E-cigarettes, or vapes, are battery-powered devices that typically deliver nicotine in the form of an aerosol that a user inhales and exhales. In Minneosta, a person must be 21 years old to buy e-cigarettes.
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical compound found in tobacco plants. Consuming it can change the way the brain works, causing intense cravings as a person’s brain demands more and more nicotine in order to feel good. Nicotine can quickly become a part of a person’s daily routine, intertwined with their habits and feelings.
About one in five high school students were vaping in 2020. Here are some reasons why:
- Peer Pressure
These are just some of the most common reasons we hear from teens. Regardless of why a person starts vaping, the high levels of nicotine can physically make it hard for someone to stop vaping once they’ve started. However, there are many non-judgmental resources available for someone who wants to quit.
Nicotine can change the way connections are formed in the brain. Using nicotine while the brain is developing can disrupt the formation of brain synapses (connections) that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. Nicotine also activates the part of the brain that releases dopamine, creating a pleasurable effect. However, these effects are only temporary. The brain becomes dependent on nicotine, requiring more and more to “feel good.”
Many people use e-cigarettes as a maladaptive (not very helpful) way to cope with stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Although e-cigarette use might provide feelings of relief or push off the symptoms of a mental health condition for a few hours, it doesn’t address the root cause and many teens may end up accidentally becoming addicted to nicotine in the process – which can make mental health conditions worse. Studies have even found nicotine can worsen anxiety symptoms and amplify feelings of depression. Organizations like myHealth offer more long term resources and skills to cope with stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.
Commercial tobacco and e-cigarette companies want to get young people hooked on nicotine. These companies know that once a person gets addicted to nicotine, their brain will continue to need more and more nicotine to satisfy its cravings, creating a customer for life. Studies have even found that teens start using e-cigarettes, or vaping, are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes or other forms of commercial tobacco.
At myHealth for Teens & Young Adults, the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is a bridge between myHealth and the community it serves. Through peer education and community out reach, YAB advocates for the needs of youth and provides a critical youth perspective to myHealth as an organization.
If you are thinking about quitting vaping, you are not alone. Quitting is not an easy process; a support system is an important tool for success.
- Find a friend, trusted adult, or counselor you can connect with
- Expect cravings. Work with your support system to create a plan for handling them
- If you feel like giving up, lean on your people. The path to quitting won’t be perfect and your support system is there to help keep you on track when things get hard
MY LIFE, MY QUIT (TM)
A free and confidential way to quit smoking or vaping. They provide non-judgmental support, one on one help to quit, and easy-to-follow tips from friendly coaches. Text 36072, check out their website to chat, or call 855-891-9989 for support.
THIS IS QUITTING
This is Quitting is a free and anonymous text messaging program from Truth Initiative designed to help young people quit vaping. To get started text DITCHJUUL to 88709.
MYHEALTH FOR TEENS & YOUNG ADULTS
myHealth is here to support you. Our staff are attuned to the unique physical, emotional, and social needs of young people and will work with you to help support you in your health goals. We offer counseling and medication services for those looking to stop using e-cigarettes. Call us at 952-474-3251 to set up and appointment or check out the appointment page to schedule online.
These materials are made possible through a Youth E-Cigarette Prevention and Cessation Initiative grant from the Minnesota Department of Health.