Each of these routes of ingestion offers its own unique risks and long-term consequences, and the emerging trend of vaping meth (as well as a number of other illicit drugs) is no exception.
Vaping refers to when a person inhales vapors generated by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette or e-cig) or another vaping device. This vapor comes from cartridges filled with a vape liquid (e-juice or e-liquid) laced with nicotine (the active ingredient in tobacco), propylene glycol, and flavoring.
Vape pens are an especially popular cigarette product among young people in the United States, with the marketing for certain vape products seeming to target high-schoolers and even those who are younger.
Is Vaping Dangerous?
While vaping is considered to be less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, medical professionals are quick to point out that it is far from harmless.
Heavy vape use has been linked to a number of severe lung injuries and even deaths. More study is needed to fully understand the varied effects that vaping has on the body over time.
Many in the United States have used vaping as a stepping stone as they work away from smoking cigarettes. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declined to endorse e-cigs or vapes as quit devices, instead citing only potential harm-reduction.
And many, especially teenagers, have reportedly been introduced to smoking and other drug use through the use of vapes.
Nicotine delivery systems like vape pens and e-cigs are not produced with the intention of being used to administer illicit substances like methamphetamine.
But, in the same way that tobacco can be both smoked and vaped, methamphetamine and many other illicit drugs can be taken using these devices with very little modification.
Meth needs only to be ground down, dissolved into vape liquid, and vaped, delivering a dose of the drug into the body through the lungs. And, in recent years, there have been a number of incidents reported in which high school students and others have done just this.
Effects Of Vaping Meth
When vaped, a specific dose of meth will have the same short-term effects as when it is taken by any other means. The drug is absorbed into the blood and transported to the brain, where it interacts with a person’s neurochemistry and increases central nervous system stimulation.
This triggers a pleasurable and addictive release of dopamine as well as significant increases in heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and energy level.
Risks Of Vaping Meth
While the long-term risks of vaping nicotine may not be fully understood, the effects of chronically abusing crystal meth are well documented. Using meth through inhalation, with or without the presence of nicotine, will not mitigate the consequences of methamphetamine abuse.
The risks of vaping meth can include:
- drug dependence and addiction
- lasting sleep disorders
- increased risk of mental health disorders including anxiety, paranoia, and depression
- personality and behavioral changes
- brain damage, hallucinations, and/or psychosis
- tooth and gum damage
- skin and organ damage
- premature aging
- malnutrition and unhealthy weight loss
Inhaling methamphetamine-laced aerosols may also severely irritate the lungs, leading to long-term lung injuries and, potentially, severe breathing problems or other poorly understood health effects.
Vaping Other Illicit Drugs
Law enforcement agencies across the nation have identified a variety of different types of illicit drugs mixed with vape liquid. These include:
- MDMA (ecstasy)
- opioids, including fentanyl
- marijuana (THC/CBD)
It’s important to note that drugs taken using a vape pen need to be at least somewhat water-soluble, preventing certain hydrophobic illicit drug formulations (like crack cocaine) from being vaped effectively.
Treating Methamphetamine Abuse
Unfortunately, the widespread use of vapes and e-cigs does appear to expose many individuals to substance abuse who might otherwise never try hard drugs like methamphetamine.
If you suspect that a loved one is developing an addiction to meth or any other illicit substance, please contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine — 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine misuse?
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — FDA Permits Marketing of E-Cigarette Products, Marking First Authorization of Its Kind by the Agency
- Virginia Commonwealth University — Shedding light on a vaping trend: Researchers study the use of e-cigarettes for illicit drugs
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.