The Influence Of Social Media On Teen Drug Use
Jena Hilliard ❘
Teens are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of what they see on social media, including pics and ads for binge drinking and drug use.
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For nearly 3.6 million teens across the country, the most pressing addiction issue isn’t to illicit drugs, alcohol, or social media; it’s Nicotine. Anti-cigarette campaigns throughout the 2010s managed to bring teen smoking to record lows. Yet, ahead of a planned release of study results, the US Surgeon General revealed that Nicotine abuse has skyrocketed in recent years. E-cigarettes and vaping devices–named for the process of heating liquid until it vaporizes–are used by 20.8% of high schoolers, an 80% increase from the year before. Between 2011 and 2015, use increased by more than 900%.
Teens that vape are doing so more frequently than they did in previous years. Of current vapers, over a quarter vaped 20 of the last 30 days.
For years, public health organizations fought to reduce the amount of exposure teens had to Tobacco product marketing. Studies have shown that the more Tobacco advertising an individual in their formative years was subjected to, the more likely they were to start smoking. Almost 9 of 10 smokers started before 18; 98% started by 26. Each month, one in 5 students vape regularly (a 78% increase among high schoolers from last year). One in 20 students have reported vaping Marijuana.
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Today, federal health agencies and parents alike are criticizing vape companies like Juul, who market flavored pods like mango, fruit, and crème that are popular with teens. Also known as “juuling,” data shows that 73% of teens who use tobacco products used flavored ones. When asked what they thought was in their e-cigarettes, over 70% of 8th graders and 50% of 12th graders responded, “just flavoring.”
Between 2011 and 2015, e-cigarette use climbed 900% among high school students.
In the summer of 2018, the FDA cracked down on over 1,300 retailers that had illegally sold vaping products to minors.
Teens who use e-cigarettes are 30.7% more likely to start smoking cigarettes within 6 months.
While not all e-cigarettes contain nicotine (found naturally in tobacco), the majority do. Nicotine can stunt the brain’s growth, especially if consumed before it’s fully grown around the age of 25. The addictive chemical also changes the way certain brain pathways develop, affecting areas responsible for attention span and learning ability.
Typically, vaping pods contain other additives as well–many of which are harmful to developing bodies, including:
Nicotine addiction may not be life-threatening in the short-term but can cut an individual’s life by 10+ years with long-term use. Fortunately, recovering from an addiction to vaping and e-cigarette use can be managed with the help of a primary care provider and a system of support. For many teens, treating underlying mental health issues (like anxiety or depression) can help with substance use disorders as well. If you’re interested in more information about addiction treatment, contact a treatment provider today.
Destiny Bezrutczyk is a Digital Content Writer from west Iowa. She earned a Bachelor’s in English Language and Literature from Texas Tech University. After working as a freelance script and blog writer, she began writing content for tech startups. Maintaining a passion for words, she took on a variety of projects where her writing could help people (especially those battling mental health and substance use disorders).