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Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 10/25/2021
Can You Vape Drugs?
Many of today’s youth think they have found a way to do drugs without any consequences. Vaping has grown in popularity as a way to ingest chemicals. The argument is that vaping drugs makes them less dangerous. But is vaping better than smoking?
This article will look at the truth about vaping and why the perceived benefits don’t outweigh the risks. If you are vaping drugs, you are in just as much danger as if you were doing them in any other fashion.
If you or a loved one are addicted to vaping any drug, contact us today at (888) 906-0952. There are people who can help you break the habit and give you your life back.
- A Stealthy Addiction
- How Vaping Works
- What Substances Can Be Vaped?
- Vaping Vs. Smoking
- Dangers of Addiction
- Does Vaping Have a Gateway Effect?
- What to Do if You Suspect Someone You Love is Vaping Drugs
A Stealthy Addiction
The New Way to Smoke
Cigarette smoking among teens is on the decline in the U.S. While that may sound like good news, the fact is that many teens are smoking differently. Vaping nicotine has become more popular than ever.
What’s the difference between vaping and smoking? Vaping is the inhaling of a vapor created by a battery-powered device, usually called an e-cigarette. That vapor is often nicotine, but it doesn’t have to be. Because it is possible to vape a substance without leaving a smell behind, teens can engage in “stealth vaping” of other kinds of drugs.
Some vendors on the dark web are reportedly selling vaping material with cocaine, morphine, MDMA (ecstasy), or sedatives like temazepam. There are even listings for fentanyl, an opiate responsible for thousands of fatal overdoses.
According to an article on thesun.com.uk, “people admit using the devices to vape cannabis, crack cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin, plus former legal highs such as mephedrone.”
Concerns About Discreet Drug Use
Even the vaping devices themselves can be hard to detect. Many of them are designed to look like pens or computer flash drives. According to kidshealth.org, the Juul e-cigarette “looks like a flash drive and can be charged in a laptop’s USB port.”
The Juul pod makes less smoke than other e-cigarettes, so some teens use them to vape at home and even in school. The nicotine levels in a Juul pod are the same as in a full pack of cigarettes.
According to one report, 12 percent of teenagers in New Jersey have tried e-cigarettes and hookah at least once. If you combine the numbers for cigarette smoking and vaping, nicotine use may have increased.
There has also apparently been an increase in the potency of liquids (nicotine and marijuana) used in vaping. Both nicotine and marijuana are addictive, and some researchers believe they can even prime the brain for addiction to other drugs.
How Vaping Works
Limited Research is a Concern
Because vaping is relatively new, there aren’t many long-term studies about the effects of vaping on the body. But in the short term, doctors have seen very damaging results for some individuals.
We know that e-cigarettes can irritate the lungs to the point where they may cause serious damage and even death. We also know that vaping may lead to smoking cigarettes or other forms of tobacco use.
Vaping becomes more dangerous when users move beyond nicotine and into marijuana, THC oil, or other chemicals. There is also some concern about what kinds of chemical additives are in the liquids that many vendors on the dark web are selling.
What Substances Can Be Vaped?
Virginia Commonwealth University has investigated which substances the vaping liquids contain and whether they can be vaporized. “The users believe they are experiencing better drug delivery,” said Michelle Peace, who led the study. “Part of our work has been to understand why they think that is the case.” Peace said that vaping could make “already dangerous drugs even more dangerous.”
In order to be vaporized, a drug needs to be stable enough to evaporate before it reacts to the oxygen in the air around it. This means smaller molecules tend to vape more easily than larger ones.
Many drugs are not easy to vape because they are sold as salts. The tight molecule bonding of drugs in their chemical salt form makes it more difficult for them to break apart. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Dissolving the drugs into a liquid can help to separate the molecules before they are heated.
Methamphetamine is a small molecule and evaporates easily. But the dangers of the drug don’t go away just because the drug form has been changed. It’s important to remember that the properties of any particular drug that get you high and damage your health remain after vaping takes place.
Vaping vs. Smoking
Vaping Allows For Rapid Delivery of Substance
Because most of the harmful chemicals remain the same regardless of what form they take, the answer to the question “is vaping better than smoking” is a qualified no. Although vaping may eliminate some of the fumes from traditional cigarette smoking, the dangers of nicotine (or other drugs) are still there.
Vaping is also a rapid form of drug delivery, allowing chemicals to enter the bloodstream and reach the brain very quickly. It may increase the potential for addiction since it increases the brain’s association between action and reward. Peace noted that the delivery of drugs directly to the lungs may make the drugs more effective than some other methods, presumably leading to a more immediate and dangerous effect on the body.
Is vaping worse than smoking? It would depend upon the chemicals being vaped and how they affect the body. Vaping a more potent chemical than nicotine would indeed be more harmful and addictive.
Controlling The Dosage Via Vape
The only potential benefit to vaping seems to be a better ability to control the dosage of some drugs. This means better control over the effects of those drugs. But those effects are still there, creating many of the same damages that would come from injection or other forms of taking drugs. The quick action of vaping could also increase the risk of drug overdose and dependence.
Vaping’s ability to better control dosages could actually be beneficial if the pharmaceutical industry could use it for more legitimate medical purposes. In theory, with the proper medicine and guidance, vaping could be an effective tool to deliver therapeutic pharmaceuticals in the future.
Dangers of Addiction
The Mechanisms of Addiction
Many people wonder, “Is vaping better than smoking,” but there is a more pressing question: does vaping increase the risk of drug abuse? The answer seems to be yes. (Source: health.usnews.com/)
For instance, nicotine and marijuana used in vaping stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a reward chemical, the brain’s way of telling us that an action is beneficial and should be repeated. The process is perfectly natural, but if you are using drugs to release dopamine, you are getting high doses that will bring about two effects.
First, you will find that taking the drug can easily become a compulsion. Second, your brain will slow down natural dopamine production in response to the drugs, making normally pleasurable activities seem pointless. In order to get the same “feel good” response, you will need to keep taking the drugs.
Does Vaping Have a Gateway Effect?
You may also end up seeking harder substances; the old worry about “gateway drugs” is well-justified when it comes to vaping. Research indicates that as much as 25 percent of teenagers who use e-cigarettes progressed to smoking pot, compared to 12.5 percent of teens who did not use e-cigarettes.
Drug abuse can have similar effects on the body as the brain. When a chemical enters the body, the body can become dependent upon it to function properly – even if the chemical itself is harmful. When both the body and the mind require a chemical to function properly, the addiction sufferer will start to feel as if they have no choice but to keep feeding their addiction.
Addiction can truly be called a disease because of these factors. It’s a complicated condition that requires professional help to treat it properly. If you are vaping and worried that you might be addicted, please contact us today. We can connect you with a local rehab facility that can help you.
What to do if You Suspect Someone You Love is Vaping Drugs
If you’re wondering how to know if someone you care about is vaping drugs, communication is the only way to find out. In some circumstances, it is possible to drug test. For example, your son, daughter, or spouse.
If you’re already aware of a loved one using drugs via vape, please call us and let’s discuss your options for getting them immediate help!
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