Vaping: Are They Just Blowing Smoke?

There has been a lot of conversation in recent months about vaping and its impact on health.

What is really in the vape liquid? Usually this liquid contains various milligrams of nicotine. It’s important to note that while nicotine is an addictive substance, it is noncancerous.

Flavoring is a common ingredient in vape liquids. It is FDA-approved for food and drink consumption, but the dangers of inhaling this flavoring are unknown. Propylene glycol (PG) is also an element of vape liquid that is FDA-approved for artificial smoke or fog at concerts. However, PG may cause lung and eye irritation and is harmful for people who are living with asthma or emphysema. Glycerin is another ingredient that is FDA-approved for food and drink consumption but not for inhalation. When glycerin is heated, a substance called acrolein is formed. Acrolein has been linked to the development of heart disease. Vape liquid also contains formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, both of which are possible carcinogens. Additionally, toxic metals such as tin, nickel, cadmium, lead, and mercury have been found in vape smoke.

How does vape liquid affect the body? Nicotine causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries, which makes it more difficult for blood flow to reach vital organs. For people who have asthma, this condition can worsen to the point of causing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. Our brains are not fully developed until the age of 25, meaning nicotine use in adolescence and young adulthood can negatively impact brain growth. This can cause people to experience impaired learning and thinking, which can be linked to depression and schizophrenia. Nicotine can also weaken the immune system, which makes it harder to fight off germs.

Vaping is less hazardous than regular cigarettes and gives off less secondhand smoke. However, according to the research, vaping is by no means a safe alternative.

About Marissa Hatcher, MSW, CADC

“I am passionate about my work at Timberline because I believe recovery is possible with help from others. We provide 12-step principles, DBT, spirituality, expression, and family therapy while being trauma aware.”

Marissa facilitates psycho-educational group therapy, completes substance use assessments, and takes on the leadership role of the Addictions Specialist team. She also individually meets with residents to support a better understanding and application of 12 step. Marissa is a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Provider, receiving her certification in 2016. Prior to joining Timberline Knolls, Marissa worked in outpatient substance treatment with clients who were reentering the community from incarceration.

Marissa received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Communications and her Master’s Degree in Social Work specializing in Substance Counseling from Aurora University.

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