ADHD and Vaping
What Is Vaping?
It is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapors heated from nicotine, flavored “e-juice”, marijuana or hash oil that are suspended in propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. These liquids or solids are contained in a sleek looking metal device called a ‘vape’, ‘vaporizer’ or often called ‘juuling’. The use of vaping has skyrocketed especially among teens. Approximately 2.1 million middle to high school students (illegal and under-aged) were users in 2017.
What Is The Connection?
ADHD teens are particularly susceptible because they have a neurochemical condition that results in impulsivity and inattentiveness. The three core deficits that contribute to the act of vaping is their inability to sustain attention to work, inability to focus and poor impulse control. Furthermore, they struggle socially with a constant worry about what they have said, they want to be liked, to fit in and belong. The truth is that vaping does not make you happier, nor improves your social status!
How To Feed The Need For Speed?
ADHD teens are already at risk for nicotine addiction, as they are low on naturally occurring dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Nicotine is a central nervous system stimulant. So, when it is inhaled, it will release dopamine. Most people are: ready, aim, fire. ADHD people are: ready, fire, aim. Let’s just do it and think about the repercussions later. It feels good. I like it. I want more. Some brand name pods contain 5% nicotine, which is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes. That does not necessarily mean that the other 95% of the pod, mod, juice, e-liquid or cap consists of water. It could be a mix of as much as 700 different carcinogenic compounds that are harmful for your health and developing brain.
What Can Go Wrong?
Many devices contain batteries… a risk for a leakage or an explosion (during storage or charging, inhalation or in your pocket). The actual device heats up to 400F to turn the liquid into vapour. Even though there is no tar, side-effects can include addiction, painful mouth sores, hoarse voice, permanent lung damage and chronic bronchitis. When teens with ADHD try to stop vaping, the same or worse symptoms that they try to manage with their general ADHD are exacerbated, i.e. anxiety, inattention or insomnia.
What Can Parents Do?
You can check. There are simple, easy to use dipstick urine tests available to accurately detect the amount of nicotine-cotinine. You can help them escape a bad situation.
- Create a word or phrase that only you know the meaning of and means: “PICK ME UP or HELP!”
- Have a plan for youth to leave an uncomfortable or unsafe situation IMMEDIATELY. No questions asked.
- Teens should always share their location with their parents.
- Talk openly about nicotine addiction and vaping. Consult an addiction counselor if needed.
When Saying “No” Is Not Enough… Then Script
- Not sure if you know, but I got into enough trouble the last time to last me forever.
- Keep a bottled drink or lemonade with you at parties. “I’m covered”. Students are less likely to offer other substances if they see you already have something in your hand.
- Blame your parents for finding out. They would be happy to be the scapegoats.
- Find something to do. Look busy. Get up and dance. Offer to DJ.
https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/youth- and-tobacco/youth-tobacco-use-results-national- youth-tobacco-survey
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