People kill themselves slowly day after day. We do it day after day, sometimes even without knowing that we do things that are bad for our health. But some of our bad habits – things we do often, which are bad for our health in the long run – are more dangerous than others, bearing the ability to kill us instantly should we compress their daily use into a single, massive dose.
Smoking is one of the worst “bad habits”
Tobacco was cultivated and used in the Americas three thousand years ago, both for social and ceremonial purposes. When it was discovered by the explorers of the New World, it has become an item of great importance for traders, and slowly turned into a bad habit spread around all of the world. It’s a bad habit that is still increasingly popular – according to the WHO, almost 2 billion people will consume it in one form or another by the year 2025.
It is a well known fact that smoking tobacco causes cancer, and has many other long term effects on the users’ health. But let’s take a look at its short term effects. If you are a smoker, you surely remember the first time you puffed a cigarette, and what followed – dizziness, nausea and most likely vomiting. That was your body’s response to the toxins found in the smoke. Nicotine is the most potent toxin in tobacco, and it is a lethal poison to animals and humans alike. According to current estimates, a dose of between 30-60 mg of nicotine – the equivalent of two or three packs of cigarettes, depending on the brand and variety – can kill an average adult human instantly.
But we don’t consume so much of the stuff (I say “we”, because I’m a smoker, too), so an average smoker will only experience smoking’s lethal effects in a much longer term.
Driving is also a harmful bad habit
Most of you probably don’t consider driving a bad habit – but rather a necessity or a recreational activity, depending on your destination. But our cars are also generating smoke, and that smoke has the potential to kill us in an instant.
The exhaust smoke of an internal combustion engine – no matter if it’s gasoline or diesel powered – will generate a smoke with some very nasty ingredients. Among them we can find compounds like carbon dioxide, which is an important greenhouse gas, and carbon monoxide, which can cause serious tissue damage and death.
Carbon monoxide is dangerous because of its ability to bond with our red blood cells, much like oxygen. But, unlike oxygen, it doesn’t let go of our blood cells once it reaches the lungs, but keeps sticking to them. And it’s better at bonding with hemoglobin like oxygen, so important for our cells to function properly. So, when you inhale carbon monoxide, you are in fact choking from the inside.
While its CO content is far below that of cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes can also kill you in a very short time – according to some, it would take no longer than 15-20 minutes.
Alcohol can be lethal as well
While there’s no harm in downing a cold one every once in a while, you have to know that you are poisoning yourself in the process. But if you abuse of alcohol, the most fun of all bad habits can turn into a loaded weapon stuck against your head. Alcohol is a potent substance, able to kill germs and brain cells (actually, it is more dangerous for your liver). But if consumed in excess, alcohol can be lethal as well.
Ethanol, the type of alcohol usually found in drinks, is easily absorbed by our bodies and reaches our blood stream relatively quickly. But once its concentration reaches a certain limit, it will send us into a coma, and possibly even deeper – into the underworld.
According to Wikipedia, a blood alcohol level of 3 grams per liter will send you into a coma, and anything above 4 grams per liter can kill you. And such a concentration can be achieved through downing anywhere between 8 and 21 shots of distilled spirits within a relatively short period of time.