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What You Need to Know About Vaping and Using Marijuana: Don’t Do It

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If you read no further in this post, read this: Vaping and using marijuana are dangerous for both teens and young adults.

The human brain does not stop developing until we are about 25 years old. Research shows that using marijuana and vaping can cause permanent damage to parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. Nicotine for example, changes the way the brain builds synapses —the connections created between brain cells—each time a memory is stored or a skill learned. Substantial evidence in research studies with animals exposed to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, shows problems with specific learning and memory tasks later in life as well as an altered reward system that increases the chances of using other drugs. Human studies have also shown that marijuana use may cause altered connectivity, cognitive impairment, lower scores on verbal memory, and a decline in IQ.

More Reasons Why Marijuana Use Is Dangerous

Marijuana can make mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, which are common among teens, worse. Adolescent marijuana use also increases the chances of using opioids and developing an addiction to them.

Using marijuana before the age of 18 makes a person four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults. Dependence, or having withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug, is a key marker of a marijuana use disorder. The disorder becomes an addiction when a person cannot stop using it despite adverse consequences.

The potency of marijuana is increasing. In 2018 the average THC content in confiscated marijuana samples was more than 15%, compared to 4% in the early 1990s. While the effects of increased amounts of THC are not yet fully known, negative health issues are a real possibility, especially for young people whose brains are still developing.

More Reasons Why Vaping Is a Bad Idea

99% of e-cigarettes sold in the United States contain nicotine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They may also contain THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana.

Nicotine is highly addictive. Once young people start using e-cigarettes, the chances that they will be unable to stop increase exponentially.

Smoking cigarettes makes the chances of getting lung cancer, and possibly dying from it, 15 to 30 times more likely. While there is not the same definitive research on vaping, it may work the same way.

Vaping can damage your lungs. Substances commonly found in vaping liquid include:

  • Vitamin E, which can irritate the lungs.
  • Diacetyl, which is known to damage small passageways in the lungs.
  • Formaldehyde, which can cause lung disease and contribute to heart disease.
  • Acrolein, which can also damage lungs.

How Do I Know If Vaping or Marijuana Use is an Addiction?

If you are worried about yourself or your child, these are some warning signs of substance use disorder:

  • Not being able to quit
  • Needing more and more of the substance
  • Craving vaping or marijuana
  • Vaping or using marijuana despite the problems it causes in school, at work, with your family
  • Choosing to vape or use marijuana instead of engaging in activities you love, like sports or spending time with friends
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit

For Parents and Loved Ones Who Are Concerned

What can you do if you are worried about your child or family member’s vaping or marijuana use?

Talk to them. Try not to lecture them. Instead, ask questions about vaping and marijuana to see what they know and if they are aware of the dangers. Help them understand the issues vaping and marijuana can cause—addiction, brain damage, and lung injury, among others. Don’t get angry if they tell you they are or have vaped or are using or have used marijuana. Be honest about why that worries you and offer to help them find ways to quit.

It’s a good idea to begin that conversation before your child starts using. Preventing use is a lot easier than stopping what may be an addiction.

Provide resources appropriate to their age about the possible dangers, including addiction, that marijuana and vaping can cause. Caron Treatment Centers offers alcohol, tobacco, and drug education and prevention programs and services through its Student Assistance Program.

If You or Your Child May Be Addicted, Encore’s Treatment Center in Virginia Can Help

At its treatment center in Virginia, Encore provides a range of services to help people ages 18 and older as well as their family members to deal with an addiction.

  • Our thorough assessment process determines if there is a need for treatment and what kind of treatment would be best.
  • Outpatient treatment is offered at several levels, depending on the patient’s needs. Our outpatient programs at our treatment center in Virginia include group therapy, individual therapy, experiential therapies, medication management, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
  • Highly skilled master’s level clinicians offer individual counseling. Because they have expertise in treating a range of issues, from substance use disorders and mood and anxiety disorders to trauma, suicidality, and grief and loss, they can target and treat both addiction and underlying issues.
  • Recovery coaching gives patients support and tools from experienced, knowledgeable coaches who can mentor patients as they begin their lives in recovery.
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