Teenage Vaping Puts Structure In Place For Heroin and/or Cocaine Addiction

Share Article

Nationally Recognized Addiction Expert, Dr. Indra Cidambi, Highlights the Dangers of Vaping for America's Youth

News Image
“This trend is dangerous. Vaping devices are already being used to deliver marijuana and could be leveraged to deliver even more potent drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, down the road."

Teenage smoking has decreased over the past few years in America, but that is not necessarily good news. “Teenagers have flocked to e-cigarettes, and when combined with use of traditional cigarettes, the use of nicotine among teenagers may have actually increased,” said Dr. Indra Cidambi, a nationally recognized Addiction Expert and Medical Director of New Jersey-based outpatient detox facility Center for Network Therapy. For example, in New Jersey, teenage smoking rate dropped from 14.3% in 2010 to 8.2% in 2014. However, one in eight (12%) teenagers had tried e-cigarettes at least once, and a similar number had tried hookah. The rapid adoption of e-cigarettes by the youth of our country has been driven, at least partially, by the exponential jump in the potency of e-liquids (nicotine + marijuana) used in vapes.

“This trend is dangerous. Vaping devices are already being used to deliver marijuana and could be leveraged to deliver even more potent drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, down the road,” added Dr. Cidambi.

An e-cigarette is an electronic device that simulates the feeling of smoking tobacco. It works by heating a liquid to generate an aerosol, commonly called "vapor," that the user inhales. The use of e-cigarettes is more commonly called vaping. The liquid in the e-cigarette is called e-liquid.

“Nicotine is addictive, as it increases the level of dopamine in the brain and primes the reward pathways for other drugs,” said Dr. Cidambi. “This is a big concern because eventually these teenagers will develop tolerance to nicotine and will need more potent stimulants to release increased amounts of dopamine to get the same effect,” added Dr. Cidambi. Already vaping products like JUUL contain nearly 50mg of nicotine per ml of liquid (a cigarette has about 12mg of nicotine).

As a result of the huge uptake of vaping among teenagers, innocuous looking delivery devices are already in place and they could eventually be leveraged to deliver more potent drugs. Some e-cigarettes look like USB drives and parents are not even aware that their child is using nicotine. “As per a study*, 25% of teenagers who used e-cigarettes progressed to smoking pot (marijuana) as compared to one in eight (12.5%) of teenagers who did not use e-cigarettes,” added Dr. Cidambi. THC content in liquid concentrates, used in vapes, can range between 50 and 90%, as compared to 20% in marijuana. “Vaping high-concentration THC can deliver a more intense high, but can also lead to addiction. Further down the road, liquid concentrates of other illicit substances such as heroin or cocaine could easily be substituted in the vaping device and lead to increased rates of addiction,” said Dr. Cidambi.

“Consider this – heroin users have been ‘vaping’ heroin for decades by using high heat (heating it in a metal foil and inhaling the vapors), not with the help of a low-heat device like an e-cigarette,” said Dr. Cidambi. Inhaling is a preferred method of drug delivery as the drug hits the brain almost as fast as injecting the drug. “Methamphetamine, due to its low boiling point, is more “vape friendly,” but heroin and cocaine in their most common crystal form cannot be used in vaping devices, as they are not capable to delivering high-heat,” added Dr. Cidambi. Tight crystal structures in heroin and cocaine bind molecules strongly**, and they may need to be mixed with weak alkalis to create freebases that could be used in vaping devices. Anecdotal evidence suggests some synthetic drugs, like flakka, are already being vaped, and it is inevitable that high-potency drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, will eventually be sold as “vapable” liquids. “That is when the real danger of the vaping trend we are witnessing will hit home,” warned Dr. Cidambi.

The vaping trend has gone unchallenged, but a concerted response is called for in order to curb the use of e-cigarettes among teenagers. As a country, we need to address the vaping epidemic right now. The state of New Jersey, for example, raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 in 2017 and some municipalities have required e-cigarette vendors to be licensed.

*Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO.
**Global Drug Survey

For more information on substance abuse dependency, addiction and treatment please go to http://www.RecoveryCNT.com.

About Dr. Indra Cidambi
Indra Cidambi, M.D., Medical Director, Center for Network Therapy, is recognized as a leading expert and pioneer in the field of Addiction Medicine. Under her leadership the Center for Network Therapy started New Jersey’s first state licensed Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification program for all substances nearly three years ago. Dr. Cidambi is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and double Board Certified in Addiction Medicine (ABAM, ABPN). She is the Vice President of the New Jersey Society of Addiction Medicine. She is fluent in five languages, including Russian.

About Center for Network Therapy
Center for Network Therapy (CNT) was the first facility in New Jersey to be licensed to provide Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification Services for all substances of abuse – alcohol, anesthetics, benzodiazepines, opiates and other substances of abuse. Led by a Board Certified Addiction Psychiatrist, Indra Cidambi, M.D., experienced physicians and nurses closely monitor each patient’s progress. With CNT’s superior client care and high quality treatment, Dr. Cidambi and her clinical team have successfully detoxed over 1500 patients in five years. CNT also offers Partial Care and IOP programs.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Marisa Amador
Rubenstein Public Relations
+1 212-805-3029
Email >
Visit website