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United Prevention Partnership Coalition's Purpose

  • Promote community wide awareness and information sharing regarding substance use

  • Utilize education, enforcement, treatment and prevention

  • Coordinate and facilitate collaboration with community partners


What is marijuana?

  • Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. Stronger forms of the drug include high potency strains - known as sinsemilla (sin-seh-me-yah), hashish (hash for short), and extracts.

  • Of the more than 500 chemicals in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, is responsible for many of the drug’s psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. It’s this chemical that distorts how the mind perceives the world. In other words, it's what makes a person high.

What happens to your body when you use marijuana?

  • Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, a person’s heart rate speeds up, the bronchial passages (the pipes that let air in and out of your lungs) relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red. While these and other effects seem harmless, they can take a toll on the body.

  • Short Term Effects:

    • altered senses (such as seeing brighter colors)

    • altered sense of time

    • changes in mood

    • slow reaction time

    • problems with balance and coordination

    • increased appetite

    • trouble thinking and solving problems

    • memory problems

    • hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t really there)

    • delusions (believing something that is not true)

    • psychosis (having false thoughts) (risk is highest with regular use of high potency marijuana)

  • Long Term Effects:

    • Increased heart rate. When someone uses marijuana, the heart rate (normally 70 to 80 beats per minute)—may increase or even double,   especially if other drugs are taken with the marijuana. This increases the risk of a heart attack.

    • Respiratory (lung and breathing) problems. Smoke from marijuana irritates the lungs, and can cause a chronic cough—effects similar to those from regular cigarettes. While research has not found a strong association between marijuana and lung cancer, many people who smoke marijuana also smoke cigarettes, which do cause cancer.

    • Increased risk for mental health problems. Marijuana use has been linked with depression and anxiety, as well as suicidal thoughts among teens. In addition, research suggests that smoking marijuana during the teen years might increase the risk for developing psychosis in people with a genetic risk for developing schizophrenia. Researchers are still studying the relationship between these mental health problems and marijuana use.

    • Increased risk of problems for an unborn baby. Marijuana use during pregnancy is linked to lower birth weight and increased risk of behavioral problems in babies.


How does alcohol affect a person's body?

  • When people drink alcohol, they may temporarily feel elated and happy, but they should not be fooled. As blood alcohol level rises, the effects on the body—and the potential risks—multiply.

    • Inhibitions and memory become affected, so people may say and do things that they will regret later and possibly not remember doing at all.

    • Decision-making skills are affected, so people may be at greater risk for driving under the influence—and risking an alcohol-related traffic crash—or making unwise decisions about sex.

    • Aggression can increase, potentially leading to everything from verbal abuse to physical fights.

    • Coordination and physical control are also impacted. When drinking leads to loss of balance, slurred speech, and blurred vision, even normal activities can become more dangerous.

  • Consuming a dangerously high amount of alcohol can also lead to alcohol overdose and death. When people drink too much, they may eventually pass out (lose consciousness). Reflexes like gagging and breathing can be suppressed. That means people who have had too much alcohol could vomit and choke, or just stop breathing completely. Vulnerability to overdose increases if the teen is already on a sedative-hypnotic (such as Valium, Xanax, or Benadryl) or pain medication.

How does alcohol affect the teenage brain?
  • When teens drink, alcohol affects their brains in the short-term, and repeated drinking can also have an impact on the brain down the road, especially as it grows and develops.

  • Short-Term Consequences of Intoxication (being “drunk”):

    • An intoxicated person has a harder time making good decisions.  They also have impaired motor coordination.

    • A person is less aware that his/her behavior may be inappropriate or unsafe.

    • A person has a greater risk of being injured from falls or vehicle crashes.

    • A person may be more likely to engage in unsafe behavior, including drinking and driving, unsafe sexual behavior (like unprotected sex) and aggressive or violent behavior.

    • A person is less likely to recognize potential danger.

  • Long-Term Consequences as the Teen Brain Develops:

    • Research suggests that drinking during the teen years could interfere with normal brain development and change the brain in ways that:

    • Have negative effects on information processing and learning.

    • Increase the risk of developing alcohol use disorder later in life.

Prescription Drugs

What are prescription drugs?

  • Prescription drugs are often strong medications, which is why they require a prescription from a doctor or dentist. There are three kinds of prescription drugs that are commonly misused:

    • Opioids—used to relieve pain

    • Depressants—used to relieve anxiety or help a person sleep

    • Stimulants— used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Prescription drug misuse has become a large public health problem, because misuse can lead to addiction, and even overdose deaths.

How Prescription Drugs are Misused?
  • Taking someone else’s prescription medication, even if it is for a medical reason (such as to relieve pain, to stay awake, or to fall asleep).

  • Taking a prescription medication in a way other than prescribed—for instance, taking more than the prescribed dose or taking it more often, or crushing pills into powder to snort or inject the drug. 

  • Taking your own prescription in a way that it is not meant to be taken is also misuse. This includes taking more of the medication than prescribed or changing its form—for example, breaking or crushing a pill or capsule and then snorting the powder.

  • Taking the prescription medication to get “high.” 

  • Mixing it with alcohol or certain other drugs. Your pharmacist can tell you what other drugs are safe to use with specific prescription drugs.

  • What Happens To Your Body When You Misuse Prescription Drugs?

  •  Prescription drugs can help with medical problems when used as directed. However, whether they are used properly or misused, there can be side effects: 

    • Using opioids like oxycodone and codeine can cause you to feel sleepy, sick to your stomach, and constipated. At higher doses, opioids can make it hard to breathe properly and can cause overdose and death.

    • Using stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin can make you feel paranoid (feeling like someone is going to harm you even though they aren’t). It also can cause your body temperature to get dangerously high and make your heart beat too fast. This is especially likely if stimulants are taken in large doses or in ways other than swallowing a pill.

    • Using depressants like barbiturates can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, sleepiness, disorientation, and lack of coordination. People who misuse depressants regularly and then stop suddenly may experience seizures. At higher doses depressants can also cause overdose and death, especially when combined with alcohol.

    • In addition, misusing over-the-counter drugs that contain DXM (an ingredient in cold and cough medicines) can also produce very dangerous effects. Read more about misuse of cough and cold medications. 

  • Misusing any type of drug that causes changes in your mood, perceptions, and behavior can affect judgment and willingness to take risks—putting you at greater risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

  • Are Prescription Drugs Addictive?

  • Yes, prescription drugs that effect the brain, including opioid pain relievers, stimulants, and depressants, can cause physical dependence that could lead to addiction. Medications that affect the brain can change the way it works—especially when they are taken over a period of time or with increasing doses. They can change the reward system, making it harder for a person to feel good without the drug and possibly leading to intense cravings, which also make it hard to stop using.

  • This dependence on the drug happens because the brain and body adapt to having drugs in the system for a while. A person may need larger doses of the drug to get the same initial effects. This is known as “tolerance.” When drug use is stopped, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can occur. When people continue to use the drug despite a range of negative consequences, it is considered an addiction. When a person is addicted to a drug, finding and using that drug can begin to feel like the most important thing—more important than family, friends, school, sports, or health. 

  • Carefully following the doctor’s or dentist’s instructions for taking a medication can make it less likely that someone will develop dependence or addiction, because the medication is prescribed in amounts and forms that are considered appropriate for that person. However, dependence and addiction are still potential risks when taking certain types of prescription drugs. These risks should be carefully weighed against the benefits of the medication and patients should communicate any issues or concerns to their doctor right away.

  • Other kinds of medications that do not act in the brain, such as antibiotics used to treat infections, or drugs to help with heartburn, are not addictive.

Tobacco, Nicotine & Vaping (E-Cigarettes)

What are tobacco, nicotine and vaping (e-cigarette) products?

  • Tobacco is a leafy plant grown around the world, including in parts of the United States. There are many chemicals found in tobacco leaves but nicotine is the one that can lead to addiction. Other chemicals produced by smoking tobacco, such as tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, and nitrosamines, also can cause serious harm to the body. For example, tar causes lung cancer and other serious diseases that affect breathing, and carbon monoxide can cause heart problems.

  • These toxic chemicals can be dangerous. In fact, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarettes cause more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. This represents about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths, or 1,300 deaths every day. An additional 16 million people suffer with a serious illness caused by smoking. So, for every 1 person who dies from smoking, 30 more suffer from at least 1 serious tobacco-related illness.

  • Short-Term Effects:

  • When nicotine enters the body, it initially causes the adrenal glands to release a hormone called adrenaline, which stimulates the body and gives it a pleasurable “kick.” But the rush of adrenaline also causes the following:
    • increased blood pressure
    • increased heart rate

    • faster breathing

  • Long-Term Effects:

  • The nicotine is addictive, and as people keep using tobacco, they are continually exposed to many toxic chemicals found in the tobacco (or produced by burning it). These include carbon monoxide, tar, formaldehyde, cyanide, and ammonia. Tobacco use harms every organ in the body and can cause many serious health problems, listed below.

  • Smoking Tobacco

    • Cancers. Cigarette smoking can be blamed for about one-third of all cancer deaths, including 90% of lung cancer cases. Tobacco use is also linked with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, ureter, bladder, and bone marrow (leukemia).       

    • Lung Problems. Bronchitis (swelling of the air passages to the lungs), emphysema (damage to the lungs), and pneumonia have been linked to smoking. People who smoke can’t exercise or play sports for as long as they once did.

    • Heart disease and stroke. Smoking increases the risk for stroke, heart attack, and other diseases of the blood’s heart and circulation system that can lead to death.

    • Cataracts. People who smoke can get cataracts, which is clouding of the eye that causes blurred vision.

    • Loss of sense of smell and taste. This also includes bad breath.

    • Aging skin and teeth. After smoking for a long time, people find their skin ages faster and their teeth discolor.

    • Risk to unborn baby. Pregnant women who smoke are at increased risk for delivering their baby early, having smaller babies, or suffering a miscarriage, stillbirth, or experiencing other problems with their pregnancy. Smoking by pregnant women also may be associated with learning and behavior problems in children.

    • Fire-related deaths. Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths—more than 600 deaths each year, in some cases caused by people falling asleep with a lit cigarette that causes a house fire.

  • Secondhand Smoke

  • People who do not smoke but live or hang out with smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke—smoke that is exhaled or given off by the burning end of tobacco products. Just like smoking, regularly standing near smokers increases your risk for disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Each year, an estimated 58 million Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and more than 42,000 nonsmokers die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure.2 Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke. It is unclear what long- term side effects there are from exposure to e-cigarette vapor, but one in four U.S. middle and high school students say they've been exposed to unhealthy secondhand aerosol from e-cigarettes.3 Long-term effects can include: 

    • Cancer. People exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk for lung cancer by 20% to 30%. About 7,300 lung cancer deaths occur per year among people who do not smoke but were exposed to second hand smoke.

    • Lung problems. Secondhand smoke causes breathing problems in people who do not smoke, like coughing, phlegm, and lungs not working as well as they should.

    • Heart disease: Secondhand smoke increases the risk for heart disease by 25% to 30%. It is estimated to contribute to as many as 34,000 deaths related to heart disease.

    • Health problems for children: Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, lung infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma.    

  • Smokeless Tobacco

  • The health effects of smokeless tobacco are somewhat different from those of smoked tobacco, but both can cause cancer and other effects: 

    • Cancers. Close to 30 chemicals in smokeless tobacco have been found to cause cancer. People who use smokeless tobacco are at increased risk for oral cancer (cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue, and pharynx) as well as esophageal and pancreatic cancers.

    • Heart disease and stroke. Recent research shows smokeless tobacco may play a role in causing heart disease and stroke.

    • Mouth problems. Smokeless tobacco increases the chance of getting cavities, gum disease, and sores in the mouth that can make eating and drinking painful.



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