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Your Teen, the COVID Quarantine and the Unhealthy Habit They Could Be Hiding

The stay-at-home orders of the pandemic have had a major impact on the American family. Parents across the country were furloughed from their job or forced to work from home. Schools were shut down, turning homes into remote classrooms. Besides that, much of everything was closed, giving us nowhere to go. The combination forced many families to spend more time together.

In those moments, many parents had revelations about their children. Some good — like discovering a daughter’s budding talent for baking. Other discoveries aren’t as pleasant — such as realizing their child might be addicted to vaping.

The statistics on teen tobacco usage among middle and high school students in the United States is surprising. According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control:

  • 2 million students admitted to using some type of tobacco product
  • E-cigarettes (vapes) were the most commonly used tobacco product
  • More than 5 million middle and high school students currently use e-cigarettes
  • The number above is higher than the 3.6 million revealed in the same study the year before

“Our nation’s youth are becoming increasingly exposed to nicotine, a drug that is highly addictive and can harm brain development,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D., after the release of the survey. “Youth use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe. It is incumbent upon public health and healthcare professionals to educate Americans about the risks resulting from this epidemic among our youth.”

What is Vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapor from an electronic vaping device. These devices heat a liquid typically containing nicotine, and produce a cloud of vapor. Many e-cigarettes come in fruit, candy, and other kid-friendly flavors, which make them so appealing to kids.

So what should parents look for? There are many different devices from which teens can vape. However, flavored e-cigarettes that look like an elongated thumb drive are the most popular among teens. They are not only the cheapest, they are the simplest vapes to use. They are small, discreet, and disposable. Users say they are ideal for stealth vaping — which is another reason why teens prefer them.

One vape pen can contain as much nicotine as two or three packs of cigarettes.

Nicotine and the Teen Brain

Years of research show nicotine to be addictive and harmful to the development of adolescent brains. The part of your child’s brain responsible for making decisions and impulse control is not fully developed in adolescence. Because of this, teens are more likely to take risks with their health and safety. Vaping is one of those risks. Research suggests teen vaping can lead to long-term brain changes, like nicotine addiction, mood disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

This can all have an impact on learning, too. When a new skill is learned or memory made, the brain builds a strong connection between brain cells. These are called synapses. Nicotine can alter the way these critical synapses are formed.

There is also evidence that nicotine use in adolescence may increase the risk of future addiction to other drugs.

Teen Perceptions

Teens continue to believe vaping is relatively harmless. A national survey about teen perceptions on e-cigarette usage found:

  • 10 percent of U.S. youth believe e-cigarettes cause no harm
  • 62 percent believe they cause little or some harm
  • 28 percent believe they cause a lot of harm when they are used some days but not every day

Before the quarantine, 74 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds surveyed said they obtained vaping products from a retail store. Just over half said they got products through social sources, such as a friend or family members. Since the stay-at-home orders reduced access to e-cigarettes or vaping supplies, many teens may be exhibiting signs of withdrawal.

Talk to Your Teen

If you suspect your teen is vaping, the best approach is to open a line of calm communication. Try using an open-ended question to get the conversation started, such as “What do you think about vaping?” Be prepared to listen rather than give a lecture.

Ask why before suggesting why not. Hear your child out about their choice to start vaping. You should express your understanding about the risks of vaping and the impact it can have on your child’s health and well-being. Convey your expectations, and if you set consequences, be sure to follow through.

We Can Help

An easy way parents can determine whether their child is using tobacco products — whether vaping or traditional cigarettes is with a simple test.

 Any Lab Test Now offers parents a variety of testing options that don’t involve a doctor’s visit or referral — and testing results can remain anonymous. There are three types of tests available:

Urine Test – This is a good choice if a parent suspects their child has recently used nicotine. The specimen will be screened and confirmed, with results available in 48 to 72 hours.

Hair Test – This is a good option for parents who think their child has been either vaping or smoking nicotine for a long period of time. It only takes seven days for nicotine to start showing in the strands of your hair. The Hair Test can determine if someone has used nicotine as far back as three months.

 Blood Test – This simple blood draw test can detect traces of nicotine just hours after use.

Be at Ease

 If you are considering testing your teen for nicotine use but are wary of bumping into a coronavirus patient at your doctor’s office, you can be at ease with a visit to Any Lab Test Now. We provide you a safe and clean location for lab work. Each of our 185+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s healthcare so you can make educated decisions that directly affect your quality of life. We are here to help. Find your closest Any Lab Test Now at www.anylabtestnow.com.