Rehab 4 Addiction

Vaping cannabis is on the rise, with 53% of cannabis users now admitting that vaping is their method of choice [1].

However, the health issues and long term effects associated with vaping cannabis are still up for debate.

There are now many studies researching the long term effects of cannabis vaporisation, with multiple studies now indicating the link between an increase in vaporising cannabis and an outbreak of severe lung diseases across the west.

This is coupled with the recent change in laws surrounding cannabis abuse in countries such as America.

Cannabis, which was once defined as the ‘gateway drug’ to other more severe and harmful drugs, is now being considered a lot less harmful, with possible health benefits.

However, there is no doubting the negative and worrying long term effects of cannabis abuse.

Cannabis is consumed in three main ways which include smoking, eating and vaping the drug. It contains a chemical called THC which is what gives its users the ‘high’ sensation.

If you are worried about your addiction to vaping cannabis or are worried about someone else, then it is time to get in touch with a member of the team at Rehab 4 Addiction.

Our friendly team are able to help support and guide you when it comes to your addiction and treatment needs.

Get in touch today by calling our team of professional advisors on 0800 140 4690 or by visiting us online

cannabis plant

What Exactly Is THC?

THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol which is the main chemical ingredient found in cannabis. It is the chemical responsible for the ‘high’ sensation many people feel after consuming the drug.

THC targets the cannabinoid receptors located in the brain, which are mainly responsible for your ability to think, remember things, experience pleasure, coordinate your body and perceive time.

Once the THC chemical targets these receptors, it can take over the mind and body. Excessive use can have a long term impact on these aspects of the brain.

Cannabis leaf

The Health Risks Associated with Vaping Cannabis

Many studies have now suggested that there are health risks associated with vaping cannabis.

However, there is also the argument that vaporised cannabis actually contains less harmful chemicals than smoking cannabis does.

Therefore, some argue that vaping cannabis is the healthier way to consume cannabis [2].

Nevertheless, many vaping tools such as vaping pens means that individuals are able to use higher strength cannabis, which results in many more physical health issues. This would result in an increased risk of developing paranoia, anxiety and psychosis [3].

A big issue with consuming vaporised cannabis is the ability and popularity of adding flavours to the mix.

In fact, vaping flavoured cannabis might mean that you are consuming carcinogenic chemicals which can be detrimental to your health, in particular your lungs [4].

These chemicals irritate the tissues and sacs that surround and protect the lungs.

Flavoured cannabis might also contain toxic chemicals such as carbonyls, nitrosamines and other heavy metals which can cause a huge health risk [5].

In addition to the risk that these chemicals pose to your health, vaping devices and products also pose a threat of their own.

For example, some vaping devices, such as pens have been known to malfunction in the past. This can often result in them exploding, with reports of people getting injured from their vaping devices on the rise [6].

Additionally, there are no reported cases of children accidentally picking up and consuming a vaping product thinking that they were a toy. 

This is because a lot of the vaping products, often flavoured, are displayed in bright, colourful and child attracting packaging and designs.

Harmful Ingredients

Vaporised cannabis contains many other harmful ingredients than just THC. This is because the regulation surrounding ingredient lists in most vaping products simply aren’t related enough.

This means that a lot of people actually have no idea exactly what ingredients they are vaping and the harm that these ingredients can do.

The full extent of the harmful ingredients often found in vaping pods and cartridges is yet unknown.

However, below is a list of some very common harmful ingredients that are frequently found in vaping products, cartridges, and pods.

Carcinogenic Substances

Many vaping products unfortunately contain carcinogenic compounds. Carcinogenic substances are believed to cause cancer when they are heated up.

Considering you are inhaling these substances into your lungs, this could potentially present a risk of lung cancer.

Chemical Flavours

Many vaping products allow individuals to add flavoured pods. Unfortunately, a lot of these flavours contain chemicals such as diacetyl which has been known to potentially pose a health threat, particularly if heated.

These could lead to long term health conditions surrounding the lung [7].

Heavy Metals

In many vaping devices and products, there are little metal loops lining the inside of the product that is used to heat the liquid. Unfortunately, in order to keep costs down, a lot of these products are made from cheap metals.

Over time, these metals break down and enter the liquid which you are inhaling [8].

Atmospheric Aerosol Particles

In addition to metals entering the vapour, there are also some very fine particles found in the liquid that you are inhaling when consuming cannabis. 

These are also often found in e-cigarettes, and other products that are battery-powered or that have refillable cartridges or ink pods.

Unfortunately, when these particles are inhaled they end up staying in the lungs for a long period of time and can cause significant health problems [9].

A lot of the health issues and risks associated with vaping cannabis concern the lungs.

Signs & Symptoms of a Lung Injury 

Considering vaping cannabis can cause some serious long-term effects on the lungs, it is important to know what to look out for when it comes to a life-threatening lung condition to treatment that might need treatment.

The signs and symptoms of a lung injury include:

  • A continuous cough
  • Feeling frequently out of breath
  • Experiencing chest pains
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling and being sick
  • Experiencing fevers and chills
  • Losing weight
  • Pains in your abdomen and stomach

It’s important to remember that any cigarettes or drugs consumed via smoking put you at a greater risk of experiencing any one of the above symptoms, as well as putting you at a greater risk of developing lung cancer as well as lung and heart disease [10].

What’s the difference between smoking and vaping?

When it comes to the difference between smoking and vaping, it’s important to understand that there are clear differences. For example, some of these differences are listed below.

1. Smoking tends to involve dried products

Smoking tends to involve a lot of dried plants, flowers or products which are then rolled into a cigarette or ‘joint.’

2. Vaping tends to use concentrated extracts

Unlike when it comes to smoking, vaping often involves more concentrated and potent products.

This means that individuals experience more of a ‘high’ but will also experience a stronger ‘come down afterwards. They will also experience worse side effects and more severe health concerns.

3. They equally take effect quickly

When it comes to how quickly individuals experience and feel ‘high’ both vaping and smoking work equally as quickly. Sometimes, both can take effect as quickly as 15 minutes.

smoking cannabis

Vaping is Addictive

It is also important for people to understand just how addictive vaping can be. Therefore, it could also lead to a dependence on other more harmful, more addictive substances such as heroin, cocaine or tobacco.

This in turn will lead to more health concerns and issues later down the line. This is increasingly worrying as more and more teenagers and young adults are vaping.

How to Talk to Teens About Vaping 

If you are worried about your teenager or child vaping, then it’s important that you start the conversation early on. You should not aim to approach the situation in a negative, confrontational, or preachy way, as this will only push your teenager or child further away from you.

You should aim to first bring up the conversation and issue in passing, for example, you could explain that you read an article or listened to a podcast on the health risks associated with vaping.

By mentioning the issue in passing in this way, your teenager or child is much more likely to listen to what you are saying without feeling like they are on the defensive.

If this doesn’t work, then try to sit down with your child in a calm environment and explain the health risks associated with vaping and why you are concerned about their use.

If they continue to vape, then you could try to speak to a local charity or healthcare provider in the hope that they will be able to get through to them.

Alternative Ways to Consume Cannabis that are a Little Healthier

When it comes to consuming cannabis, there are always going to be health risks involved.

Therefore, both smoking and vaping cannabis can cause many serious and long term health conditions, including lung disease and cancer.

Whilst consuming most forms of cannabis will cause future harm to your body, there are less dangerous ways of consuming the drug.

Below is a list of some alternative ways you can consume cannabis that might be less harmful to your lungs than vaping cannabis.

Suppositories

Some individuals opt to consume their cannabis via a suppository. This can be used to treat any medical conditions such as digestive issues, period pains or in some cases, endometriosis.

By consuming cannabis in this way, you will not experience any of the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

Tinctures

Cannabis tinctures are alcohol-based cannabis extracts that can be consumed orally. They are often mixed with CBD oil and can be consumed by dropping a certain amount of the product under the tongue.

Edibles

Cannabis oil can be mixed into baking recipes which can then be consumed. You can use cannabis oil to make things like biscuits, cookies, muffins, doughnuts and coffee.

As you are consuming cannabis orally, there is no risk to your lungs. However, it can take a little longer than smoking to feel the effects of taking cannabis in this way.

This, unfortunately, poses a threat, as many people tend to consume more cannabis than needed as they are yet to feel any effects until it’s too late.

Sublinguals

Sublinguals include things like strips, films, tablets to lay on the tongue or even mouth sprays.

They are becoming an increasingly popular way to consume cannabis and users can feel its effect just as quickly as smoking cannabis. Luckily, they do not have a strong taste.

They are growing particularly popular as they are increasingly easier to hide.

Therefore, many adolescents and teenagers are now consuming cannabis in this way as an attempt to hide their use from their parents or guardians.

cannabis plant

The Conclusion

It is true that more research is needed surrounding the health risks associated with vaping cannabis.

However, with vaping cannabis on a rise, the current known health risks and associated risks with vaping cannabis cannot be ignored.

It is well researched that vaping cannabis can lead to significant health concerns including an increased chance of developing psychosis, schizophrenia, anxiety, paranoia, lung disease and lung cancer.

With more and more young people and adolescents consuming cannabis and choosing vaping as their method of choice, more research and education is needed at home and in schools to educate our young ones on the dangers of vaping cannabis.

There is a big difference between smoking and vaping cannabis, that a lot of young adults and adolescents are possibly unaware of.

It is also important to note how addictive vaping is, and the risk this might lead to its users then opting to smoke cigarettes and potentially other more harmful drugs in the future.

family

Get in Touch with Rehab 4 Addiction

If you are worried about your addiction to vaping cannabis, or are concerned for a loved one, then you should speak to a member of our team at Rehab 4 Addiction today.

Our friendly team will be able to guide you on the dangers of vaping cannabis, as well as provide you with the insight and knowledge and how to treat your addiction and stop vaping cannabis for good.

Whether you need rehab, an intervention, aftercare or outpatient therapy, our team is able to help create a personalised treatment plan for your addiction needs.

References

[1] Shiplo S, Asbridge M, Leatherdale ST, Hammond D. Medical cannabis use in Canada: Vapourization and modes of delivery. Harm Reduct J. 2016 Oct;13(1):30. doi:10.1186/s12954-016-0119-9)

[2] Loflin  M, Earleywine  M. No smoke, no fire: What the initial literature suggests regarding vapourized cannabis and respiratory risk. Can J Respir Ther 2015;51(1):7–9)

[3] Prince  MA, Conner  BT. Examining links between cannabis potency and mental and physical health outcomes. Behav Res Ther 2019;115:111–20).

[4] Civiletto  CW, Aslam  S, Hutchison  J. Electronic Delivery (Vaping) Of Cannabis And Nicotine, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545160/ (Accessed August 20, 2019).

[5] Goniewicz ML, Knysak  J, Gawron  M, et al.  Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapour from electronic cigarettes. Tob Control 2014;23(2):133–9

[6] Whitehill JM, Harrington  C, Lang  CJ, Chary  M, Bhutta  WA, Burns  MM. Incidence of Pediatric cannabis exposure among children and teenagers aged 0 to 19 years before and after medical marijuana legalization in Massachusetts.

[7] United States Department of Labor. Flavorings-related lung disease)

[8[ Lerner CA, Sundar IK, Watson RM, et al. Environmental health hazards of e-cigarettes and their components: Oxidants and copper in e-cigarette aerosols. Environ Pollut. 2015;198:100-7. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2014.12.033)

[9] Eaton DL, Kwan LY, Stratton K. (Editors). Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes. National Academies Press; 2018).

[10] American Cancer Society. What do we know about E-cigarettes?

 

boris

Boris is our editor-in-chief at Rehab 4 Addiction. Boris is an addiction expert with more than 20 years in the field.  His expertise covers a broad of topics relating to addiction, rehab and recovery. Boris is an addiction therapist and assists in the alcohol detox and rehab process. Boris has been featured on a variety of websites, including the BBC, Verywell Mind and Healthline.