This is a huge problem for teens. According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 3 million students in middle and high schools currently vape.
What is Juuling?
The most popular vaping device they’re using is the Juul. This e-cigarette is so small and discreet—it looks just like a flash drive—that the inhaling motion is often unnoticeable. While the Juul is not meant for adolescent or teenage use, it’s become wildly popular among this population. (So popular, in fact, that “Juuling” is now a verb among teens.) It’s sleek, it’s small, and has bright colors and an easily concealable design. Its “cool” messaging appeals to teens—to their detriment.
Teens are using the Juul, and other similar devices, to vape everywhere they can, including at school. And they’re getting sick at an alarmingly fast pace. While vaping is considered a bit less harmful than actual smoking, both can cause a host of negative complications. As a rule, inhaling addictive substances—like the flavored nicotine found in almost all e-cigarettes, or the cannabis teens substitute it with—is never a good idea for teenagers. These substances cause physical and mental complications that are harmful to teens’ developing brains. Marijuana usage causes memory and concentration issues, which can lead to dangerous and reckless behavior. Nicotine is highly addictive. For adolescents, whose brains are still developing, any nicotine exposure is harmful. Plus, these vaping liquids often contain concerning chemicals and additives, like vitamin E acetate, which the CDC states is linked to lung damage when inhaled.
Signs a Teen May Be Vaping
Parents of teens with substance abuse or mental health issues should monitor their children’s behavior carefully. If you find what looks like a larger-than-usual flash drive in your child’s backpack or room, or your teen is holding what looks like a Juul pod, scrutinize it. Some e-cigarettes can also look like pens. Other signs that may indicate your teen is vaping include: mouth sores, dry mouth, strange coughing, nosebleeds, and an unusually sweet scent.
Parents, teachers and school administration officials should also be cognizant of a process called “zeroing,” which is when a teen manages to vape by not letting out any of the smoke they inhaled. This enables adolescents to vape discreetly. In today’s generation, the presence of an adult does not hinder a determined teen’s willingness to use recreational drugs.
Advice to Parents
- If you’re not sure whether your teen is vaping, find the right moment to have a conversation with them. Ask if they’ve ever tried e-cigarettes, or been offered the chance to vape. Remaining calm and relaxed during the discussion will encourage your teen to open up to you honestly.
- If you know or suspect that your teen has a substance abuse problem and your teen refuses to admit it, you can administer a drug test. Urine drug tests are commonly administered at a doctor’s office. Or, you can purchase an over-the-counter home drug-testing kit from the pharmacy. Keep in mind, however, that some resourceful teens can circumvent such drug tests.
- If your teen admits to vaping but dismisses its dangers, ask your family doctor to speak to them about the health risks of e-cigarettes and drugs at their next appointment.
- If you suspect that your teen is smoking or vaping regularly, take action. Your teen might need professional treatment, especially if they cannot stop using these substances. Start by scheduling an assessment for substance use with a clinical professional at an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or partial hospitalization program (PHP). If in fact your teen has a substance abuse problem, they’ll need treatment at a mental health treatment center.
Mental Health Issues and Vaping
Mental health issues are often the real culprit when teens turn to substance use. More and more teens are turning to drugs to numb the internal emotional pain from depression, anxiety, PTSD, ODD, ADHD, or another mental health issue. These mental disorders can make an adolescent’s internal life so unbearable that marijuana and nicotine seem like welcome reprieves from the intense misery. But in actuality, substance use actually worsens the effects of mood/psychiatric disorders. If your teen has a mental health problem in addition to their substance use, seek treatment at a dual diagnosis treatment center for adolescents.
In short: Parents who find that their teen is regularly vaping or smoking need to seek immediate treatment for their child. Inhaling addictive substances, whether it’s nicotine or marijuana, causes both short-term and long-term health consequences. If your teen has a substance abuse problem, get in touch with an adolescent drug rehab/dual diagnosis treatment center today.
About Evolve Treatment Centers:
Evolve Treatment Centers, accredited by CARF and The Joint Commission, offers the highest caliber of evidence-based treatment for teens, 12 to 17 years old, who struggle with mental health, substance abuse, and/or behavioral issues. Evolve offers teens and their families a full continuum of care, including Intensive Outpatient (IOP), Partial Hospitalization (PHP), and Residential Treatment Centers (RTC). With more than a dozen facilities throughout Southern California and the Bay Area – including in Danville, San Jose, and Gilroy – Evolve is the leading provider of adolescent mental health treatment in California.
To receive a free clinical assessment for your teen, contact Evolve at (877) 455-7009. To learn more about Evolve’s programs, visit http://www.evolvetreatment.com.