Can vaping be addictive? Parents, grandparents, and caregivers across the country have asked themselves this question, as vaping has become wildly popular among teenagers and young adults.
When we hear the word “addiction” we don’t usually associate it with vaping. Instead, we associated the word “addiction” with hard, deadly drugs like heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, meth, and benzos. But the truth of the matter is, out of all the addictive mind-altering substances in the world, the most widely abused is tobacco, which contains the addictive substance nicotine.
Vaping, which is done by heating liquid or producing an aerosol, is sort of like the modern version of smoking cigarettes. But, unlike the anti-cigarette ads of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, vaping is being marketed as being trendy, popular, and something that every young person should be doing. To push this narrative, vapes are designed to look like flash drives, pens, or other everyday items. They are produced in a variety of attractive colors that are, once again, geared towards the younger population.
It is no secret that tobacco manufacturers have targeted children, adolescents, and teenagers for decades (think Joe the Camel and the Marlboro Man). Today, however, there is a surge in e-vaping liquid manufacturers who are working a similar angle as big tobacco manufacturers used to — and it’s working.
Prevalence of Vaping in Teenagers
Teenagers are easily the most targeted and affected group when it comes to vaping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2019, approximately 27.5% of high schoolers and 10.5% of middle schoolers reported current e-cigarette (or vaping) use. That means that more than 4 million American high schoolers and over 1 million American middle schoolers are vaping.
When vaping first hit the mainstream, most people naively thought that it wasn’t dangerous and that it was really just a way to make it look like you are smoking without really smoking. But, people quickly found out that vaping was anything but safe, as their children, nieces, nephews, and grandkids started seeing the effects of vaping. In fact, in the summer of 2019, emergency room visits related to vaping increased rapidly. In these cases, though, nicotine or tobacco was not the main culprit, but vaping liquids containing THC (the psychoactive substance found in marijuana) were. Within these THC-containing liquids was the additive vitamin E acetate, which has proven to cause damage to the lungs when inhaled. Since then, reforms have been made by e-cigarette manufacturers, but the risks associated with vaping are still not gone. Arguably one of the greatest risks of vaping is the potential for addiction to develop.
Can Vaping Be Addictive?
It is a misconception that since vaping liquids and aerosols do not contain the same large amounts of nicotine or THC as that of cigarettes or straight marijuana, that they are not as dangerous or addictive. Unfortunately, this is false, as these substances are addictive regardless of amount consumed.
Nicotine can be found in 99% of all vaping products, meaning that regardless of the amount, there is still an addictive substance in these products. Currently, tobacco (which contains nicotine) use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, but 40 million adults still continue to smoke on a regular basis. Despite all of the warnings and campaigns to help people quit smoking, there are still millions of people who just can’t seem to stop. That is because they are hooked on the nicotine within the cigarette. Young individuals like teenagers and adolescents are consuming that very same substance, which, when consumed enough, can cause them to become addicted to vaping just as much as someone who is addicted to smoking cigarettes.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the substance found in the marijuana plant that produces mind-altering effects. It, like nicotine, is added to vaping liquids. Therefore, those who use THC-containing liquids are consuming an addictive substance. This can be difficult for some people to truly grasp, as there is a lot of desensitization regarding marijuana these days. More and more states are legalizing medicinal and personal use, as well as decriminalizing possession up to a certain amount. Plus, it has long been viewed that while marijuana can get you high, it is not a drug that you can get addicted to like you would heroin or crack. While the addictiveness of THC is not as strong as other street or prescription drugs, it is still addictive.
So while the appeal of vaping might be the shiny colors of a vape pen or a special flavor liquid, what is going on inside is not that appealing at all.
Dangers of Vaping
As mentioned before, there was an outbreak of lung injuries in the summer of 2019 in relation to vaping. This outbreak led to more than 2,800 cases and deaths as of February of 2020. Since then, vitamin E acetate has been removed from vaping products, drastically reducing the incidence of lung injuries. But, that still does not mean vaping is safe. Some of the dangers associated with vaping can include the following:
- Becoming “accidentally addicted” because some vaping liquids do not disclose the presence of nicotine in products
- Suffering brain damage that can be caused by nicotine (including damage to areas of the brain responsible for memory and impulse control)
- Developing lung-related complications
- Increasing the risk of severe respiratory illness
- Ingesting e-cigarette liquid via swallowing or through the eyes or skin can be poisonous and deadly
Continuing to vape not only builds a foundation for nicotine and THC abuse, but it also opens up the doors to future substance abuse problems.
Rehab in California
If you or someone you love can’t stop vaping and needs help, reach out to us right now. The possibility for addiction to develop as a result of vaping is real and it can be extremely dangerous. Asking for help is the most important thing you can do to ensure your healthy future.
Call us right now to learn more about how we can help.