If your teenager starts to:
- smell like candy when there isn't candy around
- have unexplained nosebleeds
- drink a lot more water than usual
- carry a fancy futuristic pen that looks like something James Bond's Q came up with
… then you may be dealing with someone who vapes.
Vaping vs. smoking
E-cigarettes were first marketed as smoking cessation devices and have led some people — teens and adults — to mistakenly think vaping is harmless. While studies show vaping is less dangerous than smoking, it's not safe.
For example, a recent study led by Dr. Jessica Wang-Rodriguez of University of California at San Diego, concludes "our study strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes are not as safe as their marketing makes them appear to the public."
There is concern that vaping is a gateway because it gets kids using nicotine. According to one study, teens who use e-cigarettes are more like to become smokers, the opposite of the intended outcome. That's not all.
Vaping with marijuana
The complete picture on vaping, even when used as intended, is unclear. Parents need to be aware of a trend that takes the e-cigarette to a new level of danger. The nickname is 710 (OIL upside down). It is derived from marijuana, potent and can be used in vaporizing devices and vaping pens.
Bottom line: If a teenager is vaping, which has its own downfalls, the adults in his or her life need to make sure they know what is being used in the device. While vaping is not safe, vaping with illegal drugs is even more dangerous.
Parents also should be aware of what the American Lung Association calls "an emerging deadly trend" — a hookah, or waterpipe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes hookahs as waterpipes that are used to smoke specially made tobacco that comes in different flavors, such as apple, mint, cherry, chocolate, coconut, licorice, cappuccino and watermelon, and warns that although many users think it is less harmful, hookah smoking has many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking.
Hookahs are generally smoked in a group, with each person using the same mouthpiece as everyone in the group. Even teens who don't own hookahs might be exposed to the smoke.
Again, a hookah can be used to inhale the 710 hash oil.
Help is available
If you think your child is abusing a substance, help is available. Talking candidly and compassionately to teens is a good place to start. You can start a conversation by asking, "Have you been using drugs or alcohol?" Be prepared to listen, and avoid the impulse to overreact.
To know, though, you will need medical testing. The Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office (DACCO) in Hillsborough County and the Suncoast Region can help you determine if your child is using drugs or alcohol and set a course for treatment. It is one of Florida’s largest community-based providers of behavioral health services, providing services to more than 30,000 people every year since 1973.
Staying current with trends helps parents prevent drug problems. When someone in your family is abusing drugs, it affects the whole family. Getting help for one person makes a difference for everyone involved.