The Startling Truth Behind the Vaping Marijuana Trend
Vaping marijuana is becoming increasingly popular, with 6% of individuals with electronic cigarettes reporting using them to vape cannabis. The Department of Health and Human Services recently published a study that found 37% of cannabis users had vaped in the last 30 days, and 12% preferred vaping marijuana to other forms of consumption. Regular vaporizer users tend to be young, white males who started using marijuana at an early age and prefer vaping partly because they believe it to be healthier and less addictive. They couldn’t be more wrong. Emerging research has revealed the shocking hidden dangers of vaping marijuana that everyone should know about.
The Vaping Marijuana Trend
Vaping is short for vaporizing, the process of heating cannabis products (whole plants, and oil or liquid concentrates) to a temperature that causes the release of what seems to be water vapor, but is actually an aerosol of fine particles, which are then inhaled by the user. This vapor-like aerosol can be produced by a range of vaporizing devices, including MODS (advanced personal vaporizers), vape pens that look like large fountain pens, and e-cigarettes that can also be used to smoke tobacco products. The “vapor” inhaled is almost completely tasteless and odorless, although some individuals like to use flavored and scented products to alter the experience.
The e-liquid sold for most vaporizing devices contains vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol mixed with flavoring, nicotine, and other chemicals and metals. This liquid comes in a cartridge that is inserted into a battery-powered device with a heating component and a mouthpiece for inhaling. Users who smoke cannabis oil in electronic cigarettes or vape pens can get very high, very quickly, in a public place—meanwhile claiming that they’re just inhaling flavoring, which is all that 66% of young e-cigarette users do.
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The Respiratory Effects of Smoking Marijuana
More and more cannabis users who are concerned about the effect that pot is having on their lungs are switching to vaping marijuana. Marijuana smoke contains a range of tumor promoters, carcinogens, and general bronchial irritants that are similar to the chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Inhaled smoke must pass through the lungs before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream, so naturally these harmful chemicals have a harsh effect on the respiratory system. In addition, the negative effects of marijuana smoke are intensified by the fact that pot smokers inhale more deeply, at a higher combustion temperature, and smoke down to a small butt that is unfiltered. The outcome is a lungful of three times as much tar, five times as much carbon monoxide, as well as higher levels of hydrogen cyanide and ammonia.
The Number One Misconception About Vaping Marijuana
Hoping to avoid the damaging health effects of marijuana smoke, many regular cannabis users turn to vaporizers, which produce lower levels of tar than marijuana cigarettes, and for some users, create fewer problematic respiratory symptoms. However, the American Thoracic Society warns that none of the current delivery methods can protect you from the harmful side effects of marijuana smoke, and no method of inhalation should be considered safe.
Recent studies have made discoveries that back this warning up. Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that e-cigarette liquids contain dangerously high levels of toxic and carcinogenic metals, such as nickel, manganese, lead, chromium, and cadmium. They believe that the primary source of these metals is the coil that heats up the liquid, thereby creating the aerosol that most people erroneously refer to as vapor. In some devices, where the liquid is stored inside a cartridge with the coil, the level of metals inhaled is amplified due to the liquid’s extended exposure to the metal of the coil.
But that isn’t the only risk. Because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, there are no FDA standards for the butane hash oil, used in most vape pens on the market. This butane hash oil is made by first stuffing PVC pipes or steel tubes with marijuana that has been deemed too weak, too visually unappealing, or too moldy to sell as is; then attaching a filter to one end of the pipe or tube, then pouring lighter fluid over the plant matter to extract the THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s mind-altering effects. The slimy, bubbling oil that results is then somewhat purified, usually by being soaked in ethanol, or put into a vacuum oven that extracts most, but not all, of the residual butane. The end result is a substance that can be soft with a fudgy texture, clumpy and powdery, waxy and yellow, or brittle and glass-like.
And what about the chemicals that were on that sub-par pot before it got stuffed into a steel tube and soaked in lighter fluid? Farmers use chemicals to kill mold, mildew and mites, as well as chemicals to make the buds denser. These plant growth regulators and pesticides are on the pot you smoke as well, but vaping marijuana means inhaling much higher concentrations of the toxic chemicals via the highly concentrated cannabis oil.
Both nicotine and hash oil for vape pens contain polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol, which can worsen allergies and asthma, and which break down into acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, two known carcinogens. The hotter the liquid inside your vape pen gets, the more carcinogens are aerosolized for you to inhale. In addition, vaporizers of all kinds release ammonia, which can cause mouth, throat, and respiratory irritation, bronchial spasms and asthma, as well as central nervous system effects including impaired cognitive function (memory problems, learning difficulty, poor concentration, brain fog), seizures, and coma.
Can vaping marijuana lead to addiction?
Many people believe that marijuana is not addictive; they couldn’t be more wrong. Approximately 30% of marijuana users have a marijuana use disorder—in fact, it was estimated that in 2015, four million Americans were addicted to marijuana. Individuals who start using marijuana as teenagers are between four and seven times more vulnerable to becoming addicted, meaning they cannot make themselves stop using the drug despite the negative effects it has on many different areas of their lives. They also experience withdrawal symptoms when cutting down or quitting. These symptoms most commonly include physical discomfort, restlessness, cravings, loss of appetite, mood swings, sleep difficulties, irritability and hostility.
Clearly, marijuana is addictive, and vaping marijuana is even more so. This is for various physical, psychological, and circumstantial reasons. First of all, the discreteness and ability to use vaporizers in more places can lead to more frequent use, making users more susceptible to addiction. This discretion may also lead more people to try marijuana at an earlier age, which increases their chance of addiction. In addition, the amount of THC inhaled with a vape pen is much stronger than other forms of consumption.
The marijuana plant contains up to 20% THC, while concentrated hash oil contains up to 90% THC. With no way of knowing how much THC will be in each hit, a person could pass out after a single inhale when vaping marijuana. Furthermore, such a high concentration of the psychoactive element of cannabis will naturally increase your chances of both physical and psychological addiction.
Quitting Marijuana: Why You Should
Whether you vape the drug or not, extensive research proves that in addition to the respiratory effects, marijuana causes cognitive effects that have a negative impact on learning, attention, and memory that persists for days, or even weeks, after the high has worn off. This means that a person who smokes marijuana every day will have reduced cognitive functioning at all times. It should therefore be no surprise that students who regularly use marijuana are significantly less likely to obtain a degree, or even to finish high school. They also have lower satisfaction with their lives, and a higher rate of suicide. Many studies have also shown a link between heavy marijuana use and lower income, increased criminal behavior, unemployment, and welfare dependence.
Although no study can be controlled enough to prove a direct, one to one link between marijuana and negative life outcomes, the correlation is too strong to ignore. In one study, heavy marijuana users even self-reported that marijuana had a negative effect on their physical and mental health, social lives, career achievements, and cognitive abilities. Additional studies have linked marijuana use to adverse workplace consequences, such as greater absenteeism, and more injuries and accidents. Basically, research has indicated that marijuana damages your wellbeing in every area of life, while quitting marijuana will improve it, and the best way to free yourself from marijuana addiction is through professional addiction treatment.
Quitting Marijuana with Professional Help
Most adults who seek professional help for quitting marijuana have used marijuana daily for over ten years and have tried to quit at least six times before. If you suffer from marijuana use disorder, there is a strong chance that you also suffer from a mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression. You need to simultaneously receive treatment for your mental health issues, as well as addiction treatments such as marijuana detox, cognitive behavioral therapy, and contingency management, in order to successfully achieve recovery from marijuana addiction.
Although there are no medications that have been FDA-approved for marijuana use disorder, there are medications that rehab facilities can use to assist you through the process of quitting marijuana. Because sleep difficulties and anxiety are common during withdrawal, sleep aids and anti-anxiety medications can be used during marijuana detox. Small clinical trials have shown positive outcomes in using the anti-epileptic drug gabapentin, which can improve sleep, and possibly executive function as well, which would help counteract the negative cognitive effects of marijuana.
What to Expect During Marijuana Detox
Although the withdrawal symptoms associated with marijuana detox are rarely dangerous, they can be very unpleasant, making you vulnerable to relapse while quitting marijuana. For this reason, and many others, it is best to undergo your marijuana detox at a qualified rehab facility. Most withdrawal symptoms start between 24 to 48 hours after your last dose, peak within four to six days, and will usually continue for one to two weeks, although some symptoms can persist for months afterwards—another reason that professional treatment is crucial.
The most common symptoms experienced during marijuana detox include:
- Drug cravings
- Shaking and tremors
- Abdominal pain
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Strange, vivid dreams
For most people experiencing marijuana detox, stress and anxiety are the most difficult symptoms. Not only is the experience difficult to contend with, your awareness of the calming effects of marijuana can greatly intensify drug cravings. Taking the time to find a quality marijuana detox center that can help you cope—hopefully while you also take some time away from work and home responsibilities to focus on healing—can make a huge difference to your recovery, keeping you strong and healthy while preventing relapse.
Finding a Marijuana Detox Center
Quitting marijuana is an important part of improving your health and building a better life; it makes sense to seek professional help to improve your chances of success, and to make sure you don’t have to go it alone. There are quality marijuana detox centers available across the United States, with a range of treatment approaches and payment options, including insurance accepted and low-cost programs. Visit https://www.detox.com/local/, and let us connect you to the ideal facility for your experience, goals, and life situation.
If you want to sort through your choices on your own first, you can simply click on your state, then your city, to discover a list of nearby marijuana detox and treatment centers. If you would rather have an expert guide you through your choices, contact us via live chat, or call 800-483-2193. Our treatment advisors are available 24/7 for a compassionate, confidential consultation. We can tell you about the many excellent facilities available to help you begin the exciting, whole-life transformation you need to promote your best health and happiness.