Understanding the Complex Relationship Between E-cigarette Use, Other Substance Use, and Mental Health in Adolescence

Publication Date: December 30, 2020

Author: Jennifer L Pearson

Description: In a systematic review of 40 articles, researchers found an association between e-cigarette use and depression, disordered eating, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, impulsivity, and perceived stress. Similar findings have been found in other research on e-cigarette use, mental health conditions and other substance use. The 2017 US Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that of the 12% of adolescents who had used an e-cigarette at least once in the past 30 days, over 90% had also used at least one other substance in the same period. Over 87% of adolescents who were past 30-day e-cigarette/other substance users had used alcohol; 76% had used tobacco; and 66% had used cannabis. More frequent e-cigarette use was also associated with past 30-day use of a greater number of substances. Another analysis examined the relationship between cannabis use and cigarette and E-cigarette use. The authors found that cannabis use was associated with greater odds of using cigarettes and/or e-cigarettes.  The correlation between mental health and substance use challenges and adolescent e-cigarette use demonstrates a need for additional public health education, outreach and intervention efforts. Adolescents with a mental health condition or with a vulnerability to develop a mental health condition and who use a range of substances, including e-cigarettes, will be at increased risk of any number of harms in the short and long term.

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