In early 2019, the National Institutes of Health reported a dramatic rise in e-cigarette use among teens. In a survey of 44,000 eighth, ninth, and 12th graders conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 37% of high school seniors stated they had used a vape at least once in 2018 compared with just 28% in 2017.
This percentage includes nicotine as well as THC vapes, which contain the active chemical in cannabis. Is vaping safe? Although most scientists think that e-cigarette use is relatively safe for adults who are using vaping to quit smoking, teens are discouraged from e-cigarette use because of its serious potential health consequences for young people.
Health Risks of Vaping
As of October 2019, more than 1,000 lung illnesses related to vaping have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 150 of these cases have affected teens, including one 13-year-old.
Authorities aren’t exactly sure how vaping causes this disease, which has been associated with the death of a 17-year-old from New York and at least 25 other people. Because vaping is so new, researchers still don’t know how it may affect the body over months and years.
Vaping also exposes teens to addictive nicotine, which makes those in this age group more likely to become addicted to other dangerous substances as they age. Nicotine also impacts mood, attention, learning, concentration, and memory as well as brain development among teens.
The brain does not reach full adult development until age 25, which increases the chances that nicotine will result in significant changes in the way the brain works. Pediatricians have reported intense mood swings, extreme headaches, insomnia, and uncontrollable anger after teen patients who vape discontinue the use of the drug.
E-cigarettes were initially designed to help smokers quit by delivering nicotine without tobacco and cancer-causing chemicals. However, many teens and adults end up vaping as well as smoking cigarettes. They can still become addicted to nicotine even if they only vape occasionally.
Juuling, or the use of a branded e-vape called a Juul, is especially dangerous because of the high nicotine content of its proprietary cartridges–as much of the drug in one pod as in an entire pack of cigarettes according to the company’s marketing materials. The brand also markets the product to teens by selling fruit flavors.
How Parents Can Prevent Teen Vape Use
If you have caught your teen vaping or suspect that he or she may use e-cigarettes, it’s important to know the facts and present them to your child openly. Many teens are unaware of the potential side effects of vaping or the true nicotine content of these devices.
Basing your discussion on proven information can increase the likelihood that your message will be heard. Ideally, you should begin talking to your children about nicotine and other addictive substances during the elementary school years.
Setting a good example is also critical. If you smoke, take steps to quit. Talk to your kids about how it affects your health and how difficult it is to stop smoking.
Lawmakers are also taking steps to address the vaping epidemic among teens. In several states, the minimum age to purchase vape supplies has increased from 18 to 21. Juul has pulled their flavored pods from shelves after the allegation that these products have been marketed directly to youth.
Addiction is the most troubling side effect of vaping for many teens and parents. If your teen is unable to stop using e-cigarettes, seek help from the team at Anthony Louis Center.
We specialize in substance abuse rehabilitation for clients ages 13 to 18, including assessment, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, and diagnosis and treatment for coexisting mental health conditions. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation for your child.
Image Credit: Shutterstock By Aleksandr Yu