VAPING / E-CIGARETTES

What used to be considered a mostly harmless recreational activity (even marketed as much less harmful than cigarette smoking) is now revealed to be an addictive practice with physiological and mental effects, specifically among teens and young adults.

We are just learning about some of the effects. Because the chemical additives in vaping liquids most often including nicotine, some of the physiological effects are the same as what the body experiences with nicotine consumption.

This includes difficulty concentrating, moodiness or mood swings, memory loss and the risk of developing other addictions. What is experienced physically can range from the smoke being an irritant to the lungs and bronchial passageways to, as in recent news stories, serious damage to the lungs or even death.

And this is just what is known. Many physicians advise that the medical community is still unaware of the long-term effects, because vaping is so new.

Where there is physical, there is psychological.

In a recent study that examined the increasing use of vaping among university students, many users exhibited behaviors associated with mental health and drug-use problems.

The study concluded that while there is a need for long-term, continued research, clinicians and mental health practitioners should be aware of certain mental health conditions that are more common in e-cigarette users. According to the report, “those who used e-cigarettes were significantly more likely to have mental health histories of ADHD, PTSD, gambling disorder and anxiety, report low self-esteem, and endorse traits of impulsivity.”

What does this mean for those of us who care for teens?

Those of us who are in a position to influence or care for young people, can encourage them to be empowered to take responsibility for their health. As with anyone of any age, addictive substances can send quality of life on a drastic decline. Access to support groups and providing information on affirmative behaviors that redirect thought processes, coping skills and daily activities can be productive.

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