THE EDITOR: The United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is being observed tomorrow to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs has on society. The theme, repeated from last year, is “Listen First – Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe.”
Rescue Mission, a non-profit, charitable organisation, as part of its mission to help recovering substance and alcohol abusers and to provide counselling, has submitted this article to warn parents about the harmful effects of vaping on youths:
The old saying that “When America sneeze, Trinidad catch the cold” has been proven time and time again to be true. The overwhelming use of vaping devices among youth in the US and other parts of the world is a warning for parents in TT to be vigilant in protecting their teenagers against the many harms related to the use and abuse of these devices.
Vaping can be defined as an activity where vapour produced by an electronic device such as e-cigarette or vaporiser is inhaled. Many youths believe that e-cigarettes and vape aerosols are harmless water vapour, but this is far from the truth.
Research has shown that there are far greater health risks for youth users of these devices than people think. These risks are not limited to nicotine addiction but also include increased chances for lung cancer, asthma, anxiety, seizures, and damage to the development of their brains.
Parents need to have conversations with their children about the risks of vaping and the importance of avoiding those risks. Parents also need to take the time to listen to their children’s views on this topic, because it is only through listening would they have a true understanding of the challenges their children are facing and be able to properly support them.
While we hope that conversations would discourage adolescents from vaping, we know that some youths will still take part in this practice. The challenge with this is that it’s difficult to know that your child is vaping because the vapour dissolves quickly and doesn’t leave any residue.
One of the ways parents can be proactive in determining if their child is vaping is to enquire about unfamiliar USB chargers, battery chargers, or spare parts. Vaping devices have spare parts such as spare wires, cotton balls, small containers or pods that contain e-juice. If parents notice unfamiliar tech-looking devices or see interesting items in their bins, it’s a good practice to ask about them.
We all have a responsibility to ensure our children are safe and healthy. We can fulfil that mandate by taking steps to be proactive in the fight against drug use and drug abuse by listening to our children, knowing the harmful effects that vaping has on youths and being able to detect signs that our children may be using vaping devices.
AKEELA N MARIN, Rescue Mission