E-cigarettes, or vaping devices, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. From traditional cigarette shapes and cigars to everyday objects like pens and USB memory sticks, the e-cig has evolved significantly over the past decade.
Over that same time frame, existing evidence showing the safety of these cigarette alternatives also evolved — and not for the better.
- One recent study found that the two primary ingredients in e-cigarettes — propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin — are toxic to your cells, and that the more ingredients in an e-liquid, the greater the toxicity.
That’s why it’s imperative to understand what you’re ingesting when you decide to vape and how it can potentially impact your addiction and overall health.
That fact remains that the growing evidence of potential health risks and lung injuries related to e-cigarette use has led researchers to question whether e-cigarettes are really a safer smoking alternative and how, exactly, vaping can impact an individual’s existing substance use disorder.1
Vaping E-Cigarettes (E-Cigs): What You Need to Know
While smoking cigarettes has decreased over the past decade, e-cigarette use has increased at a rapid pace. Understanding the actual dangers of vaping and how it can directly impact physical health is essential information. Some concerning evidence regarding e-cigarettes include:
- In relation to current events, a recent study found people who smoke e-cigarettes are five times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than those who don’t use tobacco products.2
- As of February 18, 2020, a total of 2,807 people were hospitalized in the U.S. with lung injuries associated with their vaping usage, with 68 cases resulting in deaths.3
- A 2016 report found that 44% of young adults who regularly vape were never smokers before trying e-cigarettes.
- Nicotine in e-cigarettes can disrupt important brain development in teens and young adults.4
How Similar Is Vaping to Smoking Cigarettes?
E-cigarettes, like actual cigarettes, deliver highly addictive nicotine, which has been shown to harm the developing brains of teens and fetuses in women who vape while pregnant. While people may think vaping is a safer alternative, some types of e-cigarettes actually expose users to even more nicotine than traditional cigarettes. However, the biggest threat that vaping poses to public health is that vaping is re-normalizing smoking, which has declined for years.
While smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death, the increased nicotine levels in e-cigarettes — and relative ignorance regarding their actual dangers — is making them a growing threat to people of all ages.
Vaping and Substance Use & Abuse: Is There a Connection?
While the viable health concerns associated with vaping have been identified throughout this article, regularly smoking e-cigarettes has been associated with a higher rate of substance abuse as well. Recent studies have shown a definite connection between the use of e-cigarettes and the use of other addictive substances. like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and even prescription medications.5
Other research has shown that vaping works to prime your brain for drug addiction by activating the same reward signals. Additionally, while marijuana is often smoked through vape pens, many other drugs can be consumed through vaporizing as well. Substances like crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin can easily be mixed with water and heated up before being smoked.
For many people struggling with addiction, this knowledgement makes vaporizers an easy distribution method for their continued addiction. That’s why teens and adults across the U.S. are actually using vaporizers to inhale drugs, often with none of the visible drug paraphernalia or smell that would traditionally alert their friends or family to their drug use.6
What You Can Do If You’re Vaping and Also Contending with a Drug Addiction
It’s true that you may have begun using e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking or manage your addictive impulses. However, given the known dangers associated with nicotine in general, combined with the additional health risks of vaping, quitting this unhealthy habit before it inflicts serious damage or impacts your substance use disorder is important.
Although smoking e-cigarettes isn’t a direct indicator of relapse, these following signs may be indicative of a deeper concern during your recovery journey:
- Isolating yourself from sober supports
- Becoming irritable and reactive
- Becoming increasingly dishonesty and deception
- Shifting back into unhelpful social connections
- Feeling increasingly apathetic
- Falling out of healthy habits
- Having increased suicidal thoughts
If you find yourself worrying about your sobriety, it can help to reach out to a clinical professional to discuss your concerns as well as the options available to help you get your recovery back on track.
Life-Changing, Holistic Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
Do you vape? Do you worry you may be using or abusing other substances, too?
We understand how crucial it is for you to get clean and stay healthy. If you’re e ready to get help, or you’re seeking insights from addiction recovery experts, Ranch Creek Recovery can help.
We go beyond the normal 12-step program and focus on tailor-fitting each treatment program to address each client’s unique needs. It’s about individualization and holistic treatment at Ranch Creek, and you can discover a new beginning here.
Have questions? We’re here to help. Contact us today.
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1NIH News in Health. The Risks of Vaping. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2020/05/risks-vaping.
2Consumer Safety. JUUL Addiction Has Serious Health Risks. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.consumersafety.org/product-lawsuits/e-cigarette/addiction/.
3American Lung Association. E-cigarette or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI). Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/evali.
4PubMed. Nicotine control: E-cigarettes, smoking and addiction. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22365155/.
5Wiley Online Library. E-cigarette use of young adults motivations and associations with combustible cigarette alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajad.12530.
6Science Direct. E-cigarettes — An unintended illicit drug delivery system. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871618305325.