[Dr. Volkow Speaking]
It was very surprising for us, while we have been monitoring these behaviors in teenagers, to see how fast they embraced this new technology, because we have never seen a rise in acceptance of drug among teenagers as what we have seen for vaping.…there are many reasons why teenagers say they are vaping and this is actually a question that comes in the survey, the number one reason that the teenagers express is that they want to experiment.
The number two reason, very close in numbers, is actually because they like the flavors.
And these two are the top, top reasons.
But what is very notable is that we’ve seen actually a third reason why now these teenagers are vaping that has doubled as a reason this past year, which is they’re basically vaping because they are hooked on these devices.
Another reason why teenagers vape is that these devices allow you to use them in ways that you can hide very easily, they don’t have a smell, so they can be vaping them at school, and they’re also very easy to carry.
And as a result of that, teenagers are vaping at school, they can go into bathroom and hide it.
One of the main concerns that we have is of course that the younger they start, the greater the likelihood of addiction.
But both for vaping and nicotine, or vaping of nicotine and vaping of marijuana, there is also the concern about the effects that these drugs may have on the developing brain.
And the brain of adolescents is undergoing very fast transitioning and part of the processes that regulate and mediate those changes as our brain develops are modulated by nicotine receptors, which are the ones stimulated by nicotine, but also by the cannabinoid receptors, which are the ones that are stimulated by marijuana, whether it is smoked or whether it is vaped.
And as a result of that, there is a big concern that through the use of this vaping devices teenagers may be modifying their brain.
Additionally, as we have all become aware, we’ve also come to recognize that vaping devices were not as safe as we had thought they were.
And this has been brought up to our attention by the reports of actually people dying from acute lung injury associated with vaping, as well as, even if they don’t die, with significant damage to their lungs from inhalation of products that are used in order dissolve the drugs that the person is administering.
Now, these are the manifestations that are acute, because they are so severe.
What we yet do not know is what are the consequences that maybe for more subtle effects, that may take years to emerge, which may relate to the fact that you are delivering very high temperature vapor into your lung, that with repeated use and regular use and frequent use, may lead to harm.
And it’s too young of a technology for us to have the experience of what may be its consequences.
But that’s something very much of worry right now.