A study of Los Angeles students showed that vaping or using hookah as a teen led to a greater likelihood of using marijuana later in life–up to four times greater, in fact.
Both hookah and vaping have gained popularity in recent years with teens, partly because both are presented as safer alternatives to regular cigarette smoking, even though they carry many of the same risks and some even greater risks than traditional cigarettes.
Are Hookah and Vaping Safer for Teens Than Traditional Cigarettes?
Hookah is a form of smoking that inhales tobacco smoke that has passed through water, using a tube. Besides the same risks as other forms of smoking tobacco, hookah also creates a radioactive substance that smokers inhale with all the other carcinogenic and toxic compounds in the tobacco smoke. Hookah is also smoked for a longer period of time than a cigarette, with a typical session of hookah equaling smoking 10 to 20 cigarettes.
Vaping only contains nicotine, and not tobacco, but is still addictive and can negatively impact adolescent brain development. Studies have also found toxic compounds like formaldehyde and antifreeze ingredients in e-cigarettes, according to Penn State University.
Marijuana Use: Yet Another Risk of Alternative Smoking Methods
About 11 percent of high school teens have vaped, and 5-11 percent have used hookah, the study discovered. The increased incidence of marijuana use among teens who have used hookah or vaped is yet another risk of these so-called alternative smoking methods. While marijuana is legal for adults in Colorado and several other states for recreational use, there are still risks involved as well as the potential for dependence and misuse.
The reason for the link between increased marijuana use and alternative smoking methods like hookah and vaping is not definitively known, but researchers speculate that the environment of vaping parties and hookah lounges might be more conducive to smoking marijuana as well. Both hookah and vaping mechanisms can also be used for marijuana, so there is a natural crossover to it when using these methods to smoke just like smoking cigarettes can easily cross over to smoking marijuana in traditional ways.
Vaping in Colorado: What Do Higher Levels Mean?
Colorado was found to have the highest rate of teen vaping of the 37 states studied, about twice the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It was not clear why vaping is so popular in the state, but the fact that marijuana is legal to use for people over 21 will likely only encourage its use even more for teens who vape.
Colorado has a rate of current month (13 percent) and past-month (17 percent) adult use of marijuana significantly higher than the national average of 8 percent. Since most of this use is legal, however, the drug is becoming more like alcohol in that only crimes committed because of its use or problems with using too much marijuana are considered problems that need treatment and help.
If you or any of your loved ones struggle with misusing marijuana or other drugs, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers addiction treatment resources in Colorado that can help you recover. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options tailored to your needs.