My Teen Son is Vaping Behind My Back, What Do I Do?

While e-cigarettes have been helpful to adults looking to quit smoking, it is alarming how quickly vaping has caught on with teenagers. From 2017 to 2019, the number of high schoolers who are vaping has doubled.

Many people attribute the spike in teen usage to the tasty vapor liquids and the false claim that vaping—also called Juuling, after the popular vaping company—is completely safe. While using an e-cigarette is better than smoking a regular cigarette, that doesn’t mean vaping is safe.

Due to the rising popularity of vaping among teens, our advisors here at Liahona Treatment Center are often asked what parents should do about teens who are vaping. If you are in this predicament, here are some things you can do to address your teen’s vaping.

Approach The Conversation Patiently And Calmly

When parents first find evidence that their teen has been vaping, it can be very upsetting. In many cases, parents have had suspicions, but their teen lied to them, which can add to the feelings of betrayal and disappointment.

If you have discovered that your teenage son has been vaping, take a bit of time to calm yourself down. While your teen is not likely to react all that well at having their lies uncovered, the conversation can go significantly better if you approach your teenage son with patience and calmly.

Ask Your Son Why He Is Vaping

In many cases, teens start vaping to fit in, and due to peer pressure. However, that is really just the tip of the iceberg. Parents should always be concerned when their teens turn to substance abuse, as it is often a mask for other, deeper issues.

So, before you assume you know why your teenage son is vaping at school, try to talk to him about it. Maybe it started as a way to fit in with new friends, but perhaps he finds it calms his anxiety before class.

There can be many important reasons why your teen is self-medicating, and with a calm, patient approach, he might tell you some of these reasons. With this information, you can more easily help him find positive coping methods.

Talk About Your Concerns And Share Research

Facts about vaping and its dangers may not completely change your teen’s mind about using e-cigarettes. But it may help open their minds to understanding that Juuling with friends isn’t as safe as they thought. You can use trusted sites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to show your teenager the research around the dangers of vaping.

Other talking points and concerns you can bring up are:

  • It is illegal for minors to buy e-cigarettes and vaping accessories.
  • Vape pens and other mods have been known to spontaneously combust while in use or while unattended. Some people have experienced severe facial burns, and at least two people have died when their e-cigarette exploded.
  • Nicotine use while the brain is still developing can impair good decision-making development and carve early addictive pathways in your teen’s brain.
  • Oral health is often impacted by vaping. Your teen may experience more cavities and gum disease due to vaping.
  • Vaping has been linked to mysterious lung-related illnesses, and people are starting to die from the resulting illness.

Empower Your Teen Son To Make Better Choices

Some parents choose not to confiscate their teen’s vaping paraphernalia and instead leave it with their teen in hopes that their kid will choose not to vape. However, nicotine is an addictive substance. And with any addiction, it is best not to give easy access to the addictive substance to someone who is trying to get clean.

It can be far more effective for you to remove all of your teen’s vaping equipment. If you are unsure if an item is related to vaping, you can do a quick Google image search for the terms “vaping accessories,” and “vaping gear” to quickly check if a suspicious item is used for vaping.

Once all the items are removed, acknowledge that your teen can replace the items or even just use their friends' vaping gear. Encourage them instead to take the opportunity to quit vaping altogether. Since you can’t police your teenage son at all times, it is essential that he understands that it is on him to make better choices.

Set Clear Consequences For Future Vaping Infractions

After you have taken your teen son’s vaping equipment, it is time to lay out the rules and consequences for any future vaping infractions.

While the obvious rule of “stop vaping” is an easy starting point, there are other rules to consider setting. For instance, if your son was influenced by a certain set of friends, maybe you need to set rules regarding spending time with those friends.

As for the consequences for breaking the rules around vaping, that is another sensitive matter that needs to be conducted on a case-by-case basis. Some parents opt to ground, restrict privileges, and other consequences.

However, if the vaping is linked to other poor behaviors, it may be time to consider a behavior modification program to help your son make positive changes.

Watch For Further Behavioral Or Mood Issues

Sometimes, these steps are enough to help your teenage son open up, and together, you all can work through why he started vaping in the first place. However, there are many instances where vaping is just the tip of the iceberg.

Should your teen have other underlying problems they are struggling with, you can watch out for further mood issues and poor behavior. Things like delinquency, truancy, and academic failure are common signs that there are further issues than just vaping.

At Liahona Treatment Center, we have worked with many teenage boys from ages 13-17 as they worked to overcome a range of behavioral and mental health struggles. With our structured therapeutic and educational program, we can help your teenage son get his life back on track.

If you believe your son could benefit from the greater structure provided by our residential treatment center, feel free to contact us today to learn more about our program.

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