The Risks of Vaping Marijuana and Other Cannabis Products

Published On: May 14, 20244.5 min read894 wordsCategories: Substance Abuse

In the past decade, two substance-related trends have become incredibly popular, seemingly overnight. Consuming marijuana and vaping was uncommon or under the radar. Now, marijuana use and vaping, or vaping marijuana products, appear to be the norm, especially among young people.

How common is marijuana and vaping?

In the United States, an estimated 18 percent of Americans used cannabis products at least once in the year 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a Gallup Poll, a much larger percentage of young people have used marijuana products. 30 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 reported regularly smoking marijuana.

Vaping use doesn’t always indicate marijuana use. Originally created to help smokers scale back from cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or vapes were introduced to produce small doses of nicotine. While vaping is less harmful than smoking proportionally, vaping carries numerous health consequences and frequently leads to greater addiction.

Vaping devices are now commonly used to consume marijuana and THC products. Designed with sleek, attractive and discrete packaging, vape pens and other devices can easily be carried around and used throughout the day. Moreover, flavorings and marketing have made these products attractive to young people, and an estimated 1 in 5 teens use some type of vaping device.

Is vaping addictive?

Many parents and teens alike ask themselves “is vaping addictive?” It’s easy to compare nicotine vaping devices to cigarettes and marijuana vaping devices to opioids and consider vaping the “lesser evil.” While vaping can be less addictive than other substance use habits, the chemicals and behavior of vaping can surely become a full-fledged addiction.

As with any substance use, the drug that is consumed (in this case marijuana) travels to the brain. When marijuana is inhaled, pleasure hormones are released in the brain, inducing feelings of relaxation, euphoria, confidence or emotional closeness. The brain’s reward system is reinforced to desire these experiences again, even despite negative health consequences. After repeated use, the body develops a tolerance to the drug and requires more and more of the same substance to feel the pleasurable effects.

Over time, a full-fledged addiction develops as these cravings are fed. Soon, a drug dependence will develop and a person feel unable to control their thoughts about the drug. Normal life begins to feel impossible as getting the next dose is the controlling motive in that person’s life.

No one intends for addiction to be one of the side effects of vaping weed, but it’s the serious reality of vaping when it’s left unaddressed and untreated.

What are the dangers of vaping?

The side effects of vaping weed are similar to the side effects of marijuana consumption in general. However, many marijuana vaping devices can be filled with other harmful chemicals, like nicotine and other carcinogens. This compounds the negative effects and can worsen the body’s typical response to cannabis products.

The dangers of vaping include the following symptoms.

  • Exposure to harmful chemicals like nicotine, carcinogens and metals
  • A decline in school performance
  • Trouble focusing
  • Paranoid or secretive behavior
  • Difficulty thinking about anything except vaping
  • Using vaping as a tool to cope emotionally
  • Feeling anxious when unable to vape
  • Struggling to go a single day without vaping

The dangers of vaping are especially potent for teens and young adults. This is an important stage of brain development and the side effects of vaping weed can make school, socialization and work extra challenging.

What are the long-term effects of weed pens?

There is a great need for research regarding vaping marijuana and the long-term effects of weed pens and other devices. Here is what science has found so far.

  • Respiratory problems
  • Impaired brain development
  • Poor ability to pay attention for sustained periods of time
  • Issues with impulse control
  • Memory impairments
  • Trouble with decision-making
  • Emotional regulation problems
  • Higher risk of illness and longer recovery (weakened immune system)
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Consumption of other harmful chemicals
  • Increased risk of future addiction

Vape pens and other devices may seem harmless to teenagers, but the reality is that they can cause life-altering effects.

Why is vaping bad for teens?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that marijuana use disorder occurs in three out of ten users, meaning those three individuals are unable to function well in their normal lives due to the addictive habits and behaviors caused by marijuana consumption. The risk of developing a substance use disorder is much higher for an individual who begins using before the age of 18.

There are plenty of reasons why vaping is bad for teens. One of the primary reasons is due to the rate at which an adolescent’s brain develops. During childhood and teen years, a person’s brain grows in regions that affect memory, learning, processing, coordination, decision making and so forth. Cannabis products, including weed pens, create direct negative effects on the brain, causing delays in these areas.

Consuming marijuana also impairs judgment and reactions, much like alcohol. Smoking marijuana can lead to accidents, especially motor vehicle accidents. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, and abusing substances like marijuana can lead to intoxicated and dangerous driving.

Getting help for a vaping addiction

If you think you may be addicted to vaping marijuana, you can find the help you need. While young people may not consider uncontrollable vaping a serious problem, it can lead to disastrous health consequences and disruption to your normal life down the road.

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