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      It's Harder for Teens to Quit Vaping Due to More Severe Addiction

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      E-cigarettes are closely associated with tobacco cigarettes and for obvious reasons: Both are popular among teens, both contain highly addictive nicotine, and both can ruin health and potentially the brain development of adolescents. One big difference: It's harder to quit vaping than traditional cigarettes. Why?

      Higher Doses of Nicotine Makes it Harder to Stop Vaping

      Since the early 2000s, Big Tobacco has marketed the Big Lie that e-cigarettes are a safer, healthier alternative to cigarettes. They aren't, but that hasn't stopped millions of American teenagers from purchasing the product and contributing to a nearly $20 billion industry.

      Today, many of those same teens are desperately attempting to quit their health-harmful habit. According to a study published this year in JAMA Pediatrics, nearly half of all teenaged vapers have seriously considered or attempted to quit. But as they're quickly learning, it is extremely difficult.

      The biggest reason teens cannot quit vaping is that the e-cig juice used in e-cigarettes can deliver a higher dose of nicotine than that found in conventional cigarettes. Naturally, the higher the dose of nicotine, the more addicted the vaper becomes, and the more difficult it becomes to quit.

      Commercially introduced to the United States only 15 years ago, today there are an estimated 55 million e-cigarette vapers worldwide. Nationally, that’s about 1 in 20 Americans (16.5 million) who currently use vaping devices, including more than 2 million middle and high school students this year, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

      What lures these teens to e-cigarettes, according to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, the four leading reasons include:

      • 55.3%: Curiosity
      • 30.8%: Friend of family member used them
      • 22.4%: Variety of available flavors such as mint, candy, fruit, and chocolate (to name a very few)
      • 21.2%: Used to do tricks

      “Despite this growth in popularity, many current vapers admit they want to quit, particularly young (users),” says Dr. Laura Struik, lead researcher of a study conducted at the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus. “In fact, over 60% of youth – ages 15 to 19 – who vape reported trying to quit in the last year.”

      substance abuse ehr system informationThe study, published last month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is the first to use Reddit, a social media forum, to learn how students are breaking this habit and how they can be best supported.

      “We chose social media to gather our data because this is where individuals, especially young people, the largest users of e-cigarettes, are sharing their experiences, including those about health,” explains Dr. Struik.

      After analyzing 1,228 public posts from 318 users on a “quit vaping” Reddit forum, researchers separated the data into three categories: Reasons for quitting; barriers to quitting; and method of quitting.

      Reasons for quitting E-Cigs

      The No. 1 reason, according to researchers, is the negative effects of nicotine on health. This included complaints about having shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing and poor sleep – unusual symptoms for individuals still in their teen years.

      “This is very different from the No.1 reason that smokers want to quit smoking, which is future health concerns,” says Struik. “We need to pay attention to these early adverse health effects. I’m particularly concerned by the impact of vaping on young and healthy lungs. That e-cigarette users are experiencing such intense negative health effects from vaping relatively early indicates that something different is going on biologically compared to smoking.”

      A similar report released earlier this year by Truth Initiative – a nonprofit working toward a culture in which young people reject smoking, vaping, and nicotine – corroborates the findings by the British Columbia researchers. It identifies the top reasons for teens wanting to quit vaping as follows:

      • 50.9%: Health concerns
      • 21.7%: Cost
      • 16%: Desire to be nicotine-free
      • 10.1%: Social factors, including others' impressions of them

      Barriers to Quitting Vaping

      The barriers to quitting e-cigarettes are much the same as they are for those who smoke cigarettes: intense nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

      “This is not surprising given that the most popular e-cigarettes deliver very high concentrations of nicotine,” says Struik. “In addition, previous studies suggest that the developing brain, such as that seen in youth and young adults, is vulnerable to long-term nicotine addiction. This makes quitting harder for this population.”

      But there are ways to improve success rates for ending nicotine addiction. Here's how:

      Methods of Quitting Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

      This brings us back to our choices for quitting e-cigarettes, vape pens, etc. Which is better for addiction treatment, cold turkey or gradual tapering?

      The study reveals that more than 65% of surveyed students say they prefer gradual reduction over the more abrupt cease-and-desist approach. This measured approach first involves reducing the concentration of nicotine incrementally over a prescribed period of time. 

      The approach suggested by Oro House Recovery Centers, a California-based drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation facility, might look like this:

      • Week 1: Reduce the juice from 24 mg to 18 mg of nicotine concentrate for a week
      • Week 2: Reduce the juice to 6 mg of nicotine
      • Week 3: Continue vaping but with nicotine-free juice for another week

      This three-step process helps to reduce the cravings for nicotine, but there's still the habit of vaping to beat, and that requires an additional tapering sequence:

      • Week 4: Reduce the number of times you vape per day
      • Week 5: Vape only once or twice a day for a week
      • Week 6: Vape only once a day

      After Week 6, begin vaping every other day until you're able to discontinue vaping altogether. The British Columbia study offers additional advice to ease the transition to a vaping-free lifestyle:

      • Use nicotine-replacement therapies such as patches and gum to help prevent relapse
      • Exercise to stay busy and distract yourself from vaping, as well as to produce a dopamine release – the "feel-good" neurotransmitter in the brain

      Researchers also noted that vapers expressed a need for self-grace and positive self-concept before beginning the quitting process. This can be achieved, in part, through social media platforms that are often embraced by those in this age group.

      download the free behavioral health ehr selection guide

      “Health promotion efforts should encompass messaging that does not shame those who vape or are struggling to quit," says Struik. "Instead, we need to build each other up and support each other’s efforts in reducing exposure to health risks like vaping.”

      Of those students who pursued quitting, more than 65% said they preferred the tapered approach. And as Struik cautions, it's critical that cessation guidelines, including pharmacological and behavioral approaches, be specific to e-cigarette users.

      “Our research findings show that vaping and vapers are different than those who smoke tobacco. Therefore, the cessation approaches should also be unique.”



      Lost in The Mist: Bad News for Young Vapers

      As if the known risks of vaping weren't already distressing enough, along come two new studies from the University of Rochester Medical Center that link vaping to mental fog. Earlier studies had already made that connection with animals. This time it's with people.



      InSync EHR Helps Practices Specializing in Substance Use Disorder

      As a  leader in behavioral health EHR software, InSync Healthcare Solutions offers features that effectively equip practices in their treatment of patients with substance use disorder, including:

      • Substance abuse software that facilitates the planning and implementation of effective treatment plans for substance use disorder treatments
      • A full pharmacological history along with drug allergies via fully integrated e-prescription software
      • A fully integrated EMAR system to allow the safe and scheduled dispensing of medications for inpatient care
      Get a Relaxing Snapshot of The Capabilities of The InSync EHR for Behavioral Health Providers

      5-minute InSync Mental Health Software Snapshot Demo

      And with CCBHC-specific technology, we can streamline workflows, save time and minimize the chances of human error, all while scaling alongside your enterprise-level facility.

      For a closer look at how our interoperable and mobile-friendly software can increase efficiencies and streamline workflows in your practice, schedule a demo now with one of our experts. We're happy to answer questions and explain how we can customize our system to be what you need it to be. 


      JAMA Network: Intention to Quit Vaping Among United States Adolescents

      Healthline: Half of Teens Who Vape Would Like to Stop: Here's Why It's Difficult

      SingleCare: Vaping statistics 2021

      Truth initiative: Most young e-cigarette users say they want to quite vaping in 2021

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Tobacco Product Use and Associated FActors Among Middle and High School Students - United States, 2019

      Oro House Recovery Centers: How To Quit Vaping: 7 Tips

      U.S. Food & Drug Administration: 2021 Findings on Youth E-Cigarette Use

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: E-Cigarette Use Among Middle and High School Students - National Youth Tobacco Survey, United States, 2021

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