Electronic cigarette use, or vaping, has reached an all-time high in recent years. Children and teens are becoming the most recent victims of the e-cigarette hype that is gaining traction on social media.
What many people neglect to realize is that e-cigarettes are no safer than regular cigarettes. The smoke they produce is toxic, carcinogenic, and makes users susceptible to a range of lung-related issues.
While the vaporization process does eliminate some of the harmful chemicals in the smoke, there are many other risks associated with vaping. E-cigarettes are intended to provide the psychoactive effects of vaporized nicotine through inhalation. Not only is the smoke itself harmful to the lungs, but also the smoke contains other dangerous chemicals that lead to a host of health issues.
What makes vaping especially dangerous is the ability to swap out the nicotine for other drugs. These cartridges that people smoke with vapes are usually infused with flavors to make the habit more appealing. Now, kids are beginning to carry their vapes everywhere and even share the substances with friends. This poses a real threat to public health because the drugs are becoming more accessible for teens.
If you know a teen or young adult who is using e-cigarettes for vaping drugs, it’s time you both learned the potential health risks of this dangerous habit. It’s possible they might be vaping as a way to cope with mental health issues, and they need immediate help.
Here, we’ll go over the most frequently abuse drugs that can be smoked out of an electronic cigarette. Equip your loved one with the facts they need to know about vaping drug abuse with the following guide.
Concerned for yourself or a loved one?
Why are Vapes So Popular?
Vapes initially became popular because they were an effective way for people to curb their smoking habit. People who once smoked cigarettes turned to vaping because it was much easier to quit smoking if they did it gradually. Once people discovered how to use vapes for other purposes, like taking drugs, they become popular because of their discreet appearance and ease of use.
Because they are not easily detected and not as popular among the older generation, children can easily slip them past teachers, parents, or even police officers. The driving factor behind the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes is convenience. Also, the effects are almost immediate.
But, when substance abuse in teenagers goes unnoticed, the consequences can be devastating and even fatal in some cases. Without the ability to detect drug addiction, it cannot be treated. That’s why it is more important than ever to watch your children and loved ones closely so you can immediately notice any changes in behavior.
How Do Vapes Work?
Vapes are small pen-like devices that heat up extracts, plant matter, or liquids without combusting them. Rather than burn the substance, vaporizers gently heat them. This gentle heating prevents some harmful chemicals from being inhaled along with the smoke.
The properties of the vapor vary depending on what is being smoked. Sometimes, the user is smoking their chosen substance in the form of a gas, and sometimes they are inhaling suspended liquid particles that evaporate.
Once the drug molecules are inhaled, they land on the lungs and pass into the bloodstream. Shortly thereafter, the drug’s effects hit the brain. This process is almost as quick as it would be if the substance was injected.
If you suspect your loved one is using drugs other than nicotine through their e-cigarette, it’s likely that they’re abusing one of the following substances. Here are some of the most common drugs you can vape:
Smoking Marijuana with Electronic Cigarettes
One of the most common drugs smoked through e-cigarettes is marijuana. E-cigarettes, which are powered by batteries, work by vaporizing a liquid nicotine solution that is contained in a small tube, or cartridge. The nicotine solution can actually be substituted with hash oil.
These cartridges are fairly easy to purchase. It’s easy to dissolve THC, the active compound in marijuana, in vegetable oil or seep marijuana leaves in the liquid to smoke it through a vape.
The THC cartridges used for vapes are more concentrated than other forms of marijuana, so vapes produce a much stronger high than dry marijuana leaves. Vaping marijuana is most popular amongst teens and young adults.
It can be hard to know if your child or loved one is vaping marijuana because vapes don’t usually produce an odor. It’s important that you be observant of their behavior and consult professional help if you think the problem is affecting their day-to-day life. If your loved one seems unusually exhausted throughout the day or is having memory issues, that may be a sign of marijuana use.
DMT out of e-cigarettes
DMT (N-Dimethyltryptamine) is another vaping drug with hallucinogenic effects. DMT actually occurs naturally in our brains and in plants. The drug form arrived in the United States in the 1900s but has been used by indigenous people for centuries to perform spiritual rituals in countries like Peru.
It can be ingested after brewing it into a tea or it can be smoked through a pipe/bong in its crystal form. When it is taken using a pipe/bong, the hallucinogenic effects are short-lived but powerful. People say that the hallucinogenic state brought on by DMT is one of the most intense psychedelic experiences in existence.
DMT can be put into a vape cartridge just like marijuana, meaning that people can smoke it like nicotine. Vaporizers with a higher heating capacity deliver a stronger dose of DMT. With these types of vaporizers, the hallucinogenic effects are even more intense.
Since DMT is arguably the most powerful psychedelic in the world, having access to it in e-cigarette form is alarming because of how casual it makes it seem. If you catch your child or loved one with a vape pen, don’t just assume that they are smoking nicotine because they could be abusing drugs like DMT.
If your child or loved one suffers from a mental illness, hallucinogenic drugs like DMT could worsen that illness. DMT also puts them at risk of respiratory arrest, coma, and seizures while on an antidepressant (SSRI). Consult a medical professional today if you think your loved one is suffering from a drug addiction in conjunction with a mental illness.
Smoking Spice with E-Cigarettes
Spice, or synthetic marijuana, varies from natural marijuana. Because it is made with synthetic cannabinoids, it does not contain any THC. This makes it incredibly popular as it is virtually untraceable on most at-home drug tests. Spice is widely abused because the synthetic cannabinoids latch onto the same receptors as THC, resulting in extremely si.
However, some types of synthetic cannabinoids are 100x more potent than THC, which leads to side effects like:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
One of the most alarming points about vaping spice is that many people are ingesting this substance on accident. The reasons for this seem to be primarily that the names of drugs are constantly being changed to mask the fact they contain synthetic cannabinoids, and often that the main ingredient in e-liquid drugs is usually concealed.
Flakka is another drug that people are beginning to smoke through standard nicotine vaporizers. Flakka is a stimulant similar to methamphetamine and cocaine. While on flakka, users describe feeling euphoric, concentrated, and energetic.
This drug, which is sometimes called “gravel” has a crystalline structure and looks like small rocks. While it can be snorted or injected, its vaporized form is becoming popular, which makes it easy to hide and the effects hit quicker.
While there isn’t much information available about the long-term effects of Flakka use, there are some severe mental and physical side effects that can occur after using Flakka:
- Abnormal or bizarre behavior
- Severe anxiety
- Spasms or jerking muscles
- Rapid heart rate
There is some evidence that Flakka can be toxic to the kidneys and cause renal failure. If you suspect that your loved one is using Flakka as a way to cope with mental illness, consult a professional immediately.
Extended Flakka usually leads to dependence, which can be difficult for your loved one to break free from, especially if it helps them deal with symptoms of a mental illness. Flakka is an extremely addictive substance, especially in its smokable form.
Here are some ways you can check if your loved one is using Flakka:
- High energy levels
- Unusually euphoric
- Sudden weight loss
- Nasal damage
- Uncharacteristically violent or hostile
The burgeoning popularity of e-cigarettes is posing a major threat to youth. Not only is consuming drugs easier than ever before with e-cigarettes, but it is also becoming possible for children and teens to vape these drugs with little chance of detection.
Drug use can have a detrimental effect on the developing mind. Your loved one may be trying to cope with mental health issues, and need immediate guidance. If you believe they are suffering from a stand-alone drug addiction or from a drug addiction brought on by previous mental health issues, we can help. Don’t hesitate to call us at (877) 799-1985 or visit the contact page on our website.
Spice – National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens
Spice Addiction Support – Vaping Spice & K2: More Dangerous Than Smoking? (no follow link)
Vapers Tricked into Buying Synthetic Cannabis-Laced Product
5 Things Parents Should Know About Marijuana E-Cigarette (2019). (no follow link)
How Teens Are Using E-Cigarettes to Smoke Marijuana (2019).
Flakka – New Kid on the Block (2018).