Many people use alcohol, tobacco, or recreational drugs for pleasure. However, all of these substances may cause severe health problems. Knowledge of their harmful effects can help you to make informed choices about whether or not to use them.
Alcohol is safe in moderation, but having more than two or three drinks a day can pose short-term risks, from alcohol poisoning to traffic accidents. In the long term, excessive alcohol consumption causes serious problems, such as heart, liver, and brain disease, and can lead to alcohol dependence.
Tobacco smokers are exposed to over 4,000 chemicals, including nicotine, which is addictive, and other chemicals that increase susceptibility to cancer and to narrowing of the arteries, a cause of heart disease and stroke. The smoke may also have adverse effects on the health of people, particularly children, who live around a smoker.
All recreational drugs alter your state of mind; many, such as LSD and marijuana, can impair judgment and increase the risk of accidents. Drugs may be highly addictive and may cause death from overdose or side effects. Most recreational drugs are illegal.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.