WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The Centers for Disease Control is clear about the dangers of young people using e-cigarettes. But a new study out Wednesday reveals some alarming findings when it comes to teens vaping nicotine and marijuana.
The study surveyed students from nearly 400 schools nationwide. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, the organization behind the study as well as a NEPA organization that provides substance treatment and counseling consider the findings worrisome.
More and more teens are vaping according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse report called Monitoring the Future. And it’s not just a pathway to possible nicotine addiction that’s concerning.
“We also see a marked increase of vaping marijuana and this has surprised many of us,” said National Institute on Drug Abuse Deputy Director Wilson Compton, MD, MPE.
The report surveyed more than 42,000 8th, 10th and 12th graders in the U.S. It found that roughly one in five high school seniors vaped marijuana in 2019. Nearly as many sophomores surveyed also admitted to it while seven percent of eighth-graders vaped marijuana as well.
Dr. Compton said, “Teens’ use of marijuana has not increased very much in the last two years but use of vaping to administer marijuana has almost doubled in the last two years.”
“Yeah, I’m not surprised by that number,” said Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services CEO Jason Harlen.
Among the thousands of clients Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services treats and counsels each year are hundreds of teens including some who vape marijuana.
Mr. Harlen said, “If you look at the vaping and the different products that are available right now the accessibility is just immense.”
The concern is that vaping marijuana is a stepping stone to abusing other drugs.
“They had a joint so I smoke it,” said Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services Certified Recovery Specialist Cathy Ryzner.
Marijuana became a gateway drug for her when she was a child.
“I had no clue what getting high was. But I knew that it calmed me down and took away the anxiety I had,” said Ms. Ryzner. “I was nine years old. I was nine.”
Battling addiction most of her life, Ms. Ryzner is now 13 years clean and sober with an urgent warning for teens whose bodies and minds are still developing.
“So many dangers to your physical health, your mental health because you are getting… the addiction is setting in. Whether it’s tobacco, marijuana the addiction is setting in.”
Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services works with schools in Luzerne and Wyoming Counties to discuss the dangers of vaping and vaping marijuana.