January 16, 2018 —
Every month, we keep you informed on the latest studies and research in our "Not My Teen" blog series. Today, we're looking at a Pediatrics survey on e-cigarette use among high school students.
Last month, NPR shared the findings from a Pediatrics study, "Trajectories of E-Cigarette and Conventional Cigarette Use Among Youth," which surveyed about 800 students from three Connecticut high schools. The study showed that overall vaping and e-cigarette use is growing among teens—a trend also found in this year’s Monitoring the Future survey from The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the University of Michigan—with many students saying their friends own a JUUL – a discretely sized e-cigarette that can be easily concealed in a closed fist and can be used indoors without attracting much attention or creating a smell.
A desire for discretion is often a factor for teens engaging in risky behaviors. In fact, over-discretion can also be a warning sign of teens abusing other substances such as dextromethorphan, the active ingredient found in most over-the-counter cough medicines. Teens may believe that their abuse of this substance will be more easily hidden since it is found in a common household medicine. Not only is it legal, affordable and relatively easy to obtain, but many parents wouldn’t be suspicious if they noticed an empty bottle of medicine lying around as it would probably be easy to assume their teen was feeling under the weather.
Ultimately, it’s important for parents, teachers, and authority figures to remind teens that, more often than not, if they have to hide a behavior, they most likely shouldn’t be doing it.
You can help prevent teens from engaging in unhealthy or dangerous behaviors, such as substance use and abuse, by trying these tips:
• Communicate openly about difficult subject matters.
• Set ground rules and share them in a two-way dialogue.
• Prepare them for how they can respond to uncomfortable situations.
• Discipline respectfully and calmly by encouraging them to think about what they learned and what they would do differently in the future.
• Trust in their ability to make smart decisions.
It’s also incredibly important to continuously educate yourself about new trends among teens, whether it’s the use of devices like the JUUL or new slang terms teens use to talk discreetly amongst each other. One way to keep in the know is by following our Not My Teen blog series for updates on surveys, studies and news articles that relate to teen behaviors and teen parenting.
You can read the full article from NPR.org here and the full Pediatrics study here.
Along with following our blog, you can keep up with the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on studies, parenting tips, and more information on keeping teens away from risky behaviors.