With all the negative effects being attached to hookah smoking lately, a new trend has started to emerge in the form of hookah pens. The question is: are they safe?
First let’s get to know more about it. What’s a hookah pen and how does it work?
Dr. Donald Bucklin, Regional Medical Director for U.S. HealthWorks, described a hookah pen in his op-ed article on Rocklin and Roseville Today as “an e-cigarette for the avant-garde.” That’s probably because it sports a stylish and colorful design that are quickly attracting the attention of club goers, regular smokers, and even some celebrities.
Hookah pens are available in different flavors, such as Grape, Vanilla, Coffee, Strawberry, Blueberry, Peach, Apple, and more. They are advertised as tobacco-, tar-, and nicotine-free.
Making up a hookah pen are the battery, the filling, and the evaporator. When you take a puff, the battery heats up the evaporator to vaporize a liquid that you inhale. At the end of a hookah pen is an LED light which illuminates every time you inhale.
In addition to being trendy, hookah pens are widely favored because they are portable that you can practically carry one anywhere you go. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to one very important question: do they make a safer alternative to hookah smoking?
As Dr. Bucklin pointed out: “The use of a hookah pen is not dangerous in and of itself.” However, they do not come without some consequences.
The biggest danger of hookah pens is they can encourage people to smoke more of it and may even lead to a certain level of addiction. People who use hookah pen may also experience throat ache or muscle aches given the product’s Propylene Glycol content.
It’s also noteworthy to understand that a hookah pen is only good for 500 up to 700 puffs, which means, if you are a heavy hookah smoker you may end up spending ten dollars a week or double that amount.
The long-term effect of smoking hookah pens, if there’s any, is not fully known. Some say that even though the product is being advertised as nicotine-free, it still contains very small amount of nicotine, the basic ingredient found in cigarettes. Now whether a hookah pen does have or doesn’t have nicotine content, the only way to know for sure if it’s okay or detrimental for your health is to talk with your health care provider before you start using it.
The so-called Cinnamon Challenge became a big hit among U.S. teens last year. So big that it resulted to more than 50,000 Youtube videos of people attempting to join the bandwagon. Common responses to the challenge include coughing and burning of the mouth, nose, and throat. But although these responses are temporary, doctors warn that attempts to swallow large quantity of the dry spice could lead to lesions and scarring of the airway.
According to doctors at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the aspirated cinnamon “entering the upper airways can cause inflammation and, in more severe cases, aspiration pneumonia.”
“… the fibers and other components of cinnamon can also cause allergic and irritant reactions, including acute symptoms and temporary, if not permanent, lung function changes,” the doctors wrote in their report Ingesting and Aspirating Dry Cinnamon by Children and Adolescents: The ”Cinnamon Challenge” which was published on the journal Pediatrics.
In 2011, the U.S. American Association of Poison Control Centers received more than 50 calls related to the Cinnamon Challenge. In the first half of 2012, there were 178 such calls and 122 of which were classified as intentional misuse or abuse, and at least 30 teens required medical evaluation.
The large Internet presence and peer pressure are what have increased the popularity of Cinnamon Challenge. In the first six months of 2012, Google hits on the topic reached 2.4 million and then there’s also the frequent mentions of the challenge in social networking sites, such as Twitter, the report explained.
To address the problem, the doctors recommend schools and health care professionals to be more proactive in discussing to children the possible harmful effects of Cinnamon Challenge.
“… pediatricians and parents have a ‘challenge’ of their own in counseling tweens and teens regarding the sensibilities of the choices they make and the potential health risks of this dare,” the doctors suggested. “Counseling can modify risk behaviors related to peer pressure, such as preventing tobacco and alcohol use, pregnancy, and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.”
Are teenagers becoming weird in their addiction these days?
Of course, we can name in the blink of an eye some of the commonly abused substances, such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, prescription drugs, and so forth. But it seems unfathomable that there are teens who get addicted to eating deodorant or rubber.
In New York, a 19-year-old girl revealed her addiction to consuming deodorant sticks that she could eat half a stick a day or 15 sticks a month. According to the Daily Mail, Nicole had her first taste of deodorant when she was just a toddler and her obsession progressed in the last two years.
“My brain tells me, “you have to eat it”. I tried giving it up for a week but got really sick and had bad headaches,” Nicole said. “When I realize I’m out of deodorant I panic. My anxiety goes crazy and I get really aggravated. Without it, I’d be a totally different person.”
Although made from waxes and oil, deodorant contains aluminum which can cause dementia, seizures or even death.
In Atlanta, Georgia, another 19-year-old girl eats rubber tires as if she’s just munching on some yummy cookies. The Sun reports that Allison began chewing rubber as free alternative to gum. Now she could eat three feet of tire shavings a single day. She admits being totally hooked on them that she stashes away chunks so she never runs out of them.
“It’s kinda like beef jerky with your teeth springing off it! It’s workout for your jaw,” Allison said.
When checked by a doctor, Allison was given a clean bill of health but also warned that she could get cancer from all the chemicals she ingests on a daily basis.
Last month, a 33-year-old man was found dead at a motel in Osage Beach, Missouri. According to police, the man and a female companion purchased more than 50 cans of a “dust buster” aerosol product over three days in a nearby store. The cans were empty when found at the hotel room.
On March 8, five teenagers were caught huffing “brain duster” on the school bus on the way to Campbell County High School. Authorities said the can contains warning about the dangers of inhaling the products. Still, the teens went on to inhale the contents to get temporary high.
These were just two of the latest cases involving inhalant abuse. Who knows how many more cases have actually taken place in the past months and went unreported.
Inhalants are regarded as the most commonly overlooked drugs in the United States. They are cheap and easy to access. Majority of the users are elementary and high school students. In the book Inhalants, Ingrid A. Lobo and David J. Triggle enumerated the four types of inhalants, namely: volatile solvents, aerosols, anesthetics, and volatile nitrites.
Some of the commonly abused inhalants by 12-17-year-olds, include shoe polish, glue, spray paints, lighter fluid or gasoline, aerosol sprays, cleaning fluid, room odorizers, and other paint solvents. Many of these are found in our own household, as much as they are accessible in schools.
Even though these products have warning labels, kids and teens would intentionally inhale them to get high. The use of inhalants produces psychoactive or mind-altering effects, but not without some sort of dangers to the user’s health.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed there were more than 2 million Americans age 12 and older who abused inhalants in 2009. The 2010 Monitoring the Future Study found that 8.1 percent of 8th graders, 5.7 percent of 10th graders, and 3.6 percent of 12th graders had abused inhalants at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.
People abuse inhalants by breathing hem in through the nose or mouth in a variety of ways (known as “huffing“). They may sniff or snort fumes from a container or dispenser directly into their nose or mouth, or place a chemical-soaked rag in their mouth. Some would inhale fumes from a balloon or a plastic or paper bag.
Symptoms of Inhalant Intoxication
In addition to getting high, people use inhalants out of curiosity. Peer pressure is also a big factor on why young people end up using toxic chemicals. The products’ availability in nearly everywhere is also blamed for the growing number of teens who abuse inhalants. Sadly, inhalants can do some damage to a person’s health.
Some of the symptoms of inhalant abuse include:
- red or runny eyes or nose
- unusual chemical breath odor
- sores around the mouth
- loss of appetite
- shortness of breath
- loss of inhibitions
- diminished sensitivity to pain
- bluish discoloration of the arms and legs
- double vision
- loss of muscular coordination
- slurred speech
- auditory and visual hallucinations
Inhalants Ingrid A. Lobo, D. J. Triggle – 2009
National Institute on Drug Abuse
The Facts About Inhalants F.R. Menhard – 2005
Convincing a drug addict to get into rehab is not easy. One of the reasons is because there are many myths surrounding rehab treatments which make drug addicts think that checking into a recovery facility is just a waste of time and money.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, it would be in your best interest to know some of the common myths about drug rehabilitation so that you can make sound judgement in taking the first step to recovery.
Myth # 1: Drug rehab won’t work until you reach your lowest point
Most, if not all, drug addicts think they have to hit rock bottom before getting treatment or in order for rehab to work. The truth of the matter is you don’t need to wait for that to happen before seeking professional help. The earlier you receive treatment for your addiction, the sooner you can get your life back on track and keep yourself away from the further dangers of drug abuse.
Myth # 2: Drug rehab treats everyone in the same approach
People with drug problems need to understand that drug rehab offer different programs to deal with addiction. Reputable drug rehab centers employ drug addiction specialists and doctors that would assess the severity of the person’s addiction to determine the right treatment for them. Some rehabilitation centers offer both in-patient and out-patient programs, there are those that only provide residential treatment. So it’s important to do your research before committing to a certain treatment facility to make sure you’re getting the necessary help for your case.
Myth # 3: Drug rehab is not necessary because addicts can quit drugs anytime they want
Addiction is not just all about willpower. It’s a disease that requires professional attention and help. Drug addicts would often always find it hard to maintain long-term sobriety by themselves. Drug rehabilitation centers, on the other hand, are equipped with the environment, specialists, skills, and programs that can help drug addicts re-build their lives and abandon addiction.
Myth # 4: Drug rehab is only for people willing to quit drugs
Drug rehab doesn’t discriminate on a person’s level of addiction nor does it only accommodate addicts who willingly submit themselves to treatment. Although willingness is a big factor in order for treatment to work, there are people who are forced to go into rehab because they were ordered by the court or they were sent by law enforcement authorities into the center.
Tramadol may not often land in the headlines as one of the most abused prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin, still, there have been reported cases of abuse by people with chronic pain and even by narcotic abusers.
Like morphine, Tramadol binds to receptors in the brain (opioid receptors) that transmit the sensation of pain throughout the body to the brain. The drug is used to treat moderate to severe pain, and is known to be effective for treating disorders such as depression, anxiety and types of phobias. It comes in many forms, such as capsules, tablets, suppositories, powders for compounding, and preservative-free solutions for injection.
Tramadol belongs in a group of drugs called opiate agonists and is considered a highly dependent drug. From 1995 to 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received reports of 766 cases of tramadol abuse.
Some of the signs of Tramadol abuse and dependency include insomnia, sweating, palpitations, tremors, headaches, restless leg syndrome, electric shock sensations, aggressiveness or anger, anxiety, depression, and severe mood swings.
Those suffering from Tramadol addiction are also likely to experience withdrawal symptoms which can range from minor to severe. Some of the notable withdrawal symptoms include pain, sweating, anxiety, tremors, diarrhea, insomnia and hallucinations.
If you are or know someone who is abusing Tramadol, seeking help — albeit, not always easy — is an important thing to do because the abuse of this drug can take a heavy toll on the body both physically and psychologically. Addressing Tramadol addiction can be done in two ways, medication and behavioral treatment since people could become physically and emotionally dependent on the drug.
Sources of support and treatment for Tramadol abuse include treatment centers, detox clinic, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, licensed clinical social workers, and addiction support groups.