Just when teenagers finally got the message about the dangers of smoking, vaping and e-cigarette have exploded in popularity in our youth, giving them a new addiction. A study by the Centers for Disease Control found almost all e-cigarettes or vapes contain nicotine —the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products. The adolescent brain keeps developing until about age 25. Nicotine use in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. Nicotine addiction has also been linked to anxiety and depression. Plus the CDC warns that nicotine use in adolescents may also increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs. Unlike cigarette smoking, vaping does not leave an odor and vaping devices are easier to hide than cigarettes. Noticing vaping in children is difficult, but we have some tips on how to recognize vaping and how to talk to your kids about it.
Since nicotine addiction has been linked to depression and anxiety, a teen who vapes will mostly exhibit these mental problems. Sudden mood changes, not enjoying things that they used to, or seeming distant can all be signs of depression. Most importantly, you need to make sure you don’t assume these signs are because of anything, as they may just be having these emotions.
Vaping causes immediate damage to the lungs. If your child is not out of shape nor has any existing lung conditions, this is an easy thing to spot. Getting winded after climbing the stairs, carrying in groceries, or doing other non-intensive chores are easy ways to spot this. If this happens once, it could be a one off occurrence, but if this happens often enough for you to take note, definitely bring it up with your child.
Sudden weight loss can be a sign of many disorders, but one of them can be a nicotine addiction. Nicotine satiates hunger, so vaping everyday will make a teenager not want to eat while at school or while they’re with their friends. Talk to your child about why they are not eating, if they get defensive or have a weak excuse like, “I’m just not hungry” then there is most likely something else going on.
While it may seem obvious that finding a vape is a sign of vaping, it is hard to figure out exactly what a vape looks like. They come in all shapes and sizes. E-cigarettes like JUULs and Phixs are discreet in their packaging. They can easily be passed off as USB drives. Some even can charge by being plugged into a laptop. If your child suddenly has a USB without any mention, you should look into it a little more.
If you approach your teenager in a calm and understanding manner, they may open up to you and admit that they are vaping. If they do, you cannot get upset at them and punish them. Explaining to your children why vaping is harmful and how it can harm them for life will help to convince them to quit. Talk to your child’s friends’ parents as well and let them know that you found them vaping and to talk to their kids as well. If one kid still vapes, it is likely that they will reform their habit.