Mental Health Series

ABCs of Substance Abuse

In this session, we’ll discuss the growing use of vaping and its negative impact on adolescents’ health. We’ll help parents learn to recognize vaping’s varied forms, including JUUL pods, designed to resemble everyday items.

This summary discussion aims to equip parents with the knowledge and tools they’ll need to address possible concerns surrounding substance use, vaping-related health issues, and the potential mental and emotional ramifications.

Key Takeaways for Parents


Vaping Prevalence:

According to the CDC, research has shown that in 2019, 27.5% of high school students (4.11 million) and 10.5% of middle school students (1.24 million) reported current e-cigarette use.

Vaping's Appeal:

Recognize that vaping is marketed as fun to teens but is highly addictive and easier to hide than traditional smoking due to lack of odor.


Start conversations with your child about vaping early to establish open lines of communication and express your concerns about its impact.


Social Influence:

Be aware of changes in your child's social circles as they may indicate involvement in vaping or substance use.

Health Implications:

Learn to recognize potential signs of vaping, such as shortness of breath, coughing, nosebleeds, increased thirst, and acting sleep deprived, which can indicate health issues related to vaping.

Secondhand Effects:

Understand that secondhand emissions from vaping are harmful and educate your child about the true side effects of vaping, including impacts on brain development, concentration, and memory.

Comparison with Cigarettes:

Acknowledge that vaping poses similar health risks as cigarettes and that the increasing popularity of vaping among youth is reaching epidemic levels.

Understanding Vaping Devices:

Familiarize yourself with different vaping devices like e-cigarettes, JUUL pods, and vape pens, which often contain nicotine and may resemble common household items.

Behavioral Changes and Addiction:

Watch for behavioral changes in your child, as vaping can contribute to anxiety, depression, reckless behavior, and addiction to nicotine, which may require professional help and support.

6 Signs of Addiction in Adolescents

Recognizing the signs of addiction in adolescents is crucial for parents, friends, and caregivers to provide support and early intervention, and there are common symptoms to help identify and address those issues.

  1. Mood Swings and Personality Changes: Teens grappling with addiction often display sudden shifts in mood and personality due to the impact of addictive behaviors on their brain’s reward system. These changes may include irritability, anxiety, and euphoria, making it challenging for parents to predict their child’s emotional state and intervene effectively.
  2. Social Withdrawal and Isolation: Addiction can lead to withdrawal from established social circles and disinterest in hobbies, isolating teens from supportive networks. Recognizing these changes is crucial for parents to intervene and guide their child toward healthier social connections.
  3. Physical Indicators: Neglect of personal hygiene and unhealthy changes in weight can be physical manifestations of addiction in adolescents. Being vigilant of these signs can prompt conversations about potential addiction and address both the physical and emotional aspects of their well-being.
  4. Changes in Sleep Patterns: Disruptions in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive sleep, can indicate addiction in teens. Recognizing these changes is essential to restore healthy sleeping habits and address the underlying addictive behaviors.
  5. Defensiveness and Secrecy: Teens struggling with addiction may become defensive and secretive about their activities to shield their addictive behaviors from scrutiny. Breaking through these barriers of denial can encourage open dialogue and support.
  6. Loss of Control: Addiction can lead to a loss of control over addictive behaviors, with teens finding it increasingly challenging to resist the urge to engage in these habits. Understanding the cycle of addiction is crucial for parents to provide effective support and intervention.