Vape pens or e-cigarettes are supposed to be a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes; however, a disturbing trend is taking off. Instead of using vape pens to quell cigarette use, teens are now using them to abuse synthetic drugs.
Synthetic drugs such as K2, Spice, and Flakka are being abused more often by high schoolers and some middle schoolers are following in their foot steps. The number of students who smoke e-cigarettes has swelled from 660,000 students to 2 million students.
In one year from 2013 to 2014, high schoolers using e-cigarettes skyrocketed from 4.5 percent to about 13.4 percent. There is also cause for concern among younger teenagers, since an estimated 3.9 percent of middle schoolers tripled their use from 1.1 percent in 2013.
So why is this trend skyrocketing?
Ease of Access
With the increased popularity of e-cigarettes, vape stores have been steadily popping up all over the country. The ease of concealing the substances used in vape pens makes it easy for anyone to hide the fact that they are using an illegal substance.
What’s in a Vape?
Vape pens or e-cigarettes are powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, which includes a cartridge. When a person inhales or takes a drag, an atomizer heats the inner coil, which heats the liquid and vaporizes the liquid nicotine in the cartridges. A cloud vapor is then released. The cartridges are removable and the liquid can be replaced with scented oil or a fruit-flavored, nicotine free e-liquid.
Synthetic drugs are water-soluble, which means they can be easily be converted into a liquid. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, many teenagers are replacing the liquid nicotine with everything from hash oil, cannabis leaves, K2, Spice, the trending synthetic, Flakka, and wax with THC (the same psychoactive chemical in marijuana).
What’s worrisome is that synthetics don’t have a scent or the scent can be masked by the fruit-flavored scents from oils. Teens can smoke it in public right under their parents’ or teacher’s noses and they wouldn’t have a clue that they are abusing drugs. Also, these synthetic drugs can’t be detected until the vape pen is sent to a forensic laboratory to get tested.
What’s Being Done?
Right now, there are no federal regulations or restrictions against children under the age of 18 using e-cigarettes. Yet, most states have passed laws to ban sales directly to minors. Of course, this does not stop them from asking an older friend, family member or an unaware parent from buying them who may think vaping is harmless.
Although there aren’t any federal restrictions on teens vaping, parents and caregivers can monitor or limit their teen’s use or simply stop buying them. Of course, there is no way to monitor your teen 24/7, but being up front with them about their use of vaping, sharing vapes with friends, and communicating with them openly about drugs might save their life.
If you suspect your teen is abusing synthetic drugs or is abusing other drugs or alcohol, find help today. Call us today at (844)319-5239 or chat now. Our admissions counselors are glad to answer any questions you may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.