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ABE - Biological & Agricultural Systems Engineering
PSY 2012
John Paul

For alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana, compare and contrast the positive and negative patterns and trends, what the current policies are and why, and what the policies should be and why. Alcohol Alcohol Alcohol is made through the fermentation of overripe fruit. Humans have been consuming alcoholic beverages for thousands of years and it is one of the most widely used drugs in existence. Alcohol slows down many functions of the body including the central nervous system. The body becomes sluggish and slower to respond to stimuli. Some of the effects of alcohol are clumsiness, inability to walk straight or stand, and slurred speech. These effects could be dangerous since it affects your abilities to leave an area quickly if you were in danger or to focus if you were driving a car. Alcohol does have many negative effects. One is deviant behavior. Deviant is defined as what sociologists see as deviant and what physicians regard as harmful: driving under the influence, smoking, engaging in criminal and violent behavior, putting oneself in situations is which becoming a victim of criminal and violent behavior is likely, engaging in risky sexual behavior, using and abusing illicit drugs, and committing suicide. Alcohol can be a key player in all of these situations. The most dangerous of these situations is driving under the influence. Over the years the number of fatalities from driving while under the influence has decreased. In 1982 sixty percent of all fatal crashes involved at least one driver under the influence. In 2008, the number dropped to thirty-seven percent. Although there has been a decrease alcohol still remains related to death on the highway. One third of all fatal crashes are alcohol related. Violent behavior also has a strong correlation with alcohol. Not only do drinkers have a higher chance of committing violent acts, but they also have a higher chance of being a victim. About a third of all violent crime was committed by someone who was consuming alcohol prior to the offense. Also two-thirds of all intimate partner violence was committed by someone who was under the influence. A positive aspect of alcohol is that in moderation alcohol could be enjoyable. Many people consume alcohol at social gatherings with friends and acquaintances. People in Europe consume wine at dinner. Although they consume wine nightly, there is not as much violence associated with alcohol. Also some wines are considered good for the heart. The main policy for alcohol is that to buy and consume alcohol, the person must be 21 years of age. President Reagan approved a bill setting the minimum drinking age. If the stated did not approve the minimum drinking age, they would lose funding for highway construction. Although the legal age is 21, many high school students consistently drink. Alcohol is not hard to find if you are not 21 years of age. Most students have siblings that are over the legal age or know someone who will buy them alcohol. Some parents even buy their children alcohol. Although most teenagers have the means to receive alcohol, I do believe that the legal age should stay the same. There should be more policies to stop teenagers from receiving alcohol. Tobacco Tobacco is a plant product that contains many different chemicals. These chemicals have a psychoactive property. The main psychoactive drug of cigarettes is nicotine. Nicotine is a poison and is lethal at about 60 milligrams ingested into the blood stream. Since cigarettes are smoked most of the strength of the nicotine is lost in the surrounding air. Nicotine has an effect on your blood and oxygen supply, but it does not affect your behavior or motor skills. A negative of tobacco consumption is that nicotine is addicting. There are many studies in the media today about how tobacco will have a negative impact on your health. Since nicotine is addicting it is hard to stop smoking cigarettes even though you know the risk. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that a non-smoker is likely to live until the age of 75, while a smoker is estimated to live until the age of 65. The Centers for Disease and Control estimates that tobacco causes around 440,000 premature deaths in the United States each year. Passive smoke, or more popularly known as second hand smoke, kills around 50,000 Americans annually. There are not many positives to tobacco. Many people say that it helps them relax. Many people who have stopped smoking resort back to tobacco if they are in a stressful situation. Some say that smoking looks dangerous and rebellious. It gives them the “cool” factor. People have to be eighteen years or older to consume tobacco. Like alcohol there are ways around the policy. Teenagers could steal cigarettes from their parents or have a friend buy it for them. In 1964, the U.S. government published a document stating that there are serious health risks associated with smoking cigarettes. Since that article there have been numerous articles, commercials, and other types of media that focus on educating Americans on the dangers of tobacco. I believe that the education is paying off. I do not know many people who do smoke. The only two smokers in my life are my two grandmothers who started smoking when they were in high school. The best policy to stop the consumption of tobacco is to educate the younger generation. The text book points out that many people start to smoke before they turn eighteen years of age. Marijuana Marijuana is also made from a plant. The cultivation of the cannabis plant and the use of marijuana have been around for thousands of years. THC is the psychoactive agent in marijuana that produces the high. There are many different percentages one can consume depending on where the marijuana was grown. The route of administration is also important. When the user smokes marijuana, some of the THC is lost into the air. Marijuana is the most consumed illicit drug in the United States. An interesting fact about the use of marijuana is that it takes up to three weeks to completely leave the body. THC is stored in the fatty tissue for long periods of time. After one week, twenty-five percent of the THC remains in the body. The slow rate of elimination could be medically harmful to the user if used consistently. Some acute effects of marijuana are a slight increase in the heartbeat rate and reddening of the eyes. It also diminishes motor coordination and impairs performance on driving. People who have taken marijuana will perform worse on unfamiliar functions than people who are not under the influence. A long term effect of marijuana use is the chance of an impairment of lung functioning. Since the marijuana smoke is held longer in the lungs than cigarette smoke it makes sense that marijuana would have an effect on the lungs as well. A positive of marijuana is that there is a safety factor. There have been no overdose deaths due to marijuana. Marijuana is one of the least toxic drugs known to humans. Another positive is that the user feels relaxed and peaceful while under the influence of marijuana. Users of other drugs reported feeling anxious and paranoid. At the moment marijuana is illegal in most states. Some states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Doctors are prescribing marijuana for cancer or chronic pain. Marijuana does not seem to have as many negative effects as alcohol and tobacco. I do not believe that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco and they are legal to people within the legal age. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alcohol has its negative effects. Alcohol can cause risky, deviant behavior. This is viewed as being harmful, driving under the influence, engaging in criminal and violent behavior, engaging in risky sexual behavior, using or abusing illicit drugs, or even committing suicide. A big problem we are facing is drunk driving. In 2008, there were 13,846 alcohol- related fatalities on the road. Alcohol causes a more likelihood that you will be involved in violence, whether it’s as the offender or victim. In 35% of all violent offenses committed yearly in the United States, the offender had been drinking prior to the arrest. There are also positive side effects to alcohol. As Goode mentions, alcohol is used at social occasions or gatherings such as births, religious ceremonies, marriages, and funerals. Alcohol is used for celebrating and entertaining. Alcohol can be used for special occasions such as Thanksgiving dinner, or for everyday use, such as having a glass of wine with dinner. According to Goode, alcohol contributes to the enjoyment of many activities; and in the United States alcohol has proven to be more beneficial than harmful. Alcohol is currently legal in the United States. With the exception of some “dry counties,” alcohol can be purchased almost anywhere, including airports, restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. In Florida, the legal drinking or purchasing age is 21. Some parents allow their children to drink at a much younger age. I think 21 is a reasonable age to be legally allowed to drink, but if you can buy cigarettes at 18, why is alcohol different? I think that at 18, you are more reckless and the effects of drinking would impair you to make a correct judgment or decisions. Tobacco contains a principal psychoactive drug, nicotine. Nicotine does not produce a great psychoactive effect on users. The effects of a small dose of nicotine are mild and transient. The effects of nicotine can be referred to as “a low-key high.” Using tobacco can be social, or relaxing. As a cigarette smoker myself, I know first-hand how a cigarette can bring positive side effects. After a good meal, or with your morning coffee, a cigarette can produce a relaxing effect. Some people even believe that tobacco can decrease your appetite. Tobacco has many negative effects. The damage done to your body is the most critical. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels, causing the heart to work harder to maintain a sufficient supply of blood and oxygen. Tobacco is used more frequently than any other drugs. Tobacco also causes damage to your lungs, teeth, clothes, ect. Your hair and your car stink. You have to inconveniently walk to the smoking section. Tobacco is also expensive. An average pack of cigarettes are $6, smoking a pack a day can cost you $2,160 a year! (This is why I should quit.) The current tobacco policy is you cannot purchase tobacco until you are 18. I think the age limit should be raised to 21. At 18, smoking can be considered “cool.” Most life-long smokers begin smoking at this age. If the age requirement was higher, maybe less people would be tempted to smoke. Worldwide, marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance. It is the fourth most used drug in the world, after caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. The acute effects of marijuana are reddening of the eyes, a slight increase in heartbeat rate, and a dryness of the mouth. Marijuana is one of the least toxic drugs, and it is impossible to die of an overdose of marijuana. Marijuana is not a violent drug, and can also be used as a pain reliever. The worst side effect of using marijuana is the increased appetite. Users can experience positive effects with the use of marijuana such as relaxation or pain relief. A study shows that marijuana users feel more peaceful and more relaxed, and they laughed more than they normally would. According to James Eastland in 1974, the negative effects of marijuana are brain damage and massive damage to the cellular process. Eastland claims marijuana causes cancer and the “anti-motivational syndrome.” However, studies on the effects of marijuana are debatable. Some studies have been known to be faulty due to experimental or measurement error. The negative effects of marijuana could also be the consequences of use, such as the legality of the drug. Without a prescription, carrying any amount of marijuana could be serious. You could face fines, tickets, and even a felony charge. If you t
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