Can an increase in Vaping lead to an increase in Substance addiction?

Is vaping a gateway to the usage of other drugs and alcohol? The saga of the popular e-cigarette brand Juul takes another surprising turn. On June 23, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned Juul from selling and marketing its popular e-cigarette products as well as the removal of all current inventory on the market. The government ban determined Juul lacked sufficient evidence to demonstrate that marketing the products would be of public health interest. In other words, there was not enough evidence to prove that it would direct adult smokers who use them away from traditional cigarette smoking. The ban on Juul was made as part of an effort to bring more scientific and health scrutiny to the e-cigarette industry and ensure that they were being marketed to meet public health standards, according to the FDA. 

A person is holding a black handheld vape device surrounded by smoking vapors.

The following day, a temporary lift on the ban was enacted, allowing Juul to continue its e-cigarette sales, while both the company and FDA race to make the next big move.  

Since its debut on the e-cigarette market, Juul has popularized the term “vaping” and has also been widely criticized as a factor for the significant increase in underage e-cigarette usage due to its marketing of fruity and sweet “flavors.” According to the manufacturer, Juul cartridges also contain higher levels of nicotine that rival that of a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. 

Tobacco and nicotine are addictive and the fruition of e-cigarettes was to create a “healthier” alternative and to help people quit their addiction to tobacco. However, studies have shown that it has adverse effects on the younger population leading to an increase in addiction to nicotine in teens and young adults. According to the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), studies found that nicotine dependence levels in vape users were two times higher than with users of traditional cigarettes. 

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With the increase in vape popularity among young adults, has the nicotine addiction also led to an increase in other substance addictions? According to research, an estimated 30% of those who smoke are alcoholics and 80% of alcoholics are smokers. The correlation between vaping and drug and alcohol usage is very common as both substances are highly addictive. Vaping is usually the first substance teens and young adults use, eventually leading to other substance usages. 

In an article from the American Journal of Addictions, “e-cigarette users reported having a higher prevalence of substance use relative to those who did not use e-cigarettes.” Because of this, vaping of illicit drugs is not new. Some of the most commonly vaped illicit drugs include marijuana, methamphetamines and opioids. Excessive vaping of these drugs leads to addiction. 

Similar to alcohol and other substances, nicotine is addictive and harmful to adolescent brain development. It can physically alter and change brain functions, which in turn increases the risk of addiction to other and future drug usage. This also leads to the development of co-occurring mental health disorders that can again contribute to the usage of “harder” drugs and alcohol.

Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea

We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

Ultimately, nicotine addiction as a result of vaping, becomes a major factor in an endless cycle of substance addiction and mental health conditions. 

For those who have moved from nicotine addiction and become dependent on other dangerous substances such as drugs and alcohol, professional help may be needed. At Hotel California by the Sea, we help those suffering from addiction to substances such as marijuana and alcohol along with co-occurring mental health conditions. Vape users are at higher risk for addiction to illicit drugs and mental health disorders and can find help and relief through the inpatient and outpatient rehab programs at Hotel California by the Sea.