For the Juul generation, nicotine addiction occurs quickly and is difficult to shake

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When Will tried his first vaporizer during his second year, he didn't know what to expect. It was just something he had vaguely heard of in his high school.

"I remember using it a lot, like in a row," he said. "And there is this huge head race similar to a buzzing sensation. And I … I didn't really stop."

Will continued to vape the nicotine for the next year and a half. It was part of a trend. Teenagers & # 39; The use of electronic cigarettes has doubled since 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, with 1 in 4 high school seniors reporting the use of a vape in the previous month.

He is now an elder in a high school on the outskirts of Washington, DC (NPR and Kaiser Health News are using Will's name only to be able to talk freely about his use without fear of repercussions at school or at home.)

He will overcome his nicotine addiction before this summer's epidemic of severe lung disease and deaths connected to vape. But occasionally the THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, vaporizes. He said the diseases did not allow him or his friends to stop, partly because vape is an important part of adolescent culture – and also because they think nothing bad will happen to them.

"I feel that, for many people, it's just a possibility they are willing to seize," he said. "I don't think many children are thinking about the future".

The last spring, three students at the Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., were taken by ambulance to the emergency room a two separate incidents after having the THC vaped.

All three students had lost consciousness, however, the cases are not among those investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Mary Anderson, spokeswoman for health and human services in Montgomery County. The students had shown no respiratory symptoms, explained Anderson, and the incidents occurred before the CDC issued a guide on reporting serious lung diseases.

Churchill High School principal Brandi Heckert said she saw the vaping explode in popularity in the last year.

"Suddenly, it went from zero to 60 – in, like, not time," he said.

Teachers and staff have come a long way in order to recognize the different types of vaporizers, Heckert said. Vaporizers can look like a USB stick or other digital devices – so easy to hide that students can sometimes use them in the classroom.

"I think what scares us many times is that, unless they have a cartridge or a package, we don't know what's going on," Heckert said. "And that makes it really difficult to help them if they are in need."

For example, he said last spring, school officials didn't know exactly what the three students treated in the emergency room had ingested for serious symptoms related to vape.

For teenagers who vaporize, even a nicotine addiction has increased rapidly. Will recalled his use out of control.

"I kept doing it," he said. "I remember, especially when I got home, I kept using mine – all night – until I felt sick to my stomach."

Initially, Will and his friends found someone who bought the pods containing nicotine-containing liquid for them from a store. But in the end, Will said, he was able to buy his pods online on eBay and other sites.

After a while, he no longer had the head that made the vaping satisfactory in the beginning. But he kept buying nicotine.

Towards the end, the teenager said, "it seemed a little insignificant, like just buying these $ 20 packets of nicotine juice. It didn't really seem like I was earning much from it, and then, over time , my lungs started to hurt. "

Will stopped vaping last spring almost by accident. A friend had jumped into a pool with Will's Juul device, making it useless. He spent hours trying to solve it, but his efforts didn't work. Another Juul device to replace it would have cost him about $ 50.

"It didn't really seem like it was something that was really worthwhile for me. And I knew I was trying to be definitely more proactive and healthy," he said.

So he stopped vaping – cold turkey – and felt a strong desire for three weeks in a row.

"I see why it would be so difficult for others to stop," he said.

Will believes that for some people, including him, vape is a phase. But others are really addicted, he said.

Louis Schreiber, a senior at Winston Churchill High School, in the Maryland suburb of Washington, DC, is working on the creation of an anti-vape group in the school. He has asthma and says he hopes the eruption of serious pulmonary diseases related to vaping among adolescents will serve as an alarm clock for other students (Elly Yu / WAMU)

Louis Schreiber, a senior at Churchill High School, does not vape himself and is trying to create an anti-vaping group among his classmates. He has asthma and said he avoids school bathing due to vaping.

It is part of a task force on vape in Montgomery County and said he hopes that the series of recent diseases has served as a "wake-up call" for some of his peers. But he agreed that the national wave of lung diseases will not prevent many from vaping.

At this time, said Schreiber, the use of electronic cigarettes "is seen as an interesting and popular thing" among his colleagues. "Staying in high school for any reason, certainly, between this generation, is difficult," he said. "And going against this would be almost, you know, impossible."

However, Phoebe Chambers, a Churchill junior, said the news shelters scared some of her classmates.

"People who have never vaped probably don't want to try it now. But the children who are addicted – I think they're struggling," Chambers said.

"I have a friend who left because they realized how bad it was, and it was very, very difficult for them," he said. Chambers is worried about the way the vape will affect the health of his generation. Even if a teenager tries to stop using vaporizers, the devices are difficult to avoid.

"It's not just something that's limited to just one social group," Chambers said. "It's not just like the group of kids who, like, are stoners. It's the athletes. They are the nerds. They all are. It has infiltrated every social clique. Every type of person knows someone – or maybe he is that person – who is svapando ".

This story is part of a collaborative relationship with WAMU is NPR.

Kaiser Health NewsThis article has been reprinted by khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan health research organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

. (tagsToTranslate) Dependency (t) Nicotine (t) Asthma (t) Drug abuse (t) Elderly (t) Vaping

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