Teen vape use may lead to use of other drugs, alcohol, limited study shows.
Noah Kreski, a data analyst for Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, is a lead author in a recent study comparing vape use to marijuana and alcohol abuse. This study looked at teens between the ages of 13 and 18 who were surveyed about their use of vapes and other substances such as alcohol and cannabis.
This limited study suggests that teens who vape are 20 times more likely to use cannabis than those who do not. It also indicated that those who had vaped in the last month were six times as likely to have also had multiple binge-drinking episodes over approximately the same amount of time.
The research team found there to be a correlation was even stronger when the teens smoked traditional cigarettes rather than vapes. Kreski says of the study, “The surprising thing is just how strong those links were.”
Study results were gathered from the 2017 and 2019 Monitor the Future survey, which was performed by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the conclusions draw indicate for any interventions to be successful they should not only address marijuana and alcohol use, but also the use of vaping.
The authors of the Columbia project focused on the past 30 days of nicotine use including not just vaping but cigarette smoking, a combination of vaping and smoking and not smoking at all. When compared to non-smokers it was found that:
- Those who smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days were 8 times more likely to use marijuana.
- Those who vaped in the last 30 days were 20 times more likely to use cannabis.
- Those who smoked both cigarettes and vapes were 40 times more likely to use marijuana.
The connection to binge drinking alcohol was found to be especially strong with those smoking traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes. It was assessed that they were 6 times as likely to binge at least once during the previous two weeks. It was also determined that cigarette smokers were 22 times more likely to have binged on alcohol at least 3 to 5 times during the past two weeks.
Kreski claims, “These patterns are so strong in terms of where there is some substance use, there’s very likely other substance use.”
It is important to note that the research does not establish a definitive link between vaping and problematic use of cannabis and alcohol. This is because there is no way to determine if vaping came before or after the use of marijuana and alcohol. With the possibility that the use of vaping is just an addition to the existing use of other substances it cannot be claimed conclusively that vaping or cigarette smoking leads to increased usage of other substances in teenagers. Perhaps one factor to consider, according to researchers, is whether teens are vaping on a consistent basis or whether they are using friends’ devices on occasion with the thought that the former may be a stronger link to problematic alcohol and drug use.