Teenagers tend to enjoy partaking in risky activities, it is in our nature as our pre-frontal cortex which dictates decision making develops. This means we are highly susceptible to doing things that may not be the best for us. A common activity is drinking alcohol or taking drugs, doing this while underaged can have large repercussions on our mental and physical development and can of course lead to addiction, depression, anxiety and more. But we all know this, I first learnt about these effects in primary school but why are we still drinking and abusing drugs?

There may be other aspects that play into this such as the conformity theory, which described that we may change our behaviour due to normative conformity where we want to fit in with the group but we don’t internally agree with their actions. In these types of situations, we may act to please others but repeating this behaviour over and over again allows us to internalise it and make it normal activity. We have reached a point where we have adopted the group’s behaviour and adopted it as one of your beliefs. It starts with a harmless hit of a vape at a gathering which turns into an uncontrollable addiction. This is how many people first experience things and dive into the deep end without knowing the effects on your mind and health.  I strongly believe it is important to research anything you are trying out and to figure out how that affects your mind and body and whether the effects that come with this are something  I want to accept and welcome into my life? Are the benefits really worth the horrible side effects? By asking yourself these questions you are able to stay in control and ahead of the curve.

The raging vaping epidemic is all over the news as vapes and e-cigarettes have become readily available for purchase anywhere which is why 37% of 12 graders vape. But its just vapour right? And it’s safe? Technically, sure-it is approved by the government but there is a multitude of unknown substances such as heavy metals, ultrafine particles that penetrate deep into the lungs, volatile chemicals and more, unlike smoking these substances have unknown long term consequences. The inhalation of these chemicals impairs the performance of your lungs and can cause immense disturbances when attempting to exercise, preventing you from living a healthy lifestyle. 

With the number of my peers using such substances and being addicted to nicotine, it makes you question the education we were given about these topics and its apparent lack of effectiveness. Because of how easily addicted you can become to nicotine, it can be very difficult to quit and takes an immense toll on you to the point it seems easier to just keep doing it. But it is important to recognise that this lifestyle is not healthy and living off of feelings of high and of longing for another hit. I recommend confiding in a trusted friend, asking for help and using easily accessible resources around you such as helpful websites to get a better understanding of the steps you can take to minimise withdrawal symptoms. 

I assure you that taking small steps to better your mental and physical wellbeing will allow you to become a more content person and will help you to find balance emotionally, mentally and physically. The toll these substances have on you and the feeling of detachment, never really being able to fully be present and experience reality adds up and it really rewires your brain. It can be tough realising this but the first step to a healthier and stronger mind is to recognise that you are in control and have the power to stop. 

For help please look through and reach out to your school counsellor and Kely support group