Many educators are trying to curb their students’ use of vapes, knowing that teen vaping can have irreversible consequences. In order to stop student vaping, you need to realize it’s happening. This is easier said than done, as students are not likely to vape right in front of your face. For this reason, it is important, if not absolutely necessary, to be able to recognize the signs that a student is vaping.
The Importance of Recognizing Signs Early
Being able to recognize the signs of vaping is not enough, you must also be able to recognize these signs as soon as they present themselves. The longer a student is able to vape without intervention, the worse the damage to their health. This could include asthma, lung disease, heart disease, and even cancer.
Additionally, the longer it takes for a student to receive help in quitting vaping, the more likely they are to become hopelessly addicted. Having any addiction at such a young age is capable of completely changing the life course of the student, almost always for the worst.
Behavioral Signs of Student Vaping
First, we will take a look at the changes in behavior caused by vaping. Some of these may seem subtle, but they should be noticeable if you are paying close enough attention and know what you’re looking for.
1. Changes in Behavior or Routine
A likely tip off that a student is vaping is a substantial change in their routine. For example, a student who has always been on time in the past, begins arriving 5 minutes late every time.
Or perhaps a student starts missing lunch when they used to be first in line. Anything like this can be a sign that the student has taken up vaping and has altered their routine in order to fit vaping into their schedule.
2. Reduced Ability to Focus
A student who was once extremely attentive and diligent begins to “space out” or ask for instructions to be repeated. It may seem like nothing, and perhaps it is, but if it begins to happen daily then the likely culprit is vaping.
You see, vapes contain nicotine, and nicotine changes the way synapses are formed in the brain, which can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning. This usually presents itself as a noticeable decrease in the student’s ability to focus.
3. Frequent Excuses
Excuses are a common occurrence when dealing with students, but special attention should be paid when these excuses become overly prevalent.
For example, if a student is asking for an obscene amount of bathroom breaks or is constantly asking to get something from their locker. Frequent excuses to leave the room often mean the student is actually leaving the room to go vape.
Physical Signs of Student Vaping
Behavioral signs can sometimes be hard to spot. With all of the stress in a student’s life there can be many reasons for behavioral changes.
Luckily, there are also physical signs that a student has begun vaping, which are sometimes easier for parents and educators to notice.
1. Increased Thirst
If the student begins drinking an exorbitant amount of water, they may be vaping. Vapes contain a chemical called propylene glycol, which often causes dry mouth and dehydration.
This leads to highly increased thirst and causes the vaper to drink much more water than normal. In addition to this, dehydration may also cause the student to have dark circles under their eyes.
When someone vapes, they are restricting the amount of oxygen they are inhaling and it also causes their lungs to work harder. This causes their blood oxygen level to drop down to much lower than it should be.
A low blood oxygen level causes fatigue and exhaustion. If a student suddenly seems to have low energy, they may be vaping regularly.
3. Coughing and Shortness of Breath
Using vapes damages the lungs due to the chemicals and solid particles they contain. This leads to coughing and shortness of breath.
When these symptoms are seen in an otherwise healthy student, it is a very strong sign that they are partaking in vaping.
Health Risks and Warning Signs
When first released onto the market, vapes were heavily advertised as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco use. We now know that this could not be further from the truth. Vapes contain known carcinogens and solid particles, both of which are inhaled deep into the lungs when someone uses a vape. This can lead to asthma, lung disease, heart disease, and even cancer.
Additionally, vaping is just as addictive as traditional smoking. With these health risks in mind, it is easy to see why knowing the signs of vaping is so important. By noticing that a student is vaping, and then intervening, you can save them from a lifetime of health issues.
How to Enforce No-Vape Policies
So, what is the best way to prevent student vaping once you notice the signs? Well, your school should have a no-vape policy in place. This is a policy which clearly states that vaping is not allowed at all on any school property.
The policy should also outline the consequences a student will face if they are caught vaping on school property. These consequences can range from an educational class on the risks of vaping, all the way up to suspension.
Enforcing a no-vape policy can be very difficult due to students’ penchant for breaking the rules out of sight of authority figures.
However, school vape detection can be made easy with the installation of vape detectors. These are devices which detect the presence of vape smoke. They then sound an alarm or subtly notify administration. These detectors can make a huge difference in the amount of student vaping and can even save lives in the long run.