Teen addictions: it’s not just drugs and alcohol we should worry about
When you think of addictions, your first thoughts may be of drugs and alcohol - and how these may be affecting your adolescents. What about smoking? Most young people surely know the dangers of smoking now, and avoid traditional tobacco products.
Californian teens are smoking less, vaping more
That is where vaping comes in as a concern. Kids who are smart enough to avoid cigarettes may be lured into vaping believing it to be less harmful than smoking, and attracted by its better taste.
According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high school students are smoking less and vaping more (1).
And what about all of the delicious-sounding fruit flavors available to them?
Palm Springs vaping lawsuit
Teen vaping has become so rife in California, that in Palm Springs, the Unified School District has recently filed a complaint against e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs, Inc (2).
JUUL is an e-cigarette shaped like a USB flash drive. Their devices are battery-powered and heat the nicotine-containing liquid to produce an aerosol that is inhaled.
Palm Springs Unified School District is suing the company for allegedly using false and deceptive statements that have led to what California Governor Gavin Newsom referred to as a "youth nicotine epidemic” (3).
The issue that Palm Springs Unified has is the time needed by their staff to monitor and regulate e-cigarettes in schools - which is causing a loss of teaching time amongst other disruption issues.
So it’s not just the health issues with vaping that parents should be concerned about, but the impact on their child’s education.
Teen vaping health risks
Nicotine, found in high levels in pods of “vape juice” is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development (4). Not only does this harm your child’s academic performance, but this is linked to poor impulse control, mood swings, and even mood disorders. So if your child’s behavior is a problem, e-cigarettes could be part of the cause.
As well as the potential risk of lung problems, e-cigarettes could also be priming your teen’s brain for tobacco addiction later on (5). This is a frightening prospect. So what can be done about the rise in vaping?
At the end of last year, a 12.5% vaping tax was approved by a Californian Governor, in a bid to reduce youth vaping (6) But will a price increase really be enough to deter teens from vaping?
If you’re not convinced that this will stop your teen, you can prepare yourself by watching for signs and talking to them about the risks.
Spotting the signs
It may be more difficult to spot if your teenager is smoking than using traditional tobacco products. There won’t be the same unpleasant smell clinging to their clothes or breath - and flash drive-sized vape devices are harder to spot than a packet of cigarettes.
However, if your kid has an unexplained cough that is persistent with no telltale signs of tobacco use, it may well be from vaping. So what can you do next? It’s time to talk to them.
Talking to your teens about vaping risks
Where to start? Well, the “Flavor Hooks Kids” campaign (7) in California is a good resource for parents. They recommend a two-way conversation will work better than a lecture. Make them aware of the risks - as well as the facts about what nicotine does to their developing brain.
Of course, this may not be enough to put them off vaping altogether, especially if it’s common among their peers. So what else can you do if you’re worried teen vaping is affecting your child’s health and behavior?
What if talking to my teen hasn’t worked?
You can always get your school involved in anti-vaping efforts if they are not already. You can’t keep an eye on your adolescent all day, so staff can help by tackling it on-site during school hours.
Sometimes, these suggestions won’t work on your teen - and there’s only so much a school can do. You may need intervention and support from a third party. That’s where we can help.
Ways we can help with vaping addictions
Vaping can be just as hard to curb as any other addiction. We can help your child form healthier habits, by using positive distractions like exercise and routine to kick the habit.
Your teen quitting vaping “cold turkey” from home may seem impossible, but the support we deliver can be centered in your home, in order for this to become a reality.
We can teach the young person living in your home, life skills and accountability, mentoring them to help them develop new healthier habits and mindsets. We also offer a relapse prevention program, which can be developed and tailored especially for your family.
Do you need help with your teen’s vaping?
Take a look at the range of teen addiction services we offer and get in touch with us to find out how we can support your family - as well as your teen. With our help - it’s time to get your family back on track.