Essay Contest Winner

Pictured from left to right:  Barb Harpster (Media Consultant, Altoona Mirror),
Joe Meadows (Partner, The Meadows Original Frozen Custard of Hollidaysburg),
Camryn MacAlarney (Essay Contest Winner), Fred Imler Sr. (President, Imler’s Poultry)

Congratulations to Camryn MacAlarney, an 8th grader at Altoona Area Junior High School, whose essay was chosen out of 191 entries as the winner of the Altoona Mirror and Operation Our Town Essay Contest!

Camryn received $250 in gift cards to The Meadows Original Frozen Custard in Hollidaysburg.  Co-sponsors of the Essay Contest were the Altoona Mirror, Imler’s Poultry, and The Meadows Original Frozen Custard in Hollidaysburg.

Below is Camryn's winning essay on how drug abuse would affect your education and career:

When something new is introduced to you, have you ever thought, “Well, I’ll just try it?” While trying things can be a fun experience and you might discover something you love from it, such as a new food or sport, sometimes it’s not good for you. In the case of drugs and alcohol, it would be much better for you to not “just try it.” Drugs and alcohol contain addictive chemicals that can severely affect you, your life, those around you, your education, and your career.

To begin, abuse of drugs and alcohol can cause many physical and mental health issues over time. For example, those who smoke tend to be more depressed than non-smokers, and are more likely to contract diseases such as lung cancer. Often times, drugs are offered at social gatherings, and a desire to fit in may cause people to try the drugs in order to “fit in.” This is how drug addictions can start. Using drugs can cause your brain’s hormones to change and recognize the drugs as a necessary part of life, like food or water. The substance acquires the same significance or becomes more significant to the user compared with friends, family, a career or job, and good self-esteem. Alcohol abuse can cause long-term effects such as cardiovascular and liver diseases, cancer, respiratory infections, nerve and brain damage, and ulcers. Heavy drinking may also cause risky behaviors and make drinkers more prone to accidents, injuries, and violence. Alcohol related incidents make up about 40% of fatal motor accidents, and roughly half of fatal burn injuries, homicides, and drowning. Just one bout of binge drinking could cause a destroyed balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, which brings about depression, anxiety, agitation, memory loss, and seizures. This can even cause death for some people.

In continuation, the use of drugs and alcohol can severely affect your education and career. Drugs and alcohol can cause sleep deprivation, which can make a person useless in a school or work environment. If a person’s boss or a teacher figures out a person is a drug or alcohol addict, they will be forced into rehab and unable to continue their job or schoolwork while in rehab. In addition, if a person shows up at school or their job visibly high or intoxicated, they will likely be fired or suspended. Because of the behavioral issues drugs and alcohol can cause, a person may have issues in a school or work environment that have to do with anger or violence towards others. Use of drugs and alcohol may also cause a person to not show up to their job or school at all. They may feel as though doing drugs or drinking is more important than going to their job or school, so they may find ways to skip or get out of their school or work early. Some may even drop out. By doing drugs or alcohol during school years, a person will be unable to receive a proper education due to their addiction. Without a proper education, there is little hope for a successful future.

To conclude, the effects of drugs and alcohol can severely affect a person, their life, those around them, their education, and their career. Use of these substances can lead to addiction, and that addiction could ruin, or possibly even end a life. If you or someone you know is having trouble with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, reach out to a local helpline. Do yourself, and those you are close with a favor, and reach out for help today.