My 27-year-old son vapes. He says he started doing so as a substitute for cigarette smoking and is now addicted to the nicotine in the stuff vaped.
I have read recently that vaping increases the risk of getting, and the severity of, COVID-19.
Should I convey research to him? I care about him. He knows that. He’d understand the articles.
But I’ve read that trying to persuade a friend or family member to quit an addiction doesn’t work and can elevate guilt, anger, animosity, and intransigence.
Is there anything I can do to be helpful?
Here’s what the New York Times published on April 9: “Some stress-reducing behaviours are alarming to medical experts right now — namely vaping and smoking of tobacco or marijuana.
“Because the coronavirus attacks the lungs, this is exactly the moment, they say, when people should be tapering — or better yet, stopping — their use of such products - not escalating them.
”Quitting during this pandemic could not only save your life, but by preventing the need for your treatment in a hospital, you might also save someone else’s life,” said Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician and researcher at the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Meanwhile, legal and illegal cannabis sales have spiked, even though doctors warn that smoking and vaping worsen the virus’ symptoms and spread.
Yet more important than the research itself, is your concern as a father.
While urging someone to give up an addiction often doesn’t work or causes a negative reaction, this is an extraordinary time, with extraordinary consequences.
This deadly virus in our midst doesn’t wait for lungs to get weaker over the years. It strikes at every possible opportunity, and reaches young people in their 20s as undiscriminating as affecting the elderly.
Your son’s habit also affects you. And other family members, as well as anyone within range of the virus.
“You bring this device or cigarette to your mouth to inhale and you do so repeatedly,” explained Dr. Winickoff, who is also a professor at Harvard Medical School. “You touch the cartridge. You put it next to your face. You’re spreading whatever is in your hand into your body.
“At the same time, many of my patients who smoke or vape have increased coughing or expectorating. And that’s a recipe for increased spread.”
Yes, tell your son! Say that you love him, now, and the risks aren’t worth the habit. Offer any support you can through a cessation effort.
According to the Times article, lung specialist physicians suggest that combining two common methods of smoking cessation - the nicotine patch plus either a nicotine gum or lozenge - can boost chances of quitting successfully.
A strong dose of determination helps, which I can personally attest to.
I missed vaping (thankfully) but many moons ago when smoking was considered “cool” among my friends, I was addicted to three packs a day. It’s hard to believe even as I write my own truth.
I woke up one day determined to quit. I went back to bed very early. The next morning, I was able to call it Day 2.
I’ve never even held a cigarette since.
For online help quitting smoking:
The Canadian Cancer Society website offers smokershelpline.ca.
In the US - Freedom From Smoking A site from the American Lung Association, with a variety of tools to help quit both smoking and vaping.
A search will provide apps, books, tapes, etc.
My husband, 48, suffers depression/anxiety, requiring prescription drugs.
He can’t stand the loneliness of social isolation, and walking outside alone.
He used to regularly attend a gym and won’t try, as I have, a gym workout online.
He’s been threatening to shoot hoops with a friend who’s also restless with staying home. I’ve said, NO since they’d both be touching the same ball, which is against the intention of staying physically distanced from others.
I’m worried about his mental health if he doesn’t play; my physical health if he does.
Call his prescribing doctor for advice regarding his medication and any available online help (e.g. psychotherapy counselling).
Also, start a regular online Zoom meet-up with his pals. And then search for a basketball workout routine – pros, like Steph Curry, are putting some online.
Sure, he should be doing this himself but his depression will likely hold him back until he sees what’s possible and enjoyable.
Tip of the day:
Smoking and vaping allow COVID-19 to attack even young lungs already weakened by regularly inhaling nicotine.