victoria once wrote there are only two ways to end drug addiction: sobriety or death. If today's society fails to take a stand against drug abuse, then it will succumb to a terrible fate.