PART II: Marijuana Vaping on the Rise
Recently there has been a huge awakening to the various dangers of vaping and THC use with our young people. The news has been filled with stories of severe lung injuries and even death as a result of vaping including V.A.L.I. (Vaping Assisted Lung Injury). With the rise in popularity of vaping and the subsequent legalization of marijuana in several states, vaping devices are not just being used for nicotine anymore. They are also being used to vaporize THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's mind-altering effects. In place of e-liquids, cannabis-infused oils and waxes provide users a powerful high.
Vaping THC does not produce the signature smell that emerges when marijuana is burned and looks to the average outsider like any normal e-cigarette. For this reason, it is extremely popular among teens and adolescents.
What are the dangers associated with vaping THC?
One of the most recent “myths” about vaping marijuana is that many believe it is safer than actually smoking it. Recently there has been a lot of evidence showing that many of the chemicals infused in the oils and waxes could possibly cause serious damage to lungs when vaping. One report recently showed how Vitamin E (used to help flavors) can have a serious impact on those who inhale the vitamin. When ingested as a supplement Vitamin E is very safe but some preliminary reports have shown when ingested as a vapor and inhaled into the lungs, it can have very serious impact on lung function.
Aside from potential damage and irritation to the lungs and throat, THC levels today are much higher than those found in the marijuana of yesteryear. With the advent of high-tech marijuana agriculture, scientists have been able to create strains stronger than have ever been seen before. The impairment caused by these high levels of THC are much more likely to lead to injury and accidents. Additionally, the poor decisions we make while under the influence of this drug can have lasting effects on our social, emotional, educational and vocational lives down the road.
In addition to the very serious physical dangers, another real danger lies in addiction. While THC has not physically addictive in the same way nicotine is, there are more and more rehabilitation centers now seeing people admitted for treatment with a primary THC addiction. There has also been a spike in psychotic features related to ongoing THC addictions. Teens are already more susceptible to addiction than adults because their brains are still developing into their twenties. This vulnerability makes them many times more likely to habituate to using drugs and alcohol. Like alcohol, many responsible adults are able to enjoy moderate marijuana use in a safe setting. However, like with alcohol, problems arise when people abuse it; Some people drive a car under the influence, neglect their responsibilities, and attempt to use the drug to cope with the hard parts of life. The addictive personality who has problems with other substances will also have problems with THC.
If you believe your adolescent has a problem with vaping or vaping marijuana, it’s best to have an honest conversation with them. Ask them why they do it, and talk to them about the potential dangers without turning it into a judgmental lecture.
At Gooding Wellness, we believe that there are better ways to cope with life’s difficulties, and that there are better habits to adopt. The professionals at Gooding Wellness are well-equipped to deal with individuals seeking recovery from addiction and to develop healthy coping skills to build emotional resilience. We have the experience not only to help the individual struggling with addiction but to also support the family living with the addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact the Gooding Wellness Group today!
Submitted by Gordon Gooding, LCSW