Did you discover your teen is vaping — regularly?
Teenage vaping frightens parents. Vaping has become a major concern for most parents today. If you’ve discovered that your teen is vaping, it’s only natural to feel a range of emotions.
As an adult we understand the dangers and risks involved with vaping. But remember to be patient and ready to listen. Your goal is to have a conversation with your teen calmly.
About 1 in 5 high school students vape, exposing them to nicotine, a highly addictive substance found in tobacco. Vaping is likely to keep young people hooked for years. Quitting vaping is just as hard as quitting smoking.
There are warning signs to watch for if you suspect your teen may be vaping.
These include health issues (anxiety, weight loss, sweet fragrances, mouth sores, abnormal coughing, etc), behavior changes (mood swings, defiance, agitation) , unusual objects around the house, and the use of vaping lingo with friends.
The popularity of teens vaping tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oil is one that is on the rise, which is more troubling for parents and dangerous for teenagers.
Vaping THC oil just once can significantly impact your lungs. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that first-time and infrequent users of marijuana were more likely to experience adverse reactions from vaping THC oil.
This study’s authors suggest that the negative impacts of this THC ingestion method are largely due to the enhanced delivery of the oil. This was evidenced by participants having more pronounced effects and experiencing significant impacts on their motor skills and cognitive abilities.
Marijuana concentrates, such as those used in vaping, also have incredibly high THC levels—up to four times as high as those found in top-shelf marijuana. This may also explain why their effects are more enhanced.
Ways to Help Your Teen Quit Vaping
Although we believe our teen is not listening, deep down they do hear what you are saying — and eventually it will sink in. Quitting vaping can be easier when you have a plan.
Here are steps you can take to get your teen ready to quit vaping.
1. Ask Questions
Your teen’s answers can help you find ways to be supportive.
- What made you want to start?
- What triggers your cravings?
- What’s been stressing you out?
- What can I do to make it easier for you to quit?
2. Discuss the Health Risks
Start by sharing the facts about vaping — how it does impact their health and well-being.
Vaping THC Is Not Safer Than Smoking It. Health experts warn that vaping marijuana may even damage the lungs more so than smoking or vaping nicotine. This doesn’t mean that vaping nicotine is safe, but that vaping THC oil is thought to create a greater amount of lung damage.
Vaping is dangerous, it exposes users to dangerous particles and chemicals, and it exposes users to nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can be a “gateway” to other addictive drugs. In addition, the CDC and other agencies are investigating cases of severe lung illness potentially associated with vaping.
We know many teens believe they are invincible at this age, so it’s important to uncover why they are vaping.
Many teens experience intense emotions and frequent ups and downs as a normal part of growing up. There are reasons why this may be happening—physical changes, trying to create a unique identity, becoming more independent from your parents, or taking on more responsibilities. We’ve seen a rise in depression, anxiety and stress among young people over the years – than generations prior.
Different things can make teens feel stressed out. Maybe it’s classes, activities, social situations, or not knowing your plans after high school or college. Maybe your job takes time away from school and sports. Or it’s pressure from parents, teachers, and coaches to do well. Vaping isn’t the answer. It can make things worse.
2. Talk About Behavioral Changes
The human brain does not fully develop until the age of 25. So, using harmful substances like nicotine or marijuana at an early age can make your teen more sensitive to their negative effects. They may have anxiety, irritability, and trouble remembering things. Their school performance or IQ and GPA could suffer. This could impact not only their college admissions, but also their job interviews.
If your teen is vaping, they may also be more impulsive and engage in reckless behavior. A recent McLean Hospital study found that recreational marijuana use impacted driving ability – even when smokers were sober. They had more accidents, drove above the speed limit, and sped through more red lights than non-users. Help your teen to understand the effect this has on their future.
The first few weeks of quitting vaping are usually the hardest. Take it one day at a time. Help them understand they may face some challenges along the way, but knowing what to expect and being prepared can help.
Prepare your teen for craving and withdrawals that come from quitting — remind them you are there to support them. Discuss how they (and your family) will fight cravings and deal with withdrawal symptoms. Knowing what to expect and having strategies for handling thoughts about vaping or uncomfortable feelings will help your teen succeed and stay with your quit in those tough moments.
3. Be patience and help remove the temptations
Remember withdrawal can cause irritability, so you’ll need to be as understanding as possible. Encourage your teen to get rid of all vaping devices and products. Talk to your teen about how they will manage cravings and temptation if they are around peers who vape.
Help them build a list of actions and activities they can use to distract themselves when cravings strike. Building a Vaping Quit Plan can help keep your teen on track. Knowing their reasons for why they want to quit vaping can help them stay motivated, especially in difficult moments.
4. Provide resources and extra help (if needed)
It’s not easy quitting smoking or vaping, no matter what age you are. Connect your teen with online resources to help them through this challenging time. In some situations you may need to seek outside help from a school counselor or a therapist. Let your teen know there isn’t any shame in getting this extra help — their health is a priority.
If your teen is vaping, the support of you and your family is crucial. If you have exhausted your local resources and your teen is escalating out-of-control, it might time to learn the benefits of residential treatment and how it can help your family. Contact us for more information.
Sources: UTSouthwestern, Verywell Mind, Zeptive