Adolescence is a time of important physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development, but often comes with new social pressures as well. Most commonly, drug and alcohol use. Over one-quarter of high school students report that they have been offered, given, or sold an illicit drug on school grounds.

While it can be tempting to have a drink at a party or feel pressure when friends want to share drugs with you, there is a reason that adults tell you to just say no! The odds are stacked against you and your health when you choose to use, let alone abuse, either of them.  Drug use can cause serious immediate and/or long-term damage to the brain, liver, kidney, heart, and lung – just to name a few.

Different drugs will affect your health in different ways, but all of them can impair your ability to feel normal and think clearly, leading to poor, possibly destructive, decision making. Negative consequences from single or chronic drug or alcohol use can include:

Impaired driving. Driving under the influence of any drug can impair a driver’s motor skills, putting the driver, passengers, and others on the road at risk.

Sexual activity. Teen drug abuse is linked with poor judgment, which can result in unplanned and unsafe sex.

Drug dependence. Teens who abuse drugs are at increased risk of serious drug use later in life.

Concentration problems. Use of drugs, such as marijuana, might affect a teen’s memory and ability to learn.

Serious health problems. Ecstasy can cause liver and heart failure. High doses of or chronic use of methamphetamine can cause psychotic behavior. Chronic use of inhalants can harm the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Abuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications can cause respiratory distress and seizures.

If you or a friend are curious about drugs and alcohol, the best place to start is to educate yourself about the problems that drugs and alcohol cause. It’s also been suggested that drug and alcohol addiction stem from an inability to love oneself, or from a feeling of unworthiness. Ask yourself if there’s anything about yourself you don’t like, and how you can improve your self-esteem. Self-love is one of the most important things you can learn in life. Next, consider speaking with an adult, school mentor or trusted friend for support and information before deciding how to move forward. When it comes to drug and alcohol use, your entire life could be at risk with one wrong move.