Teenagers who vape nicotine are 3.5 TIMES more likely to use marijuana too, study finds
- Millions of teenagers have at least tried using a Juul or other e-cigarette
- By senior year, more than 20 percent of US youth have tried marijuana
- Both drugs may disrupt brain development in young people
- Vaping may be a new ‘gateway,’ as Harvard Medical School researchers found teen vapers are 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana, too
Teenagers who vape are 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana, too, a new study finds.
Even as smoking cigarettes has fallen out of fashion, nicotine e-cigarettes have become trendy among the millions of American teenagers that use them.
But the devices can also be used to vaporize marijuana, and public health officials worry that using the devices for nicotine will encourage young people to try weed as well.
It’s a valid concern, according to the new Harvard Medical School study that linked teen vaping solidly to teen marijuana use, which studies suggest may hamper the development of young brains.
Teenagers who use e-cigarettes are 3.5 times more likely to try marijuana too – and studies suggest the combo could be bad for their brains’ development (file)
Following President Richard Nixon’s declaration of the War on Drugs in 1971, public health advocates and mothers railed against marijuana as a gateway drug to harder substances like cocaine and even heroin.
That cry has quieted – especially as marijuana legalization sweeps the US and more people find potential health benefits from the drug.
But there may be a new ‘gateway’ that teens use before marijuana: e-cigarettes.
And while marijuana may be safe for most adults to use, its psychoactive components have been linked to disrupted brain development in teenagers.
The brain keeps on maturing throughout adolescence and young adulthood.
Studies suggest that the system of brain receptors that respond to cannabis are involved in how various areas form connections needed for executive function and management of emotions.
So feeding those receptors marijuana while they’re supposed to be performing another vital task might be disruptive.
But that has never stopped teens from trying it.
WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT E-CIGARETTES
How they work:
E-cigarettes use a mixture of flavored liquids and nicotine to create a vapor.
This vapor is then inhaled by the user similarly to how one would smoke a regular cigarette.
Are these devices safe?
Since these devices don’t use traditional smoke, people are under the assumption that they are safe for you.
But the liquid in the e-cigarettes can contain harmful toxins and carcinogens including anti-freeze.
The nicotine in the e-cigarettes also had addictive components and can lead to other tobacco use. This can hinder brain development in teens.
Also, the devices can overheat and explode if defective.
The Food and Drug Administration does not certify e-cigarettes as a product to get over smoking regular cigarettes.
As of 2018, 10.5 percent of eighth graders had used marijuana in the past year.
But by their senior year, 35.9 percent had used it in the last year, and over 22 percent had used it at least once in the last month.
There are more ways to use marijuana than ever, too.
Now, in addition to smoking it in a joint, pipe or bong, teenagers can eat it in edibles and candies.
And they can vape it.
Products like the sleek, trendy Juul have made nicotine use ‘cool’ again among teenagers who widely dismiss cigarette smoking as gross.
Smoke shops and online stores also sell marijuana-infused versions of e-liquid that make it easier for teenagers to get away with using the drug.
If teenagers are already using e-cigarettes, they’re 3.5 times more likely to start using marijuana, either with their vapes or otherwise, according to a new analysis of prior studies from Harvard Medical.
The researchers warn that nicotine, too, has a psychoactive effect and, when used early in life, can impair children’s abilities to memorize information.
In the new study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, they caution that we don’t know the full health effects of either substance on youth, let alone what they might do in combination.
And, they point out, over a quarter of people that develop substance misuse disorders start using some form of drug – be it alcohol, marijuana or nicotine – before they’re 25, meaning today’s teenage vapers could easily become tomorrows addicts.