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The Dangers of Teen Vaping

Teen boy and girl vaping together indoors  

Using e-cigarettes, also called vaping, has become popular in recent years. This method of using nicotine involves vaporizing water that contains nicotine and inhaling it instead of the traditional method of burning tobacco and inhaling the smoke. Other drugs besides nicotine can be inhaled in this fashion, and sometimes illegal drugs such as marijuana may be vaped along with nicotine.

The dangers of vaping are becoming more and more evident. Initially, vaping was promoted as a way to quit smoking or as a healthy alternative to smoking. However, as more evidence comes out and as the long-term effects of vaping are better understood, it has become obvious that vaping can lead to serious health risks.

Teenagers may be more likely to be affected by vaping than adults, and studies have shown that there is a risk to teenagers’ brain development, as well as a higher chance of addiction. Vaping has become increasingly popular with teens in recent years, with over one-third of teenagers who are in 12th grade reporting vaping.

What Are the Risks of Vaping?

There are several risks to vaping that have been discovered and other health risks that are still being studied. Some of the risks of vaping include:

  • Dangerous chemicals that are frequently used, such as diacetyl, a chemical known to cause lung disease, and benzene, a dangerous chemical found in car exhaust fumes.
  • Increased risk of lung damage as the ultra-fine particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs.
  • Heavy metals are often found in vaping solutions, and a small amount of heavy metal can lead to dire health consequences.
  • Nicotine is often more concentrated in vaping solution and may lead to more harm than the level of nicotine in traditional cigarettes. It may also increase the risk of lung cancer and brain damage.
  • Addiction is a likely risk for those who vape products containing nicotine or other addictive drugs.
  • Explosions have been reported from defective e-cigarette batteries and have led to burns and injuries.

Long-Term Health Effects Still Unknown

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about vaping and has explained that many of the possible long-term health effects of vaping are still unknown. Vaping is a relatively new trend that was invented in 2003 and only became more common around 2010. Because it is a newer trend, it is impossible to fully understand the long-term effects that it could cause. With traditional smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), the most common lung condition caused by smoking, typically takes about 25 years on average to develop. It is likely that vaping could cause significant long-term health risks, but these effects will probably not be known for another few decades.

Vaping in the News

Vaping has started to gain more attention as a possible public health issue and more people are becoming aware of the risks of vaping because of the news. Recently, a vaping-related illness has gained national attention as people across the country have been developing an unknown lung disease that seems to be related to vaping marijuana. This has even lead to death in some cases.

In June of 2019, a vaping battery explosion was prominent in the news when a vaping pen exploded in the mouth of a 17-year-old boy causing severe facial injuries. The latest vaping news has continued to center around the growing understanding of the dangers of vaping, and this increased coverage will likely lead to a greater understanding of these dangers by the public.

Signs a Teen Is Vaping

Because vaping can be dangerous, it is very important for parents of teens, or those who spend time around teens, to recognize when a teen is vaping. Some of the signs that a teen is vaping include:

  • Sweet-smelling breath, due to flavors and sweeteners in the vape solution
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in behavior
  • Sensitivity to caffeine
  • Moodiness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Persistent cough

Teens who are vaping drugs besides nicotine may also show signs of being high, such as being more sedated, being more hyper, having slurred speech, or not responding or acting correctly during conversations.

Those who suspect a teen may be vaping should be aware of what the devices used to vape look like. While many vaping devices may resemble cigarettes or clearly appear to be used for smoking, one of the most common vaping devices is designed to look like an ordinary USB drive. If you find a teen who appears to be putting a USB drive in their mouth, it may mean that they are vaping.

When It’s Time to Get Help

Teens who vape may be using nicotine, but could also be using other dangerous drugs. Marijuana, methamphetamines and cocaine can all be used in vape solutions, and teens who vape may be using these drugs. Because many vape solutions are not regulated and are purchased online, teens may not even be aware that they are vaping an illegal or dangerous drug. If your teen is vaping, you should attempt to find out exactly what they are vaping.

Even if your teen is just vaping nicotine, it can be the beginning of a nicotine addiction that could affect their health for the rest of their life, and they should be seen by a doctor to receive treatment for nicotine use and possible addiction. If your teen has been using other substances, it could be a more serious indicator that they may be starting to develop a drug addiction.

If your teen has been vaping drugs or you suspect they may have, professional help is available. Next Generation Village has a strong record of helping teens to overcome addiction and maintain a sober lifestyle. Reach out to one of our understanding team members to learn how your teen can start on their path to recovery today.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


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