Will The Latest E-Cig Death Start To Change How We Think About Vaping?

Will The Latest E-Cig Death Start To Change How We Think About Vaping?

Two people have died from exploding e-cigs and teens are getting hooked at an alarming rate....but they're still unregulated in most of the United States.

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An exploding e-cigarette just took the life of a young man in Texas, reigniting a years-long discussion about vaping safety. News outlets say William Brown was in the parking lot of a vape and smoke shop on January 27th when his e-cigarette exploded, shot through his neck, and tore his left carotid artery. He was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically-induced coma, where he died two days later. X-rays following the explosion showed a piece of the e-cigarette lodged in his throat. Brown was just weeks away from his 25th birthday when he died.

Investigators say the vape pens' battery caused the explosion. The battery inside e-cigarettes heats a liquid nicotine solution to create an aerosol that's inhaled like cigarettes. E-cigarette explosion lawyers say these batteries are known to explode and cause fire and serious injuries. More than 120 lawsuits have been filed so far, and that number is growing with each new product that hits the market.

Juuls are changing the scene around young people, as they're starting to become as commonplace as cell phones. They're small, flavorful, and look like a USB drive - making them very easy to hide in plain sight. If you haven't tried a Juul, I bet at least one of your friends has. And I bet at least one of their friends keeps a Juul in their pocket all the time.

Juuls were the subject of a class-action lawsuit in Philadelphia last year after many users said the marketing team lied about the amount of nicotine in their products. Juuls have been the subject of a lot of scrutinies recently, largely because much of their marketing has been directed to teens. Like most e-cigarettes, the nicotine solutions come in a variety of flavors that appeal to young people. We've all been walking down the street and walked through a cloud of cotton candy or tropical-scented vapor, only to realize the smell came from someone puffing an e-cig on the sidewalk. But the prevalence of these devices, and the multitude of studies both proving and disproving that they're better for you than cigarettes has put vaping at the forefront of the public eye.

According to his grandmother, Brown suffered from asthma problems and had been encouraged to try vaping by one of his friends. The friend told him it would help him breathe better. This is just one of the many misconceptions being circulated about e-cigarettes, which could explain why they've become so popular among young people in the United States. Last year the FDA declared teen e-cigarette use an epidemic, citing "almost ubiquitous - and dangerous - trend among teenagers". Data from November 2018 showed a 78% increase in the number of high school students who reported vaping in the past month, as compared to the previous year. Those numbers represented more than 3 million American high school students, more than 20% of the population. The study also included nearly 600,000 middle school students who had used the nicotine products.

In an effort to reverse the trend, the administration pulled flavored e-cigarette juice from convenience store shelves across the U.S. The change meant that all flavors other than menthol, mint, and tobacco could only be sold at age-restricted online retailers and smoke shops.

Research is inconclusive about the long term health effects of vaping. Some, including many of the e-cigarette companies themselves, argue their products are a less harmful way to address nicotine cravings in adults. They were first marketed as a weaning device for long-term smokers. However, the ease and prevalence of e-cigarettes have many concerned about making it easier for the next generation to form a nicotine addiction. Before the FDA began to intervene there were very few federal regulations limiting e-cigarettes. There are still very few regulations in place about the physical safety of the devices. But as more people suffer severe and fatal injuries after exploding batteries, there is a growing public concern.

Brown's death was not the first linked to an exploding vaporizer. Last May, a man in St. Petersburg, Florida became the first man to die from an e-cigarette explosion when pieces of his vape shot through his skull. Between 2009 and 2016, there were 195 separate e-cigarette fire and explosion accidents in the United States. In comparison, the lithium-ion batteries in hoverboards had sparked 99 fires as of 2016, resulting in a massive recall of nearly 500,000 products. It's now very clear that there's a problem with e-cigarettes, leaving many to wonder how many people will need to get hurt before changes are made in the industry.

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Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease

Let me take you into a cancer ward, then try telling me you also have a disease.
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Drug addiction has increasingly become more problematic over the last few years, with the opioid epidemic tearing apart families and leaving communities vulnerable to drug dealers and violence. Addiction treatment has become more widely available, and the stereotypes surrounding addicts have definitely changed.

SEE ALSO: Accepting Addiction As A Disease Isn't Enabling Addicts, It's Helping Them

However, one thing remains constant, and that is addicts and enablers labeling drug addiction as a disease.

Addiction changes the brain in fundamental ways. It changes the normal hierarchy in a person's brain and then substitutes their needs and priorities for whatever said addictive is (in this case, we're focusing on drugs). When a person does a drug, they release dopamine, which causes the body to crave the substance more, and eventually alters the way the brain reacts to these chemicals. The reason that drug addictions are called "diseases" is that since the brain has become altered from drugs, the resulting compulsive behavior overrides the ability to control impulses, therefore making it a "relapsing disease."

You chose this.

You chose to smoke the weed.

You chose to shoot up heroin.

You chose to snort cocaine.

You chose to buy prescription pills that you did not need.

You chose this.

I can't express how much it infuriates me when drug addicts have the audacity to play the "oh poor me" role, blaming their choices on a disease that they brought on themselves. That child in the cancer ward didn't choose to do something that brought on their cancer, that woman with cystic fibrosis didn't do something to bring it upon herself.

Every drug addict made a choice, so don't tell me you have a disease all because you chose to do something you knew wasn't right. Could you really look a child stricken with cancer in the eyes and tell them you also have a disease, that you're also sick, but that unlike them, you made choices that led you to where you are, while they didn't? Take some personal responsibility and own up to it, but don't you dare go around telling people you have this so called disease that YOU created.

I've seen firsthand what addiction can do, who it hurts and how it destroys. I've watched enablers cosset the addict, consistently making up excuses as to why that person is an addict, why they can't quit, and best of all; why they have a disease and should be treated as such. But enablers are not the problem, it's the manipulator –– who is the drug addict.

They manipulate others to believe their lies, to believe that they are actually diseased and therefore can not quit because it’s a sickness. Have we, as a society, become so blatantly oblivious to basic manipulation tactics that we fail to see that drug addicts have made this "disease" for themselves as a means to escape personal responsibility?

SEE ALSO: I'll Stop Calling Addiction A Disease When It Stops Actually Being One

The reason this bothers me so much isn't because I watch these addicts throw away their life, while someone is sitting in a hospital bed clinging onto their last breath, wishing that just for a moment they were healthy, that they didn't have to face the chances that they would be dead within months. It bothers me because of the label we have given to addicts. This label makes them believe they have an actual disease that they didn't ask for. Let's be real, what person asks for cancer, cystic fibrosis, ulcerative colitis, or multiple sclerosis?

So please, stop playing the victim role thinking you have a disease that you brought on yourself because of your choices. Stop crying the blues because you screwed up and want the world to take pity.

Cover Image Credit: http://ccbhc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/drug-abuse.jpg

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Stop Demonizing CBD Just Because You Associate It With THC

CBD doesn't get you high, do your research.

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I'm sure you've heard about CBD already, but if not, then let me break it down for you. Cannabidiol, CBD, is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant, but unlike the THC in the marijuana plant, it doesn't have any psychoactive properties.

CBD doesn't get you high.

When extracted from the plant, CBD has proven to be effective in the medical field. It has shown to be effective in the treatment of epilepsy, in the management of pain, in reducing depression and anxiety, and relieving cancer symptoms, among a host of other uses. New research from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York has revealed that CBD may be beneficial for society as a whole, too.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital conducted the study to understand how we can fight the opioid epidemic through the discovery of alternative treatment options by assessing the potential effects of CBD on craving and anxiety in heroin users.

42 drug abstinent men and women between the ages of 21 and 65, who had recently stopped using heroin, were recruited for the study. Two groups were formed out of the participants: a control group that received a placebo and a test group that received CBD doses ranging from 400 mg to 800 mg per day. After administration, participants were exposed to neutral environmental cues and cues that would be considered drug-use inducing over three sessions. The cues in the environment were tested because an addict's environment and the cues it gives are the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use.

The results of the research hold great promise for the future of CBD.

Participants who were in the test group and given CBD had significantly reduced cravings for heroin, and noted feeling less anxiety when exposed to drug-use inducing cues. Moreover, the CBD had a lasting effect on this group as it continued to reduce cravings and relieve anxiety for seven days after the last dose was administered. In essence, this is the most important takeaway from the research: CBD had lasting effects well after it was present in the body. Numerous vital signs like heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation were taken to ensure only objective results were obtained since cravings and anxiety are subjective feelings. Another finding was a reduction in participants' heart rate and salivary cortisol levels, which would have both increased in the presence of anxiety-provoking images.

I think the evidence points to a logical conclusion: CBD is safe, it is effective in treating opioid addictions, and it is beneficial for those who experience a host of issues from pain, to anxiety, to epilepsy or to illnesses. Now is the time to keep pushing for legalization to continue larger scale studies and introduce CBD as a valid treatment option.

"A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll and enormous health care costs." - Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

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