Deadly Vaping Epidemic Attacks the Brain Too

Deadly Vaping Epidemic Attacks the Brain Too


Across the country, over 400 people have been struck with a serious lung illness linked to vaping and as many as 5 have died. U.S. health officials have issued a statement urging people to stop vaping due to the deadly breathing issue.

But lung issues aren’t the only danger associated with vaping. The habit is also damaging the brain and increasing the risk of mental illness.

How Vaping Harms the Brain

Vaping nicotine or THC causes you to inhale into your lungs a host of fine and ultrafine toxins that can also penetrate your brain. Does size matter? Yes! The smaller the particle you inhale, the greater its ability to cause inflammatory reactions and damage your brain.

The Trouble with E-Cigarettes

There’s no question, vaping is addictive, and teens and adults are getting hooked. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that is quickly absorbed into the blood vessels that line the lungs. With vaping, it takes only about 10 seconds for nicotine to reach the brain.

That’s where it hijacks the brain’s reward system. Nicotine binds to receptors in the brain, causing it to pump out large doses of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. This dopamine surge can be 2 to 10 times what your brain releases for natural rewards—think hearing your favorite song on the radio, hitting a home run in baseball, or eating a delicious peach. Over time, this diminishes dopamine’s effectiveness and makes people need more and more of it to get the same effect.

Nicotine causes other problems too. It constricts blood vessels, lowering blood flow to the brain. This deprives the brain of the nutrients it needs and eventually causes lower overall activity. Brain imaging studies show that low blood flow is associated with short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, impulsivity, anxious thoughts, depression, schizophrenia, and addictions.

E-cigarettes raise the risk of mental health problems. A 2019 study found that university students who used e-cigarettes were significantly more likely to have mental health disorders, such as ADD/ADHD, anxiety, PTSD, gambling issues, and drug use.

The problem with vaping is getting worse. In 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General called e-cigarette vaping among youth an “epidemic.” In a report involving over 40,000 teens nationwide, more than 20% of 12th graders said they had vaped nicotine in the previous month. That’s twice the number who had reported vaping in 2017. Younger kids are also jumping on the trend with 11% of 8th graders saying they had smoked e-cigarettes in the past year.

The Dangers of Vaping THC

Vaping THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana, is equally troublesome.  Research from Amen Clinics has found that marijuana lowers blood flow to an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is involved with memory, attention, moods, and learning.

A 2019 review of 11 studies involving more than 23,000 people found that using cannabis as an adolescent increased the risk of developing depression and suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts in young adulthood. Other research shows marijuana impairs short-term memory, contributes to learning and attention problems, reduces focus and coordination, and increases the risk for psychosis.

There is no question that vaping is putting America’s youth at risk.

If you’ve taken up vaping or if your teen or tween is vaping, understand that it is addictive and associated with brain and mental health issues. To help patients overcome addictions, Amen Clinics takes a brain-body approach that looks at all the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors that may contribute to the problem. For more information or to schedule a visit, call 888-288-9834.



  1. My patient went from one ppd for 35 years. Resistant to all nicotine gums, pills, anti-depressant to just VAPE at 12.0 mg Nicotine.

    Uses no funy flavors or CBD……just Nicotine.

    No second hand smoke for others. No stink in house or car.

    No parts of filters/papers and other things in the cigarette.

    The nicotine issues are always there but I think there is a pleasure principle of fondling and sucking on something while going about their day.

    I think for that patient, a healthcare worker, this is the lesser of two evils. It took me years of affirming, shaming, cajoling, to even get them to try and even with maximum mental manipulation at their family’s request….nothing. Until they tried the Vape a year ago and it was an easy switch.

    Isn’t the National news never on someone just using Nicotine…………but flavors and CBD…..?

    Comment by William Kelso — December 11, 2019 @ 8:29 AM

  2. Is it the nicotine causing the AD/HD or is it the AD/HD causing the nicotine dependence. I’ve read studies that show that AD/HD people have a propensity towards many addictions. They showed that the AD/HD children have a tendency to become addicted later on in life.

    Comment by Dave Vroman — December 11, 2019 @ 10:23 AM

  3. When are we the American people start a CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT. There must e something we can do. They are killing people and kids start not knowing the adiction….. Cigarette companies just making money KILLING people every day..

    My children started smoking while their dad was dying of LUNG CANCER. They were 7 and 11 yo. My daughter just died of Lung Cancer 35 years later. Tried everything to stop smoking and couldn’t . The companies have put things in cigarettes to kill people and the gov’t did nothing… I lost my husband at 36 yo and my daughter at 46 the pain will never stop.
    The gov’t did nothing to protect the people..My mother also was hurt by cigarettes and did everything also to stop..COPD as did my sister at 60 yo. My sister is 66 yo and has lung Cancer.
    Will I lose all my family from the NICOTINE and additive of cigarette?

    Our gov’t could careless. TRIED EVERYTHING TO STOP and nothing helped…

    Comment by cafg — December 11, 2019 @ 4:21 PM

  4. Addiction is bad but it’s all a choice stop smoking stop marijuana and stop vamping!

    Comment by Margaret L Caster — December 11, 2019 @ 5:55 PM

  5. I’m not it’s helpful to assume causality here, from what I can see it’s associated (so i assumed correlated) to vaping, which is the latest trend in consuming nicotine, which is an addictive substance, which people with mental health often use. I can’t see anything here which proves that vaping causes mental health issues. No doubt it’s harmful, just as much as other substances (such as alcohol and other drugs) are with regular use or misuse. Also, my understanding was that those unfortunate deaths were in relation to a particular strain of vaping juice which I hope has been taken off the market, but I could be wrong.

    Comment by laura — December 12, 2019 @ 11:44 AM

  6. I share an office in Napa with a pulmonologist and he told me that the dangers in vaping are more dangerous to the lungs with THC than with nicotine. The issue here is the vitamin E used with THC to make it more bioavailable causing lung issues not so with the nicotine vaping. Both are bad for your brain health so best to avoid either!

    Comment by William Shryer — December 18, 2019 @ 7:40 AM

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