Nobody likes to broach the subject of substance use and addiction with a loved one. There are a number of reasons for this, possibly the fear that you’ll alienate them and damage the relationship, or the possibility of pushing them further into their habit. However, the first thing to know is that, for most users, vaping is used as a substitute for one of the most dangerous consumer products available: cigarettes. Even when vaping can prevent smoking, and the risks of smoking-related diseases, you might still be concerned about your loved one’s physical and mental health. Generally, vaping is considered to pose less of a risk than smoking, but the fact is that not vaping at all is the healthiest option. If you feel like you can’t stand idly by while someone you love engages in vaping too much or too often, here are some great ways to approach them about the issue.
UNDERSTAND THEIR PERSPECTIVE
When you begin the conversation with your loved one, set your personal judgment aside and consider starting with actual curiosity. Instead of leading with facts and consequences, ask, “Do you have friends who are vaping?” or, “what do you think about e-cigarettes?” Understanding your loved one’s perspective about what they know about vaping, and what their personal views are on the subject can shape how the rest of the conversation will go. What’s more, asking them what they know about the issue increases the chance that they’ll want to know your perspective as well. This means, to get someone you love (a spouse, parent, teenager or close friend) to take your concerns about vaping seriously, your first step should be to acknowledge that they could have already arrived at their own conclusions, through first-hand observation or personal experience.
EXPRESS YOUR CONCERNS
When talking about vaping with your loved one, you cannot afford to treat all dangers as equal, as this might make them want to ignore you. To overcome this, accept that the level of risk involved with experimenting with illegal drugs is most certainly higher than experimenting with conventional vaporizers. When you open your talk like this, you may improve their reception, as you express your concerns and help them understand that vaping is not without at least some risks. There is no evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes are, in fact, completely safe. Young people, in particular, are vulnerable to vaping devices and their effects. Experimenting with nicotine at an early age increases the risk of addiction. Nicotine is a potent drug and, even if they don’t get addicted, it can interfere with brain development, and also with long-term cognitive function. The potential consequences of inhaling chemicals and metal particles have not been fully defined, but shouldn’t be risked either. You can maintain your loved one’s trust by being forthcoming about the facts surrounding vaping and what remains unclear.
UNCOVER THEIR MOTIVATIONS FIRST
People have their reasons for vaping, so it can be helpful to ask why before suggesting why not. Your teenager’s reason could be to experience the rush of defying authority, often to show off to their peers. By nature, adolescents often look for ways to push boundaries and, unfortunately, vaping offers an easy and convenient way to do so. Compact vaporizers, such as Juuls, which look similar to flash drives, make it easy to conceal their vaporizers and take secret puffs in school hallways, in class, and even at home. Another reason could be that they enjoy the stimulant quality of nicotine, while believing that it doesn’t have the same consequences that can result from using harder drugs. Other motivations for vaping may simply be the temptation to sample interesting-sounding flavors, such as “Blue Raz Cotton Candy”, or the draw of cool videos of tricks that can be performed with exhaled vapor. If you only address the dangerous risks of vaping, it can be easy for your loved one to dismiss you as simply a bore who just doesn’t get it. However, by appreciating the charms that can be involved with vaping, it’s easier for you to say your piece. In the end, you want your loved one to have a clear idea of their options and to make the right decision and protect themselves.
CONCEDE THE LIMITS OF YOUR INFLUENCE
Stopping a loved one vaping would be a lot less stressful if it were possible to just control them. However, trying to lay down the law, or use prohibitive statements, overestimates your actual influence and undermines their autonomy. It might even push them to continue vaping simply out of spite, or to prove a point. To avoid an ineffective, and perhaps counterproductive, game of cat-and-mouse, you might find it easier to employ a two-pronged approach, where you can express high expectations in one breath, and concede the limits of your power in the next. You might say, “I’d really appreciate it if you could stay away from vaping”, and then follow up with “I don’t have the power to make this decision for you, so I’ll leave it entirely up to you.” If you’re having this conversation with your teenager, and you feel inclined to make rules about vaping, you could add, “If we discover that you’re vaping, there will be consequences”. Teenagers can easily be guided by reminding them that their decisions all come with repercussions, just as parents can also be served best by remembering that your loved one always has a choice.
ACCEPT THAT FACTS ONLY GO SO FAR
It’s been proven time and time again that having concrete facts may not necessarily lead to making smart decisions. Adults and adolescents alike routinely make choices that they know can increase their health risks, such as eating fast food, not using sunscreen, and drunk driving. Vaping, using drugs, having unprotected sex, and other potentially dangerous activities have easily accessible facts that can guide choices, and you should ensure your loved one knows about them. Also, it may be futile to expect that simply exposing them to the information, and to the possible dangers of such actions, is an appropriate conversation starter that will scare them away from such activities and help them to quit. It’s hardly ever that simple, but you can certainly get your loved one to care about what you think, and to take fewer risks when the lines of communication are open.
In having the difficult talk about vaping with your loved one, there are several ways you can get it right. One of those ways is to ensure that they feel like they have a say in the discussion, and that all you want is for them to be safe.