The marijuana and vaping industries are making it cheaper and easier for young people to use in secret. Sometimes even in plain sight.
USB’s, Inhalers, Cellphones, Smart Watches, Highlighters, Jackets, and Bracelets… no I am not just naming random house hold items that your teen may have. I am actually naming vaping devices disguised to look like those items. Is your mind blown?! Because mine was.
For today’s blog we will focus on teens vaping marijuana, how the marijuana industry makes it highly enticing to teens, how it’s easier for them to hide from their parents, and why high THC levels are especially harmful to their growing brains.
Hidden in plain sight
Question: Which of the items in the picture below are vaping devices?
ANSWER: All of them!
But WHY do they look like this? Why make vaping devices easy to use discretely and hide in plain sight. After all, it’s legal for adults. Think about it this way…maybe it’s because these devices are not meant for adults, but for underage teens. Let that sink in.
Marijuana vaping devices do not produce clouds of smoke that a person can see from afar and the minimal odor dissipates quickly instead of giving off a skunky marijuana smell that lingers. I have heard numerous accounts from schools and teens of marijuana being vaped with one of these sneaky devices in the middle of class and the teacher did not notice because there was hardly a sight or smell (The Partnership, 2018). These devices were created for one purpose only. To makes it easier for people who want to hide their use from others. Specifically, teens wanting to hide their use from their parents.
But What’s the big deal? Vaping is one of the newer trends that is popular with teens because they believe that it is a safe way to smoke. Even adults think this because they think they are “only” inhaling vapor, hence the name vaping. BUT what actually happens is that when the product (nicotine, marijuana or just flavoring) are heated up by the vaping device, it becomes an aerosol. When a person inhales these aerosols, they are inhaling small numerous toxic particles of tin, lead, nickel, arsenic, and many others, just like in cigarettes. These can cause respiratory difficulties (Edwards, 2019). In short, vaping is not safer than smoking, its just another way of smoking. (Toolkit, 2019)
Vaping anything is damaging to the respiratory system. But vaping marijuana adds on the danger of damaging the brain, especially one still developing and in a rapid state of change and growth, as in the teen years. And the higher the dose of THC used in the teen years, the worse the damage and lifetime negative impact. THC is the component in marijuana that produces the high or euphoric feeling. Currently, the marijuana concentrates used with vaping devices can have up to 98% THC vs. 8-20% for smoking. At these high percentages it has been proven to slow brain growth in teens, cause memory loss, reduce critical thinking and coordination, cause or magnify mental health issues, and make teens more susceptible to addiction (Bradberry, 2015). Couple that with the fact that the high could last as long as 24 hours and you can see it’s not something safe – for anyone, especially teens (The Partnership, 2018). So what’s the takeaway? Vaping is not safe. So you want to be sure your teen isn’t using – especially in your plain sight.
Overwhelmed? Here’s what you can do:
A good first step is trying to determine if your teen is using. If you do find a vaping device, you can look at the cartridge. If the contents are thick and slow moving in the cartridge, then that could possibly be THC concentrate.
But what if you don’t find anything?
Keep an eye out. If you don’t find anything – Great! But keep checking. Things can change quickly and get out of control quicker than you expect. As a teen, it’s a time for lots of change, but a telling sign that they could be using is if there is noticeable change of friends, and shifts in behavior and mood from how you’ve always known them to be (The Partnership, 2018). Parents, you can also look out for blood shot eyes, dry mouth, increased thirst and appetite in your teen – all of which can by symptoms of vaping marijuana.
So now what?
If you do suspect that your teen may be vaping marijuana, talk to your teen.
Have frequent, spontaneous conversations that are brief., lLike when you’re in the car or during a commercial. It will make it less stressful on you both.
Avoid direct questions about whether they are using. Instead, ask about what they’ve heard or seen other teens doing regarding vaping and how they feel about that.
Next, move on to whether they have personally been exposed or offered vaping, and eventually what they did in those cases.
Help to build comfort, security and rapport so your teen is comfortable discussing this subject with you.
Get educated together! Show them neither of you are in this alone and it’s not just them that is affected.
About now you could be rolling your eyes thinking your youth does not, and will not, listen. But do not fear! Research shows your teen wants to be able to talk to you. They want and need your input, advice, guidelines and support. Even if they mess up, they want to be able to go to you. Your opinion matters more than anyone else’s. In fact, research has proven that a parent influences a child’s action more than anyone (Public Health Seattle and King County, 2010). Your child is listening even if it seems like they are not.
Conclusion: Vaping is not safer than smoking, it’s just another way of smoking. In todays society, there are so many deceiving vaping devices that look like jackets, bracelets, smartwatches, USB’s and sadly the list can go on. But now that you know what to look out for you will be able to tell if your teen is using in plain sight. Continue to have those taboo conversations with your youth about vaping marijuana and communicate how it can harm them and their bright future. I encourage you and your teen to do your own research and empower yourself with the information and knowledge to make an informed decision.
Look for future articles where we will share more details and tips on how to talk to your youth about marijuana in a way that they will hear and be receptive to. For tips on how to find science based, non-biased sites to do your own research and how to talk to your teen check out our newsletter at https://conta.cc/3eDS03f. You can also look at our YouTube videos “What to Say When Someone Tries To Pressure You To Use Marijuana” and “How to Tell If My Child is Using Drugs” which you can access here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwVbtGOShq8w_4QS3K10duQ
https://drugfree.org/parent-blog/know-kid-vaping-marijuana/ June 6, 2018 by The Partnership. “How to Know If Your Kid Is Vaping Marijuana — and What to Do About It.” Where Families Find Answers on Substance Use | Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, drugfree.org/parent-blog/know-kid-vaping-marijuana/.
https://www.nbcnews.com/health/vaping/e-cigarettes-linked-lung-problems-first-long-term-study-vapingn1101641?fbclid=IwAR301evuyHyq39pSgxB3FtBuw9ikJdBFRVubg0sJkXxpeb8DeEbbwRVYtNE&ct=t%28UReport%3A+December+2_COPY_01%29 Edwards, Erika. “E-Cigarettes Linked to Lung Problems, First Long-Term Study on Vaping Finds.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 16 Dec. 2019, www.nbcnews.com/health/vaping/e-cigarettes-linked-lung-problems-first-long-term-study-vapingn1101641?fbclid=IwAR301evuyHyq39pSgxB3FtBuw9ikJdBFRVubg0sJkXxpeb8DeEbbwRVYtNE&ct=t%28UReport%3A%2BDecember%2B2_COPY_01%29.
https://med.stanford.edu/cannabispreventiontoolkit.html Toolkit, Cannabis Awareness andPrevention. “Cannabis Awareness & Prevention Toolkit.” Cannabis Awareness AndPrevention Toolkit, 2019, med.stanford.edu/cannabispreventiontoolkit.html.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2015/02/10/new-study-shows-smoking-pot-permanently-lowers-iq/#1fcff0692f5b Bradberry, Travis. “Study Shows Heavy Adolescent Pot Use Permanently Lowers IQ.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 11 Feb. 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2015/02/10/new-study-shows-smoking-pot-permanently-lowers-iq/#1fcff0692f5b.
https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/child-teen-health/child-care-health/~/media/depts/health/child-teen-health/child-care-health/documents/ChildCareBehaviorHandbook.ashx Child Care Behavior Handbook: Promoting Positive Behavior among Young Children in Child Care Settings and in Early Childhood Programs 2nd Edition. County of King by and for the Seattle-King County Dept. of Public Health, 2010.