Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. We can’t assume that teens who vape can stop using immediately. The drug nicotine hijacks the normal wiring of the teenage brain in a way that addiction to the drug can happen very quickly. Addiction to any drug is a disease and needs to be treated as such. Here are some suggestion on how we can help.

• Encourage teenagers to pick a “quit date.” They can alert friends and family members of the day they plan to quit.

• Suggest a text app like SmokefreeTXT for Teens that provides 24/7 tips on support and quitting strategies. Quit-vaping sites like smokefree.com offer a list of social and emotional triggers that one should avoid when trying to quit vaping, such as encouraging teens to refrain from using social media, avoid hanging out with friends who vape and be ready to say “no thanks” or “I’m all set” if someone offers a vape.

• Plan activities that help avoid vaping. Emotional triggers can cause one to vape, such as feeling sad, lonely, bored or even happy or excited. Phone apps like QuitSTART can help when those triggers arise.

The Stanford University Tobacco Prevention Toolkit is a free resource for parents, teachers and school communities to use in educating teens about the risks of vaping. Let us all work together to help our teens stay healthy.

Barbara Sullivan

drug and alcohol prevention specialist

Portland

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