Vaping illness epidemic continues to spread

Ella Nelson, Copy Editor

Vaping is undoubtedly known by almost every high school student in the U.S. It is no secret this is a substantial threatening problem across the country, however many students are not taking vaping and the harsh risks that come along with it seriously. The truth is, vaping and high schoolers do not mix.

Health teacher Erin Nickleby explained that e-cigarettes can be a “huge detriment or cause a huge detriment to your health. They’re real. They’re scary.”

The use of e-cigarettes or vapes, especially, as an adolescent comes with countless health risks. Products containing nicotine are highly addictive and if often used, can lead to harder substance use in the future. This can make one prone to a variety of concerning health issues. If vaping is abused at such a young age, it can lead to harmful effects on adolescent’s brain development, the effects stretch into the mid-20’s. When the development of the brain during teen years is stunted, it can lead to difficulty concentrating, remembering material and regulating self-control.

“The prefrontal cortex is what is responsible for your decision-making, and nicotine makes you more prone to impulsive decision-making, along with taking risks, trying stronger substances and being effected by peer pressure,” school nurse Nicole Myers said.

Recently, the vaping epidemic has taken a turn. There has been over 800 cases of severe respiratory illnesses affecting teens and young adults across the U.S., specifically 46 states and one U.S. territory. This issue is becoming more threatening to those affected. As the number of cases is growing by the day, the number of deaths grows as well.

“With the cases, as more and more are popping up, it’s just become more evident teens are abusing more. It’s not just a little use here. It’s incredibly scary,” Nickleby said.

With the cases, as more and more are popping up, it’s just become more evident teens are abusing more. It’s not just a little use here. It’s incredibly scary,”

— Erin Nickleby

It all leads to one thing, figuring out what exactly is in these cartridges that teens are inhaling into their lungs. The latest findings have suggested that products containing THC play a part in the outbreak, along with nicotine-containing products found in e-cigs or other vaping products. 77 percent of the patients reported using THC products and 57 percent reported using nicotine-containing products. However, the specific chemical causing the lung injuries currently remains unknown.

“They can link it to the THC inside of it, but I don’t even think they know yet. I think they’re still trying to figure out what’s going on. I do know that there’s so many gross chemicals inside of those e-cigarettes like formaldehyde,” Myers said.

While more research supporting the unhealthy truth of vaping is being uncovered, the ongoing investigation relating to the recent cases of lung disease continues, it is highly recommended that adults and especially adolescents should refrain from vaping or e-cigarette products. Those who have been a victim to nicotine or THC addiction, see a healthcare provider immediately.

Student council representative Mara Doe adds that she believes vaping is ruining student’s education, relationships and overall health.