Why is The Council Addressing Vaping?

This post is a contribution by Mel Taylor, President and CEO of The Council on Recovery.

If you follow The Council’s work, you’ve probably seen us discuss vaping quite a bit lately. But aside from the alarming news headlines, you may be wondering, “Why does The Council care about vaping?” Vaping is legal in Texas, after all, for people over the age of 21. And advocates of e-cigarettes argue that in comparison to traditional cigarettes, vaping is the better option. But as alcohol has proven, when used to excess, many things can be harmful even if they are legal. Vaping is no different. The Council believes unequivocally that vaping is dangerous and deserves our community’s attention.

Unfortunately, a lack of reliable information on the matter combined with sensational nightly news stories can tempt us into dismissing this phenomenon as just another overhyped story. Here at The Council, our goal is not to scare you – rather, we want to empower you with information you can trust to make your own choice.

So, why does The Council care about vaping?

The nicotine and other chemicals in vape liquid produce a pleasure response that changes the brain and can lead to addiction.

Nicotine produces a dopamine response in the brain, which then primes the brain’s sensitivity to rewarding stimuli. Anytime a substance alters the way the brain functions, there is potential for abuse and addiction. This is particularly true for young people whose brains are not yet fully developed, and are highly susceptible to changes in the way their brains respond to pleasure. Research consistently demonstrates that adolescents who vape are 3 times more likely to subsequently smoke traditional cigarettes.

But vaping isn’t safe for adults, either.

Many adults have seen first-hand the destruction wreaked by a lifetime of smoking cigarettes, so vaping may seem safe in comparison. Indeed, the e-cigarette industry originally marketed their products as a quit-aid, which has helped to perpetuate this myth. Vaping does not burn tobacco – the source of carcinogenic tar in traditional cigarette smoke – however, it does expose the respiratory system to nicotine and a cocktail of other harmful chemicals, and there is mounting evidence that it causes similar long-term lung damage as traditional cigarettes. What’s more, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation device. So, what does it all mean?

The long-term impact of vaping remains to be fully seen, but we know enough to say vaping is an urgent problem and immediate action is needed. As this problem develops, our learning will continue to grow. Just last week the Centers for Disease Control announced a breakthrough finding, naming vitamin E acetate as the potential culprit behind recent vaping related lung injuries and deaths, and helping to advance our understanding of this challenge. For now, The Council is busy doing what we have done for the last 75 years: supporting our community. The Council has weathered many such epidemics in our lifetime – from crack cocaine, to methamphetamine, to opioids, and now vaping. As ever, we remain committed to serving families who are impacted by addiction with information they can trust and best-in-class treatment.

Click here for more information on how The Council is tackling the vaping epidemic, and save the date for our Vaping Summit on February 21, 2020.

The Council on Recovery Responds to Rising Trend of Adolescent Vaping with Specialized Services for Teens and Parents

In response to the dramatic rise in adolescent vaping, The Council on Recovery is excited to announce the launch of specialized services specifically designed to deliver education, early intervention, and clinical treatment for adolescents experimenting with or abusing electronic cigarettes.

Lori Fiester, LCSW, MAC, CIP, CDWF, Clinical Director, says “With a new school year just around the corner, we have seen a marked increase in the number of concerned parents and educators whose teenagers are experimenting with or abusing electronic cigarettes. Many parents don’t know where to turn for information they can trust or how to get their children help.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s most recent Monitoring the Future survey, the percentage of 10th and 12th graders who reported vaping nicotine during the past 30 days nearly doubled in the past year. This alarming rise is the largest single-year increase of any substance in the history of the survey and translates to approximately 1.5 million additional adolescents vaping.

“Vaping is drawing on Big Tobacco’s playbook to market electronic cigarettes as safe and appealing to adolescents,” says The Council’s President & CEO, Mel Taylor. “When we see stories that the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker is considering opening its first shops in Houston or that Texas teens are being diagnosed with lung disease as a result of vaping, we are very concerned. At some point, every teen will make a choice whether or not to use. We simply want young people to have all the information they need to make a healthy choice. They deserve that.”

In spite of the explosion of vaping among teens, Houston had no dedicated resources to intervene on vaping until now. This fall, The Council will enhance our existing service array for adolescents with the addition of specialized services for vaping. Services will include psychoeducation, comprehensive assessment, intervention, and treatment for teens and their families impacted by vaping. Parent coaching and support, as well as professional consultation will bring needed knowledge and skills to parents and teachers to help them recognize and respond to risky behaviors. To learn more or access services, contact The Council’s intake line at 713-914-0556.

E-cig Use Associated with Cardiovascular Disease & Other Medical Conditions

Ever since E-Cigarettes (E-cigs) were first introduced in 2007, their use (also known as “vaping”) has been advertised as a safer alternative to smoking. However, new research by the University of Kansas School of Medicine shows that E-cig use, like smoking, delivers ultra-small aerosol particles which may be associated with cardiovascular disease and other medical problems.

The Study

The study, based on a review from the National Health Interview Surveys, analyzed health outcomes for E-cig users vs. non-E-cig users and smokers vs. non-smokers for a variety of medical conditions. These included myocardial infarction, hypertension, diabetes, depression/anxiety/emotional problems, circulatory problems, and stroke.

The Results

Though E-cig users had a lower mean age than non-E-Cig-users (33 vs. 40), E-cig users still had higher odds of having myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke. Depression/anxiety/emotional problems and circulatory problems also appeared higher in the study. E-cig users had lower odds of having diabetes and there was no significant difference between the two groups on the odds of hypertension.

The Conclusion

As one of the more recent studies on the health effects of E-cig use, this research supports the need greater public awareness about the higher odds of myocardial infarction, stroke, depression/anxiety/emotional problems, and circulatory problems facing those who vape. Both the study’s author and the American College of Cardiology recommend additional research to better establish causation linkage between E-cig use and these serious medical problems.

With a 14-fold increase in sales of E-cigs over the past ten years, the use of and addiction to vaping is rapidly becoming a major public health concern. Read the U.S. Surgeon General’s report about E-cigarette use here.

When combined with the misuse of alcohol or drugs, the consequences of vaping can turn deadly. If you or someone you know needs help, call The Council on Recovery at 713-942-4100 or contact us on-line.

New Study Finds Distressing Increase in E-cigarette Use by Middle and High School Youth

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), battery-powered devices that provide nicotine and other additives to the user in the form of an aerosol, have become the most popular form of tobacco use among middle and high school youth. The recent National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2011-2018 found a distressing increase in the use of e-cigarettes, also known as “vaping“, that far surpassed the rate of use of conventional cigarettes during survey period.

What’s more, concurrent studies by both the Center for Tobacco Products at the Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control point to a rapidly escalating problem. High school students currently using e-cigarettes increased from 1.5% in 2011 to 20.8% 2018. During 2017–2018 alone, e-cigarette use increased by 78% (from 11.7% to 20.8%).

At the same time, among middle school students, e-cigarette use increased from 0.6% in 2011 to 4.9% in 2018. During 2017–2018, current e-cigarette use increased by 48% (from 3.3% to 4.9%).

Percentage of middle and high school students who currently use e-cigarettes and any tobacco product

The studies also showed that, while current use of any tobacco product among high school students grew from 24.2% in 2011 to 27.1% in 2018, the use of e-cigarettes continued to increase at rates not seen in previous surveys.

This sharp rise in e-cigarette use among U.S. middle and high school students during 2017–2018 is likely because of the recent popularity of e-cigarettes shaped like a USB flash drive, such as JUUL. These products can be used discreetly, have a high nicotine content, and come in flavors that appeal to youth.

Although e-cigarettes can be of potential benefit to adult smokers as a complete substitute for smoking tobacco, adolescent use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is considered unsafe. The Surgeon General has concluded that “e-cigarette use among youths and young adults is of public health concern; exposure to nicotine during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain”.

The Council on Recovery provides a wide range prevention and education programs aimed reducing tobacco use, especially among adolescents and young adults. These programs are provided at area schools, churches, community centers, employers, and health fairs. For more information about The Council’s Prevention & Education Programs , please call 713-942-4100, email education@councilonrecovery.org  or contact us online.

Vaping: What You Should Know….Before It’s Too Late

From the DEA’s Just Think Twice website…

Do you know what vaping is? Have you or your friends ever tried it?

According to a new study, vaping (the use of electronic cigarettes) is pretty popular among teens. But it’s probably more dangerous than you think.

Here are a few quick questions and answers about vaping:

What Exactly is Vaping?
The use of electronic cigarettes to inhale vapors from nicotine, marijuana (THC oil) or general flavorings is referred to as vaping.

There are hundreds of different brands and a few different styles of e-cigs. But in general, they are all battery-operated devices that have a cartridge that holds a liquid solution.

When a person puffs, the e-cig vaporizes the liquid and the user inhales the vapor.

Is Vaping Marijuana Oil More Dangerous Than Smoking It?
Yes, more than likely. This is because users tend to vape a higher concentration of THC (the chemical behind marijuana’s high) than they would smoke. This could also make it more likely for someone to get addicted.

What Are The Health Risks of Marijuana Oil?
Studies have found that regular marijuana use during the teen years disrupts brain development and can also lead to problems with attention span, behavior and impulse control in adulthood.

The Council on Recovery’s Adolescent Services department provides prevention, education, and counseling for teens exposed to and engaged in high-risk behaviors, such as vaping. Our Mindful Choices program includes a 12-week course to help adolescents deal with high-risk behaviors. We also offer concurrent parent education classes, parent coaching program, and individual and family therapy. For more information, call The Council at 713-914-0556.