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Teens and Vaping: What You Need to Know About Nicotine Addiction

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Although e-cigarettes have been around for over 10 years, use of vaping and JUULs have increased in record numbers over recent years, particularly in teens. E -cigarettes are currently the most popular tobacco product used among teens. About 2.1 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2017. Sarper Taskiran, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, attributes the recent rise in popularity to the way it is packaged and advertised. “The teens are after innovation and they’re attracted by sleek design and ease of use,” he says. “They look like an Apple product.”

The nicotine content of one JUUL pipe, a popular vape device that comes in different flavors, looks like a flash drive and can be charged in a USB port, is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes. A newly popular type of device called “pod mod” is 2 – 10x more concentrated than most free base nicotine found in other vape liquids. A single pod from one vape manufacturer contains 0.7 ml of nicotine, equivalent to about 20 regular cigarettes. Due to these high levels of nicotine, nicotine poisoning is also on the rise. Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include nausea, vomiting, increased blood pressure, extreme fatigue, dizziness, headache, anxiety and vision/hearing changes.

Teens may be drawn to using nicotine due to the rise in popularity of these products and their fancy packaging, however, other teens may be using to cope with difficult emotions such as feelings of depression, anxiety, anger and attention problems. The truth is nicotine can cause anxiety symptoms or make them worse. Without applying appropriate or healthy coping skills to these feelings, teens can become dependent or addicted to nicotine on an emotional and physical level. Teens are more susceptible to addiction because their brains are still developing. The adolescent brain is more sensitive to rewards making it difficult to stop. Nicotine can also cause physical changes in the brain- some temporary, others more permanent, leading to problems with focus, memory, and learning.

Nicotine addiction from vaping is a bigger problem than teens realize. Adolescents do not think they will get addicted to nicotine but when they try to stop they find it difficult. Common barriers to quitting include having to inform parents they smoke, not knowing how to get help, lack of transportation to treatment and lack of third party reimbursement for treatment.

Despite its extremely addictive nature, teens can successfully quit using nicotine with personalized approaches. Early intervention is key. Destinations is here to help educate and increase awareness about teens and nicotine addiction. For more information contact Cynthia Della Ripa at Destinations for Teens at (818) 737-2221 or [email protected].

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