Parents Beware: Your Kids Are Vaping. What to Look for and How to Help.

Is your teen showing signs of excessive thirst, experiencing frequent nosebleeds, or suddenly becoming sensitive to caffeine? If so, it might be time to have a conversation about vape usage.

Electronic cigarettes, commonly known as vaporizers, or vapes, have surged in popularity among middle and high school students nationwide. While the JUUL brand  was one of the first, there’s now a wide array of vaporizers available, each with its own set of risks. Vapes are particularly appealing to teens because they’re often flavored, and are odorless so they’re easy to use without parents or other authorities’ knowledge.

What are vaporizers?

Vapes come in various shapes and sizes, but they typically consist of a battery-powered device that heats a liquid solution, often containing nicotine and flavorings, to create an inhalable vapor. These devices can easily be mistaken for everyday items like USB drives, making them discreet and accessible to teenagers.

Why parents should be concerned:

Many vaporizers, including JUULs, contain high levels of nicotine, comparable to that of a pack of cigarettes. The concentrated nicotine in these devices poses a significant risk to teenagers, whose brains are still developing and are more susceptible to addiction. Moreover, long-term use of nicotine has been linked to detrimental effects on brain development, respiratory issues, and other health concerns.

Starting the conversation:

If you haven’t already discussed e-cigarette use with your teen, now is the time to do so. With vaporizers readily available and often misunderstood by teenagers, it’s crucial for parents to educate their children about the potential risks. Studies have shown that many teenagers who vape are unaware of the substances they’re inhaling, highlighting the importance of open communication.

It’s essential to note that not only legal substances like nicotine are used in vaporizers; illegal products such as marijuana can also find their way into these devices, further underscoring the need for awareness and conversation.

Here’s some tips for talking to your teen from the Addiction Education Society:

When talking to your teens about vaping, play it casual, [Dr.Laura Offutt] recommends. “It’s not really a judgmental way to ask the question,” she says. “It’s more just, ‘I’ve read this, and I’m curious what you’ve heard about it.’ Or, ‘Do you know any kids that are using e-cigarettes?’ or ‘What do your classmates think about e-cigarettes?’ It’s a nice way to open that conversation.”

Keep it open-ended, [Dr. Pia Fenimore, a pediatrician with Lancaster Pediatric Associates in Pennsylvania| agrees: “You don’t want to ask a yes-no question. Because teenagers will look for any chance to answer a question with a yes or no. Then you’re really nowhere.”  Continue reading here.