Pre-Vapes: Alcohol and Cigarettes
After cigarettes became widespread in the late 1800s and before the knowledge of their health risks, they were glamorized by celebrities like Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe. More often than not, the beautiful men and women who held the cigarettes also held a cocktail in their hand. It’s still an image that goes hand in hand today, and studies have proved that people who drink alcohol are much more likely to smoke cigarettes, and people who smoke are much more likely to drink. Those who are dependent on alcohol are 3 times more likely to be smokers, and people who are dependent on tobacco are 4 times more likely to be dependent on alcohol. The connection is so prevalent that alcoholics are more likely to die from a tobacco-related illness (like lung and heart disease) than an alcohol-related problem. Alcohol’s relationship to nicotine has continued as vapes have become more popular.
The good news is that cigarette smoking is at the lowest level it’s ever been recorded for U.S. adults at 13.7%. Smoking bans inside bars and restaurants even resulted in a reduction of public alcohol consumption. With the decline of cigarettes has come the rise of e-cigarettes and vaporizers (vapes). Vapes work by an atomizer heating liquid (e-juice) inside the vape when the user inhales. After inhaling the vapor which often contains nicotine, the user exhales and is left with a buzz from the nicotine and a cloud of vapor that quickly disperses. Many teens and young adults choose to smoke e-cigarettes called Juuls, because the vapor cloud is small and nearly scentless, enabling them to hide it from teachers and parents.
Are Vapes and Alcohol Linked?
Multiple studies found that e-cigarette users have an increased risk of harmful alcohol use compared to people who don’t use e-cigarettes. Research has also suggested that people with problematic alcohol use are more likely to use e-cigs. Because vapes can be used indoors where cigarettes are often banned, smokers can drink and smoke without having to go outside or be separated from their group.
Teens and Vaping
E-cigarettes can lead to a nicotine addiction which can affect a teen’s developing brain. Some substances in the vapor have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, and accidental exposure to e-juice has caused acute nicotine poisoning.
In data gathered from the University of Michigan, survey results found that the number of students who vaped nicotine in the past month has doubled since 2017. The percentage of 10th graders vaping increased from 8% to 20%, and even 8th grade students increased from 4% to 9%.
Is Your Teen Vaping?
Because of the health dangers, nicotine addiction, and link to alcohol abuse it’s important to know if your child is using e-cigarettes. Some signs to look out for include:
- Unusual Devices (e-cigs can look like pens, USB drives, and plastic cigarettes)
- Sweet, brief smells
- Coughing, throat clearing, or mouth sores
- Shortness of Breath
Alcohol Addiction in Teenagers
Teens who vape socially may start consuming alcohol if their peers are doing it around them. Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug by teens in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over 4,300 teens die every year from excessive drinking.
Some signs your child is struggling with an alcoholic dependence are:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Poor physical hygiene
- Extreme mood swings
- Changing friend groups (likely to a new group that drinks alcohol)
- Deteriorating grades
- Dropping out of activities they used to enjoy
Experimenting with drugs and alcohol should not be considered a normal part of adolescence. Kids who start drinking at a younger age have a heightened risk for developing alcohol use disorders. If your teenager is suffering from an addiction, there are resources that can help them stay on the right track. Contact a treatment provider for information on the available treatment options for children.
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