E-cigarette use, known as vaping, has been on the rise among teens nationwide. In 2018, more than 37% of United States 12th graders reported vaping once within the previous year — a sharp increase from 27.8% in 2017. In Colorado, 27% of high-schoolers say they currently vape.
Devices such as Juul are small, and their size makes it easy for people to use these products discreetly. High school students cannot be constantly monitored, and many of them continue using these products without being caught. There are currently many state-wide actions being taken to curb underage e-cigarette use, such as banning kid-friendly flavors. Most schools in the United States punish students who are caught with e-cigarettes, but the problem continues to grow.
In Hartford, Connecticut, Principal Raymond Manka sees vaping as an addiction problem in his Stamford High students.
“We’ve got to figure out how we can help these kids wean away from bad habits that might hurt their body or their mind or otherwise create behaviors that can create habits that will be harmful for the remainder of their lives,” Manka says.
Stamford used to discipline students who vaped, starting with in-school suspensions and increasing in severity. After seeing two students from another school vaping, Manka said, “It broke my heart.” He wants to help similar students to find a way to stop using nicotine and vaping devices. Now, instead of punishment, the school is trying to figure out how to offer smoking cessation programs for students who are caught using e-cigarettes.
The small size of e-cigarettes makes them hard to remove from school grounds entirely. Because of this challenge, many schools struggle to find a suitable solution — one that prevents use but also helps treat it. The nicotine in e-cigarettes affects the reward center in a developing teen’s brain, making them more at risk to use drugs in the future.
Stamford’s approach may be a step in the right direction toward helping young people stop vaping. Addiction often stems from an underlying mental health disorder, and it should not be met with punishment. By addressing these underlying needs in high school students who vape, they will be less likely to experience substance disorders later in life. Prevention is necessary, but people who use substances need to have readily available resources to help them find treatment.
If you or a loved one lives with addiction, The Recovery Village can help. Call to speak with a representative who can help you determine the best method of treatment and initiate the treatment process. You deserve a healthier future, call today.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Teens using vaping devices in record numbers.” December 17, 2018. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Colorado youth vaping nicotine at twice the national average.” July 24, 2018. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Eaton-Robb, Pat. “Discipline or treatment? Schools rethinking vaping response.” AP News, May 26, 2019. Accessed June 7, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Electronic Cigarettes.” June 2018. Accessed June 7, 2019.