Smoking, alcohol, drugs and even gambling are all potentially highly addictive. But you probably already knew that. Why not take a look at how some of these addictions can affect your life. At least you’ll be in the know.
Young people sometimes start smoking out of curiosity, because they feel that holding a cigarette makes them look older, peer pressure or because it makes them feel like they belong. This is despite the fact that cigarettes are jam packed full of poisons (even the low tar or ‘light’ brands) which can cause all kinds of fatal diseases.
An estimated 450 young people take up smoking each day, and as a sign of how addictive smoking can be, research has found that 70 per cent of adult smokers originally started smoking between the ages of 11 and 15 years old.
But around 120,000 people die from smoking related diseases each year, many more than the 3,500 that die in road accidents each year. As well as costing you a fortune – a 20 a day smoker will spend over £1,500 a year on cigarettes.
It’s not easy to quit smoking, but there is plenty of help available. Research proves that the longer you smoke, the more you wish to give up and it becomes more difficult to do so.
Over 90 per cent of adults in Britain drink alcohol and a large proportion of young people do too. People drink for a variety of different reasons – to socialise with friends, with a meal in a restaurant, or to help them relax.
But alcohol misuse can be harmful, and young people are especially at risk when drinking because the effects of alcohol can vary dramatically depending on a person’s size and weight, along with the type of alcohol they are consuming.
Whether you are thinking about using drugs yourself or know someone else who is using them – it’s a good idea to know the facts.
Some drugs are more dangerous than others. Class A drugs, including heroin, cocaine, crack, LSD and ecstasy are the most dangerous. These drugs are highly addictive and can cause serious problems with anxiety, paranoia, heart problems or convulsions. You can also die from an overdose.
Gases, glues and aerosols can cause instant death the first time they are tried. Drugs such as cannabis also affect co-ordination, increasing the risks of accidents especially if driving.
Drugs are also highly illegal. For example, if you are caught with a Class A drug such as ecstasy you could get up to seven years in custody. If you are under 18 you could be sent to a Youth Offender’s Institution or another form of secure accommodation. Supplying someone else with ecstasy (including just sharing drugs) can get you life imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
Class B drugs, like speed, are also illegal. In January 2004, cannabis was reclassified from a Class B drug to a Class C drug. The purpose of this was to make it clear that experts knew that cannabis was harmful, but not as harmful as other Class B substances. Despite the change, it’s still illegal to grow, possess or supply cannabis to another person. The maximum penalty for supplying and dealing in cannabis will stay at 14 years imprisonment.
If you want to know more about drugs and their effects, or if you are worried about a friend or relative who may be using drugs Talk to Frank via the free, confidential drugs information and advice line on 0800 776600 (open 24 hours a day) or visit the Talk to Frank site.
For many gamblers, picking a winning horse or winning the jackpot on a gambling machine can be a real thrill.
But gambling can get out of hand. It is possible to become so addicted to the thrill of winning that gamblers find they start spending more and more time and money trying to win. People with a gambling problem can sometimes find themselves at the mercy of a vicious circle.
Like alcohol or drugs, gambling can be an addiction where the sufferer finds it impossible to live without a bet. Problem gamblers will resort to increasingly desperate measures to fund their habit, including stealing from family and friends. Many addicts find they are unable to pay for food or accommodation.
If you’re concerned that your gambling habit has become a problem and would like to speak to someone about it, take a look at the useful links.