Vaping and Drugs: What You Need to KnowFrank Montalvo
You look around you and discover that there are a lot of people who vape today. TikTok and YouTube and vaping drug use have popularized this culture although they claim that they’ve cracked down on these types of videos. Due to the popularity of vaping it’s important to understand more about it and how illicit drug users are also using it to their advantage.
What is Vaping?
Electronic cigarettes (a.k.a., e-cigarettes, e-cigs) have grown in popularity since the introduction of vape pens. These pens work by quickly heating the liquid inside of them to produce the aerosol you inhale. While these pens aren’t to be marketed to teens, the fact that they use flavored vape liquids and youth-friendly ads mean that many teens find the advertising attractive.
Statistics show that 20% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 use these products. When you look at vaping demographics beyond teens, you’ll see that only 16% of Americans between the ages of 30 and 64 use them and the number decreases even further from there.
20% of Americans ages 18 to 29 use vape products, compared with 16% of those ages 30 to
Can You Vape Drugs?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse teens start vaping because they want to “try it out.” A small percentage of these teens even admitted that they’d vaped other types of drugs besides nicotine. Many parents admit that they’re shocked to hear this because they didn’t think that illicit drugs could be vaped.
Vaping drugs is as easy as adding them to water and then vaporizing them inside of a vaping device. Water-soluble drugs and vaping are quite common as are synthetic drugs and vaping. Some of the easiest drugs to vape are LSD, GHB, and ketamine. Most vaping devices won’t heat up enough to allow for the vaping of crack, tar heroin, and meth. The vaping device ruins these drugs because the wicks, filters, or other pieces of the device clog up quickly.
Is Vaping a Gateway Drug?
Gateway drugs are defined as being habit-forming. They cause users to develop other dangerous habits. For instance, many teens start by experimenting with marijuana before they start using harder drugs like cocaine or heroin.
Vaping devices are gateway drugs. Many parents allow their teens to vape because they think it’s harmless. States have cracked down a lot when it comes to allowing teens to buy vaping products, but teens are still finding loopholes and ordering online vape drug cartridges. What parents don’t realize is the addictive potential of nicotine nor do they realize that this can lead to vaping more than just nicotine.
What are the Most Commonly Vaped Drugs?
The two most commonly vaped drugs are nicotine and THC (marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient). Both drugs impact your brain and lungs. They also put you at risk of developing other types of drug use. The main one is marijuana which is something most high school students have either tried or know someone who’s tried by the time they graduate. Unfortunately, vaping marijuana places you at an even higher risk of having lung issues.
The Risks of Vaping Meth and Vaping Opiates
Meth is one of the main types of illicit drugs that people abuse with vaping. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot known about this. What is known is that vaping isn’t completely safe and when you mix it with meth it becomes even more dangerous. Depending on the form of opiate being vaped, this can be incredibly dangerous as well, given increasing adulteration with fentanyl. Vaping addictive drugs increase onset time and can make a withdrawal that much more difficult for the user as well.
Throughout the years’ many people have reported severe lung injuries due to vaping – some have even died. Now you aren’t only messing with these dangers, but you’re also dealing with the risks of meth or opiates as well. These include damage to your liver, kidneys, and heart as well as a higher heart rate and blood pressure and the likelihood of developing anxiety. Of course, meth is also deadly on its own accord, with rising purity driving a steep climb in meth overdoses.
It is worth mentioning again the risk of vaping anything that can contain fentanyl, and that even the smallest miscalculation or unknown amount can lead to overdose and death. If you have been experimenting with this incredibly dangerous drug, or are already addicted, please contact Icarus now or otherwise search for a ‘fentanyl rehab near me.’
Vaping Drugs vs Other Forms of Drug Use
Vaping use is also associated with the use of various substances that people with a substance abuse disorder (SUD) frequently abuse. One study looked at 700 participants from various ethnicities to discover that there’s a link between vaping and SUD. These people were especially drawn to alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, hallucinogens, inhalants, amphetamines, cocaine, and opioids.
Many of these participants also admitted that they were drawn to vaping because of its taste. This may be the reason why vaping frequently serves as a gateway to alcohol and marijuana. Not only do these substances have a distinctive taste but they serve as gateway drugs to other substances too.
Vaping as a Risk Factor for Drug Use
Most people don’t develop a substance use disorder through experimentation with hard drugs. It usually starts with things like vaping which studies have shown increases your risk of becoming addicted to illicit drugs. This is because vaping delivers pure nicotine into your bloodstream.
Nicotine serves as a gateway to marijuana and cocaine use. So, while you may think that vaping is harmless and that it’s mostly used by long-term smokers who can’t quit, the truth is that it’s mostly popular among teens and young adults which is why it’s so concerning. This is also why you see so many anti-vaping campaigns popping up today. Health officials are concerned not only with the health risks of vaping but also with how it frequently progresses into illicit drug use and addiction.
What are the Health Risks of Vaping?
Vaping is equally as dangerous for teens as it is for adults. However, since teens are still growing and developing, vaping can take a much higher toll on them. Anyone who vapes may suffer from any of the following health risks:
- Vaping for too long may result in cancer.
- Lung disease may be caused by some of the additives that are found in the vaping aerosol.
- When vaping products containing ‘Vitamin E acetate’ they can result in EVALI which is a severe lung issue. While Vitamin E acetate is safe as a vitamin or a cream, when inhaled it interferes with normal lung functioning.
- Studies have shown that vaping has the same effect as cigarettes when it comes to developing periodontal issues. This includes stained teeth, bad breath, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Hiding Drug use Through Vaping
One of the main reasons why those with a SUD find vaping preferable is that it’s difficult for parents, law enforcement professionals, and medical personnel to know that they’re vaping illicit drugs right in front of them. It’s important to take a closer look at each of these categories to truly understand why it’s so easy to hide drug use through vaping.
Many parents think that vaping isn’t as bad as smoking. They don’t understand how these serve as a gateway to other illicit drug abuse. It doesn’t help that YouTube and TikTok have only recently started cracking down on those who show vaping in their videos. Nevertheless, in the past, it was easy to find hashtags promoting vaping.
Law Enforcement Professionals
When it comes to law enforcement professionals, they have a challenging time proving that someone is vaping illicit drugs. Therefore, someone can vape an illicit drug right in front of an officer since the vapes either don’t have a scent or the person has been able to change the scent and thus hide the drugs.
This is coupled with the fact that vapes aren’t the traditional drug paraphernalia that officers search for, it’s difficult for them to establish probable cause. For this reason, they also can’t confiscate the vape to see if it was used for narcotics which is why an increasing number of them are now showing up in drug raids and busts.
Throughout the world, emergency rooms have witnessed an increase in synthetic drug overdoses. Some of this is due to the increasing popularity of vaping. Unfortunately, these devices make the drugs’ chemicals more potent which means they’re more dangerous, even fatal.
What are the Warning Signs of Vape Use?
There are many different types and styles of vapes available today. Familiarizing yourself with them will help you know what to look for. Without this knowledge, it’s very easy for someone to hide the different parts and pieces (e.g., cartridge, vaporizer, lithium battery) from you.
Unfortunately, the physical warning signs aren’t the only thing you need to look for. It’s also important for you to familiarize yourself with the physiological symptoms of vaping, which include:
- Chronic bronchitis or a persistent cough
- Dry mouth
- Slow-healing wounds
- Unusual, erratic behavior
Seeking Treatment for Vaping Drugs
Regardless of your reason for wanting to stop vaping, treatment is available. However, you must have the time to dedicate to getting healthy. This is a difficult process, so you’ll want to make sure you aren’t under a lot of stress while undergoing treatment.
Although inpatient treatment is available (and highly recommended if you’re vaping illicit drugs), there are also ways in which you can treat on your own. These include:
- Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Using this approach (e.g., nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, sprays, inhalers) to quitting isn’t cheating. If these things don’t work for you, your doctor can also recommend some prescription medications (e.g., Bupropion, Verenicline) if NRT doesn’t work.
- Seek out a therapist, especially if you have underlying issues that have led to you vaping. They can provide you with the support you need so you’re successful at quitting. Additionally, they can help you develop coping skills, explore your behaviors, and learn to manage your emotions.
Find Long Term Recovery from Substance Abuse at Icarus
Quitting vaping isn’t easy, but it is possible. Relapsing is part of the journey. Instead of being overly hard on yourself when this happens, remind yourself of how long you’ve gone without vaping then commit to quitting again while you’re still motivated to do so.
When you’ve successfully quit vaping, you’ll look back and see that the challenge of quitting was worth it. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that your journey is over. Long-term recovery also comes with its own set of obstacles. To embrace it you must remain vigilant and continue your path of personal growth.
For those seeking recovery from drugs and alcohol, Icarus Behavioral Health represents a top choice in the New Mexico area and beyond. When you (or a loved one) are ready to begin the path to healing, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our compassionate Admissions team!