Teen and young adult e-cigarette users are increasingly vaping marijuana.
Marijuana and nicotine use is as common as it ever was and shows no sign of slowing down. The only difference is that marijuana products are now legal alongside nicotine products. Among the youth, this is especially true. One popular method of smoking nicotine and marijuana products is through vaping, and this is a growing problem among adolescents and young adults. Vapers are using these devices for both substances.
One study talked with 11,354 young adults aged 18 to 24 years old and 11,976 aged 12 to 17 to see if they had used an electronic cigarette to smoke a marijuana. The result of the study showed that among the oldest group 54.6 percent, had. For the younger group, age 12 to 14, 35 percent had, and among users, ages 15 to 17, it was 51.3 percent.
For those who do not know what a vape is, vaping is one of the more popular methods that has popped up when consuming tobacco and marijuana in the past few years. In simple terms, a vape is a type of device that heats a liquid. Once it heats, a vapor is created, and this is inhaled.
Common vaping devices include pens, hookahs, and e-cigarettes. They all have a similar way of working and can have both safety and health risks. For adolescent brains, this can be a particular problem because their brains continue to go until age 25. Nicotine in particular can stunt brain growth and impact impulse control, attention, and mood. It is suspected that marijuana has similar effects on the adolescent brain, but more research must be done on the subject in order to get a definitive answer.
With the increase of flavored tobacco and legalization of marijuana, it is no surprise that the number of teenagers and young adults vaping is increasing. With marijuana, legalization makes it so that these products are regulated, however, so teenagers or young adults are much more likely to purchase a marijuana product that is being properly controlled. Before, when marijuana products were not regulated, users had to turn to the streets and these unregulated products were far more dangerous.
Even with regulation, smoking such substances can have negative effects on a person’s health and well-being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that teenage use of marijuana can lead to: difficulty thinking and problem-solving; problems with memory and learning; reduced coordination; difficulty maintaining attention; and problems with school and social life. Chronic users have reported a decrease in academic success and poor grades overall.
The CDC also warns, “Marijuana use has been linked to a range of mental health problems, such as depression and social anxiety. People who use marijuana are more likely to develop temporary psychosis (not knowing what is real, hallucinations, and paranoia) and long-lasting mental disorders, including schizophrenia (a type of mental illness where people might see or hear things that aren’t there). The association between marijuana and schizophrenia is stronger in people who start using marijuana at an earlier age and use marijuana more frequently.”
The best way to circumnavigate negative health effects is to abstain from using altogether. Parents who are considered about their children’s use should discuss this with the family physician who can offer suggestions as far as approaching conversations around the topic.