In the Clouds of Concern: Understanding and Addressing the Youth Vaping Epidemic

While there have been many youth epidemics over the last several decades, none seem to have ever been as widespread and challenging to quell as vaping. For scores of youths ranging from middle school students to high school students, vaping has become a normalized habit that is seemingly impossible to quit.

As a counselor, it’s essential for you to have an in-depth understanding of this severe public health issue. Pulling back the veil and gaining a deeper awareness of what the vaping epidemic looks like and how to combat it is critical to cultivating a clear perspective on the future of youth in America.

Here is understanding and addressing the youth vaping epidemic.

Why You Should Be Concerned

When it comes to vaping, it can sometimes be difficult to grasp how it negatively impacts those who engage in the activity. The reason for this, in large part, is the time it takes to conduct studies on the effects of practices such as vaping.

However, though studies are still ongoing, some results have begun to be published and are helping show the negative impacts of vaping. Specifically, studies have helped paint a picture of what vaping does to the brain — especially in teenagers.

What studies seem to indicate is that consistently engaging in vaping can increase one’s risk of experiencing “brain fog.” Put simply, brain fog can be described as a state that makes it difficult to concentrate and think clearly. Other causes of brain fog include a lack of adequate sleep, dementia, and increased levels of stress.

Though these insights are alarming enough, experts seem to believe that children under thirteen years old are at the most risk of being adversely affected by vaping. The reason for this is that their brains are not yet fully developed and, as a result, are still malleable. 

In addition to the increasing problem of nicotine vaping, many teenagers are now using vaping devices to ingest marijuana. Beyond vaping alone, marijuana is likely to negatively impact the brains of teenagers and children who ingest it. As a result, many youths today are at risk of harming their brain development as a result of their vaping and marijuana use.

Why It’s Difficult to Stop Youth Vaping

Many schools, governmental bodies, teachers, and parents have attempted to stop children and youth from vaping. Unfortunately, this seems to be in vain as vaping continues to rise in popularity among the nation’s youth.

Why, many are asking, is it so difficult to stop the youth from vaping? There are several key reasons that this task has been so difficult, and you must understand them as a high school counselor.

One significant reason it’s been difficult to quell the youth vaping epidemic is that it’s difficult to tell whether teenagers are vaping. Unlike smoking cigarettes or marijuana, vaping usually doesn’t leave a lasting or significant odor. Consequently, many school staff and parents may be completely unaware of students’ vaping habits.

Another key reason that youth vaping is so difficult to stop is the ease with which teenagers can hide their vapes. While some bigger contraptions do exist, many vapes are small and can be virtually undetectable when hidden in a pocket or backpack.

Finally, one of the most difficult reasons to combat is that many teenagers do not believe that vaping is actually bad for them. Given the lack of definitive evidence from studies and no significant symptoms of harm after vaping, scores of teenagers believe that vaping is not causing them any harm.

Though it can be disheartening to look at how out of hand the vaping epidemic has become, there are ways that you can help. In fact, high school counselors can play a key role in curbing this trend and helping students stay healthy.

How to Combat Youth Vaping

As a high school counselor, you’re likely looking for ways to help your students quit vaping and keep their bodies healthy. Unfortunately, this process can sometimes be difficult to start. Fortunately, having some guidance can make this task far easier.

Some keyways you can combat youth vaping include:

Educating students: As has been noted, many students continue to vape because they don’t believe it is actually harmful. By showing students research studies and explaining the harm of vaping, you’ll likely be able to get many to stop.

Giving students tools to avoid peer pressure: Peer pressure is one of the most common ways that students begin vaping. As a result, preparing students with the skills and tools to shirk peer pressure is a great way to prevent them from developing vaping habits.

Not scolding, but helping: For many teenagers, being caught vaping and scolded, as a result, will do nothing to stop their habit. Instead, being calm and open-minded can have far better results as a counselor, teacher, or parent. Instead of punishing teenagers, help them devise a plan for quitting their gnawing addiction.

You Can Help Stop the Youth Vaping Epidemic

As a school counselor, you have an opportunity to connect with students and steer them on the right path. In today’s world, an important aspect of that process is ensuring that students don’t vape. Fortunately, there are techniques you can utilize to help achieve this aim.

As time goes on and school staff and parents become savvier at combatting this issue, many are hopeful that the youth vaping epidemic will soon be an incident of the past.