The conversation surrounding e-cigarettes and vaping has undergone quite a revolution since the introduction of this cigarette alternative about a decade ago. Initially, e-cigarettes were lauded as a safe way to quit smoking and other tobacco products. However, that initial campaign didn’t factor in the trendy appeal of vaping.
Now, many parents are shocked to find their teenagers engaged in vaping, also called Juuling after the popular e-cigarette brand Juul. In fact, here at Sundance Canyon Academy for troubled teens, we have seen a spike in the number of teens who vaped before attending our private academy.
If you have been concerned about your teen vaping but aren’t certain how to effectively address the problem, we have gathered the information that can help you take action and help prevent your teen from vaping.
Is Teen Vaping A Real Problem?
There is still a fairly dismissive attitude toward the problems vaping brings. You may have had your teen tell you that vaping is safe and that it’s just water vapor. But in reality, vaping is far more dangerous than just big clouds of water vapor.
For one thing, it is not likely that your teen is using nicotine-free e-liquid, which means your teen is abusing a highly addictive substance. On top of that, Juul—which is one of the most popular e-cigarettes among teens and young adults—cartridges contain an entire cigarette pack worth of nicotine in just one cartridge. Other vaping cartridges aren’t much better.
Along with that, there is a veritable chemical cocktail of things in an e-liquid cartridge other than the delivery water and nicotine. For instance, the flavoring, such as cotton candy and watermelon, which has made vaping so popular among younger people, can cause health issues and is unregulated. There are also heavy metals in vaping liquids such as lead, nickel, and tin.
Even more alarming is the rate at which teens are experimenting with vaping. From 2017 to 2019, teen vaping has doubled. Teenagers were surveyed from 8th grade up to 12th grade, and in this short span of time, usage of e-cigarettes jumped across the board.
This growth of e-cigarette usage represents a serious danger to the rising generation, as we are just now starting to understand the health implications surrounding vaping.
How Vaping Can Impact Your Teen’s Health
Far from being harmless water vapor, using e-cigarettes can have a serious impact on your teen’s health. At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that nearly 1,500 people have suffered lung injuries, which have been associated with using e-cigarettes. The ages of the patients range from 13-75 years old.
Along with lung damage, teen vaping can also cause these health issues:
Impair brain development – As the human brain continues to develop until a person reaches 25 years old, keeping teens substance-free is especially important. Otherwise, the nicotine can impair the natural development of your teen’s brain.
Cause substance dependency – Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that many people struggle to quit using. If your teen carves a nicotine dependency into their brain pathways while young, it can cause decades-long dependence on nicotine products and potentially lead to other types of substance abuse.
Corrode dental health – Using e-cigarettes can dry out the mouth and make it easier for tooth decay to set in and spread. Also, some of the chemicals in vaping liquid can be corrosive to the enamel of your teen’s teeth, leaving them vulnerable to bacteria.
Impact overall mental health – Part of the attraction of vaping is the heady rush that nicotine provides. However, substance abuse can trigger mental health issues, and as your teen comes off of a nicotine thrill, they can experience depression, anxiety, and other issues.
Cause severe injuries – It has only been in recent years that attempts to regulate e-cigarettes have occurred. This lack of regulation leaves dangerous vaping products on the market. Some people have had the lithium-ion battery catch fire and even explode, causing serious injuries, and in a few cases, leading to death.
Ways To Detect Teen Vaping
Determining whether or not your teen vapes can be difficult. For one thing, there is a lot of variability when it comes to vaping equipment, as pictured above. Frankly, that image doesn’t come close to representing the available e-cigarettes. Some even look like everyday items like USB drives.
However, if you do find something that you suspect is a vape, do a quick online image search to help confirm your suspicions. As for physical signs of vaping that your teen may display, here are some of the most common signs that your teen is vaping.
Moody and withdrawn
Guards belongings like their backpack
Constantly broke and asking for money
Unexplained sweet smell (from flavored vaping liquid)
Spike in dental issues such as cavities
Depression and/or anxiety
Some of these signs can overlap with other behavioral or emotional issues, which is not unusual since substance abuse like vaping is often comorbid with other issues.
What Parents Can Do To Halt Teen Vaping
Teens often test their growing independence, and vaping may be one of those ways in which your teen pushes boundaries. If your teen is vaping, here are some things you can do to help them stop.
Talk to your teen about vaping – Many teens know nothing about vaping other than what their vaping peers have told them—mostly that vaping is harmless. To help your teen understand the real risks they are taking, talk to them about the dangers of vaping.
Also, it is important that you understand what motivated them to start vaping. Sometimes it is as simple as peer pressure; however, the motivator can be something else, such as anxiety, loss of a loved one, and other stressors.
Set up rules and consequences surrounding vaping – If you didn’t have clear rules and consequences for vaping, then it is time to set them. Teens will often attempt something, and when called to account for their behavior, they will say that they didn’t know you explicitly didn’t want them to do it.
Help your teen find healthier interests – Teens who vape often aren’t engaged in anything productive. Instead of leaving them with boundless time to sneak off with other people to vape, work with your teen to help them find other healthy hobbies. Local sports leagues, music, art, and other hobbies can help fill your teen’s time and provide them with new friends to spend time with rather than fellow vaping peers.
Work with a local therapist – There are very few programs designed to help teens break substance abuse issues outside of residential treatment centers. The next best option before having your teen enter a treatment center is working with a local therapist.
You may have to search for a while to find one with the specialties that your teen needs, but by working with a licensed therapist, your teen can learn positive ways to manage their life and feelings without turning to substance abuse.
Consider a residential treatment center – For teens who are particularly resistant to changing their behaviors, attending a residential treatment center can help significantly. Not only can your teen break their substance abuse habit while attending, but there are many other benefits.
For one thing, your teen won’t be around the influences that drew them to vape. Also, your teen will have an individual care plan that includes immersive therapy, academics designed to engage your teen and get them back up to speed with their peers, and other encompassing activities.
To learn more about Sundance Canyon Academy and see if our program is a good fit for your teenage son’s needs, feel free to contact us for a consultation with one of our program advisors.