When kids hit their teen years, they want to be in control. They want to choose everything from their food options, their friends, and of course, their bedtime. They are ready to be adults who are free from their parents’ reign. But when it comes to vaping, there is a touch of irony that seems to be lost on the masses. Kids want to be free yet can’t seem to realize that their rebellious choice to vape is actually another governing body telling them what to do and when. Why? Because vaping is an addictive behavior that aims to control a person’s life.
If you pay attention to the news, you’ve probably seen the latest stories about vaping-related deaths. While the CDC is still investigating the incidents, we know the victims were, in fact, using vaping pens/e-cigarettes. Because vapes are so new, there is limited data surrounding their effects and now, death-related experiences.
What Do We Know?
- Case 1: An adult male from Illinois died from what the CDC is calling “a vaping-related condition.” They know he suffered from a respiratory issue and passed shortly after.
- Case 2: A middle-aged person from Oregon died from an e-cigarette illness. The THC oil and pen were both purchased legally from a dispensary. This is the first death related to items purchased from a licensed pot shop.
While these cases were fatal, they are merely a piece to a larger puzzle. At the beginning of September, the CDC reported “215 possible cases of severe lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes” by 25 states. There have also been over 200 cases of vape users who have been suffering from unexplained respiratory issues and other side effects. The CDC has a lot of questions and is launching a full investigation. Are the issues stemming from the THC/nicotine cartridges? Are people mixing other substances? Were these cartridges and devices legally sold, or were they from a second-hand dealer? Without this information, we are sitting in the dark, once again, in a smoking-related conflict.
Bottom Line: Is Vaping Harmful?
If you think back to cigarette marketing in years past, doctors and celebrities willingly advertised the deadly sticks. Cigarettes were popular, but we can’t forget why. They were, and are, marketable and addictive. At the time when cigarettes were starting to take off, researchers didn’t know the full extent to what a cigarette would do long-term, but if we use some rational thinking, there are a few conclusions we can make about vapes and e-cigarettes without the help of a Ph.D. and a lab.
- Nicotine is addictive-the chemicals in THC/nicotine cartridges are addictive. They create a physical need in the body and an emotional need in the mind. Spin it any way you want, but the product many people want to defend is addiction’s voice telling you to keep smoking.
- Smoking can cause cancer and other health issues– we know what smoking does to the body. It causes respiratory issues, mouth and teeth issues, and can ultimately lead to cancer. These are hard facts about smoking, and they haven’t been ruled out when it comes to this new form of smoking.
- Sucking on a battery cannot be good for you– whether you want to argue that THC isn’t harmful like the chemicals in cigarettes, one thing holds true. We do not have enough information to prove sucking on a battery won’t cause harm. The same discussion happens regarding other technologies such as cell phones and microwaves. There is a correlation waiting to unfold in the years to come.
The CDC’s Brian King commented about this very issue. He stated while people perceive vaping to be far less dangerous than regular cigarettes, there are still chemicals in the product that are known to cause illness and cancer, such as heavy metals and diacetyl which gives the vape it’s “buttery flavor.” They are still working on correlations, but one thing he can say for certain is that “the e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless.” We may not know the end result, but because of all the research connected to smoking, we know this behavior will have a consequence.
How Can I Stop?
When it comes to vaping, the first thing we must acknowledge is an addiction. If we need to vape, we are caught in addiction’s web. There are no ifs, ands or buts around the issue. Vaping is a behavior that directly connects to chemicals altering our body and our minds. Like any addiction, to break the habit, it’s going to take some will power and some coping mechanisms.
Many have been using vapes to stop smoking. However, this is like saying I’ll stop drinking vodka and switch to beer, or I’ll stop doing opioids and take Suboxone instead. Yes, you might be trying to use the step-down method in good faith, but the truth of the matter is you’re switching out one addiction for another and rationalizing it with weak argumentation.
To fully break an addiction, it means figuring out why you need the substance, acknowledging your triggers, and setting up an accountability plan. There are myriad programs out there to help you quit smoking. There are online resources, group therapy, and even individual therapy to help you get to the root of your triggers. Most importantly, if you’ve experienced any of these side effects—breathing issues, coughing, pain in your chest or throat, or fatigue—reach out to a healthcare professional immediately.
Quitting anything isn’t easy. Whether it’s a negative relationship to an illegal substance or what we perceive to be a harmless task of using an e-cigarette, addiction is going to do its best to beat our willpower down. If you or an adolescent you know is struggling to overcome an addiction, reach out to The Bougainvilla House family therapy center today. We pride ourselves in helping our youth break negative patterns and thrive with their families. Call 954-764-7337 today to learn about our treatment options and group programs: