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Lonnie McCreery

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco Talks Fighting Addiction, Depression, and Anxiety

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Addiction, depression and anxiety can hit many musicians, and it can often take years of making mistakes and learning from those mistakes before a musician can get sober.

Where sex, drugs and rock n roll has been a cliché for many years, it’s now a hoary cliché, and there’s nothing uncool about finally getting help and getting sober, much like Jeff Tweedy of Wilco has.


A Famed Indie Rocker Reflects on Addiction and Mental Health Struggles


The famed alternative band Wilco has been around for a long time, and one of their best known albums, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, made Rolling Stone’s list of 500 best albums of all time. (The band also won two Grammys.)  Tweedy has now written his autobiography, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) where he goes into detail about addiction, anxiety, depression and sobriety.


Like many who struggle with addiction, it ran in Tweedy’s family. His father was an alcoholic. He started playing in bands when he was a teenager, and first gained fame in the alternative band Uncle Tupelo.


Tweedy also suffered from terrible anxiety when he was a kid. Anxiety is common with a lot of performers, and being onstage can create a level of fear unknown to man.


As Tweedy told PBS, when Uncle Tupelo came to an end, he was unhappy with it, but growing up in an alcoholic family, so he understood unpredictability. Even when he hit an artistic high with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it got dumped by the label. Tweedy released it through another label, and it went gold. Then Tweedy won a Grammy two years later.


But Tweedy was already struggling with addiction. He was taking painkillers, namely Vicodin, and as PBS reports, by 2003 “he was battling a full-time opioid addiction.” He tried to quit cold turkey, then he went into inpatient care.


Looking Back Into a Dark Past


As Tweedy looked back on his dark days of addiction, he told PBS that what he thinks about the most since getting sober is “what I need to do next to stay healthy or to stay sober…I’m a big believer in when things get a little bit overwhelming, to slow yourself down and think of what the next right thing to do is. I have all this evidence from many more years of living that reassures me [that] I’m probably gonna be okay.”


Since getting sober, Tweedy has also been remarkably prolific, and musicians often have the fear that they will lose their creative spark when they get sober. Thankfully, a lot of musicians like Tweedy who have come out through the other end of the tunnel have proven this is not true, and sobriety is the best thing you can do for your creativity.


Writing an autobiography can be a final statement for a lot of people, but Tweedy is only in his early fifties, and there’s still plenty of chapters to be written. For a lot of people who have suffered from addiction, writing a biography can be a way of closing that particular chapter of their lives, which is hopefully what Tweedy has done with Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).


How Outrageous Comedians Are Fighting Addiction

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As hard as they can make you laugh, comedians can often be very unhappy people, and addiction, depression, and mental health issues have long been a curse on many funny people like John Belushi and Chris Farley. There have been many comedians who have beaten addiction and used it as great material in their acts like George Carlin.

Lately, in the news, a lot of comedians big and lesser known have come forward about struggling with addiction and mental health issues, and it has given hope to a lot of regular people of all walks of life. (By the way, you don’t have to be funny or have an outrageous sense of humor to fight addiction, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, and humor can be a great tool in your arsenal.)

When Comedians Clean Up

There are many stories you can find about well-known comedians who either succumbed to addiction or finally found their way out after years of suffering. We all know the names John Belushi, Robin Williams, and Chris Farley. But even in the recent news, there are many stories of comedians who cleaned up their acts and are still damn funny.

As one comedian, Craig Conant recently confessed to Digital Trends, and he decided to get clean after “the third arrest.” He was in jail, felt he was “a bit of a loser,” and he finally realized, “Aw, man, enough of this shit…” Then he had another epiphany: “I’m gonna get sober, and I’m gonna get into comedy.”

Conant is now five years sober. Being a comedian can be very stressful, and like getting sober, he had a lot of hurdles to get over before he started doing well onstage. As the saying goes, dying is easy, comedy is hard. But Conant is happy, whether he goes on to the big time or not.

A Sober Stripping Clown?

One of the most fascinating and crazy stories you’ll read about comedy and sobriety is about a stripper clown who is sober and talking about it on her regular podcast. (Now you’ve heard everything, right?)

Kiki Maroon’s podcast is called Clown, Interrupted, and she’s a comedian from Texas. Doing her podcast is one way she’s coming to terms with her past, and exorcizing her demons.

Maroon got help from a fellow comedian, Andy Huggins, and they are both from the Houston area. Maroon has other comedians and burlesque people on her show who talk about their journeys to getting sober. As one dancer recently confessed to Maroon, “I went from being a weekend partier to crossing lines in the sand that I didn’t even have time to draw.”

And the myth that you have to suffer to create? Forget it. With Maroon’s podcast, she’s trying to destroy the myth of the tortured artist. She believes that artists often have a hard time getting help “because of the idea that you have to be broken to feel. You can’t be a healthy, functioning adult. That’s unfortunate because it’s not true.”


A New Hard Look at Vaping and Juuling

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There’s a lot in the news these days about vaping and teens becoming hooked on Juul. In the opioid age, many may be blowing off nicotine addiction, but it is currently a serious issue for people of all ages, especially teens.


Many feel they’re not putting their health at risk by Juuling instead of smoking, but this is sadly not true, and many young people are going to learn this the hard way. And just like withdrawing from other drugs, Juuling can have serious effects on your mental health and wellness if you withdraw without help.


Now the New York Times is taking a hard new look at vaping and Juul addiction by following a nineteen-year-old named Matt Murphy and his Juul addiction.


The Truth About Vaping Addiction

As the New York Times reports, Murphy first saw a Juul for the first time at a high school party in the summer of 2016. He was seventeen when he tried his Juul for the first time, and he loved it the first time he tried it. “It was love at first puff,” he says. The next day he went back to the Juul, and couldn’t stop, to the point where he called his Juul his “11th finger.”


Juul then became Murphy’s addiction for the next two years. He went on vacation with his family early into his Juul use, and he was losing his mind without it. He then spent $100 to take an Uber to a store and get a starter kit so he could take it on the family vacation.


Murphy stayed away from drinking, pot and cigarettes, and like many teens, he thought Juul was harmless. He also liked the fact that it made him a bit of a bad boy in that teachers and parents couldn’t tell he was using it. “The Juul was super, super sneaky and I loved it,” he says.


But then he noticed he was out of breath a lot when playing sports, and he was hitting up his Juul a lot in college as a refuge from stress. Like a lot of people dealing with addiction, eventually, he used Juul to deal with his cravings and anxiety that came from withdrawal. Like a lot of people who smoke marijuana, he kept his Juul nearby when he woke up in the morning so he could have a wake-up taste.


Regretting Getting Hooked on Juul

Before he knew it, Murphy regretted ever starting Juul in the first place and warned his college friends not to do it. Finally, he was confronted by his parents, and that gave him the incentive to get help.


Unbeknownst to many people, withdrawing from Juul has similarities to withdrawing from other drugs. One time Murphy stopped and he “felt strong for five minutes. And then I felt really weak. I only realized the magnitude of my addiction when I stopped.”


After three weeks, Murphy felt like he was getting back to normal. He even marked the day he quit, like many who get sober. He still gets the urge to Juul, but then he thinks about the terrible times he had when he was addicted as well as the struggle of quitting.


Friends reach out to Murphy who is going through similar situations with Juuling, and he lets them know that he understands what they’re experiencing and that it does get better when they can finally quit.

Can Kid Cudi Give People with Depression and Mental Health Issues Hope?

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Whenever someone in the public eye triumphs over mental health issues, depression, or addiction, it can give a lot of people in the world hope that they can recover as well. Kid Cudi is one such hip-hop artist. He has been speaking out about dealing with depression, and how he’s now “living in the light.”


“It’s Been Difficult For Me to Find the Words…”

On October 4, 2016, Kid Cudi made a posting on Facebook where he confessed he needed help. “It’s been difficult for me to find the word to what I’m about to share because I feel ashamed,” he wrote. “Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I’ve been living a lie. It took me a while to get to this place of commitment, but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter, and all of you, my fans.”


Cudi finally admitted, “I checked myself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges. I am not at peace. I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I would’ve done something to myself.”


That was over two years ago now. Cudi is telling a much different story today…


“Living In the Light”

Two years after getting help, Cudi put together a new album, Kids See Ghosts, with Kanye West, who has mental health struggles as well.


Cudi checked himself into rehab to deal with his depression, and he was also contemplating suicide (if you’re not familiar with the term suicidal ideation, it means when someone is thinking of ending their life.)  Today he tells GQ, “I’m not battling any demons right now. Thank God.”


In writing music after he got help, Cudi says, “I chose to write the light. Me and Kanye both agreed that we wanted to create a spiritual album. I know kids are used to hearing me talk about darkness, but I’m living in the light now.”


Once the roadblock of depression got moved out of the way, Cudi was more creative, “with more love in my heart for what I’m doing and for myself,” he told Billboard.


He also realized that feeling bad can be a necessary part of life we all have to endure. “I was chosen to endure those, too. And I’ll have to explain my darker moments again to my daughter one day. She’ll want to know, and I’ll have to explain, but she’ll understand.”


While many people go on social media to share their troubles, Cudi got scared when he realized his posting was all over the news several hours after he posted his cry for help. Cudi then checked with his manager to see what the response was, and he saw that “the response was all love and support, and it really touched me.”


Cudi was especially brave coming forward and sharing his troubles with the world, explaining, “I needed to be honest…I couldn’t live a lie. I couldn’t pretend to be happy.”


Now that he’s thankfully made it to the end of the tunnel, Cudi is a much better and happier artist and person, and he’s also providing inspiration for many who are ready to get help.

Finding Comfort with Your Mental Health and Fighting Anxiety in Horror

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With Halloween being the number one movie in the country for several weeks, a lot of people are looking at the relationship between horror movies, anxiety, and mental health. Contrary to what a lot of people may initially believe, horror films can help people deal with trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety and more.


Healthy Horror

There have indeed been studies about how people have used horror movies to heal and deal with mental health issues. While many people don’t like horror films because they don’t like being scared, many can enjoy them because you’re being scared in a safe environment, and you know what’s scaring you is ultimately not real.


Horror has been around in one form or another for many centuries. Even before we had movies, we’ve enjoyed the spooky tales of Edgar Allan Poe,  being spooked on Halloween and so on.


The site Well and Good reports that if you want to settle in and watch a bunch of scary movies, it’s “an expert-approved way to boost mental health.” The story even spoke to a “fear scientist” who explained, “We have four basic emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. Fear is there to keep us alive, and it’s something that is so inherently part of just being human, but we have this really kind of dysfunctional relationship with fear.”


And indeed, many times we see people wearing t-shirts saying NO FEAR, and people encouraging the world to be fearless.


But as this doctor explains, “The horror genre gives us a safe space to express our fears, to talk about our fears, to say ‘I was scared!’ without having the kind of personal obligation to say that you are a fearful person.”


How Horror Can Help

Much like when you’re riding a rollercoaster, there can be great fun in being scared. It’s cathartic to scream your head off, and at the end of a wild ride, your knees may be wobbling, but it can be an incredible release as well. Same with seeing a scary movie. You’re with a group of people all screaming and letting out their fears in a large group. You look around you and realize everyone else is scared too, and it’s okay to be scared.


This article listed three other ways that horror films can be beneficial, and the first one was very surprising. They can boost your confidence. When you go through extreme fear then come out through the other end, you know what extreme fear can feel like, and know that you can survive it.


“There’s a lot of stress before encountering something scary,” one source explains. “But once it’s encountered, you reset the bar at a higher setpoint. Now nothing else seems like a big deal.”


Horror films can feel euphoric because fear can release a lot of powerful chemicals in your body, like adrenaline and serotonin, much like when you’re exercising like a maniac in the gym.


Scary movies aren’t for everybody, and they can be very disturbing for people who aren’t horror inclined. But like a lot of things in life, when you walk through your fear, it’s wonderful to learn that in many cases there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.

A New Look at Addiction and Recovery in the Jewish Community

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Religion can be an important component for many in recovery. You don’t have to have God as a higher power, but many have turned to their religious beliefs to help them get sober.


In many religious communities, addiction is often still a dirty little secret, which is why it’s now something that is being confronted head-on in the Orthodox Jewish community.


The Religion, Addiction, Recovery and Rehabilitation Connection


NBC just ran a report on addiction in the Orthodox Jewish community, and as one rabbi told the network, “The Orthodox attitude about drug problems is to stay quiet on the issue,” which is something that clearly has to end.


At least one person in recovery told  NBC, “The more Orthodox Jews that end up seeking help, it just raises awareness in general in the community.” This source came back from a hideous heroin addiction. A year and a half after she hit bottom and got sober, she made it her mission to raise awareness in the Orthodox community. She also wants to break down the wall of denial that exists between those suffering from addiction, and those who don’t want to acknowledge the problem.


One rabbi who is working to turn around attitudes about addiction said, “If we can even just save one life, as the Talmud says, you’ve saved an entire world.”


This rabbi launched his own support group that helps people in the Jewish community deal with addiction and mental health trauma. His organization helps people from the ages of 13 to 71, and he’s also noticed a generational shift in attitudes towards addiction and recovery, saying that younger rabbis “get it.”


Religion, Addiction, and Awareness

There are many rehabs and recovery programs that are geared towards people of all walks of life. And when you Google search Jewish recovery programs, it’s remarkable how many will pop up.


While the twelve-steps are the foundation of the recovery process, other rehab programs are also geared towards the Jewish Orthodox traditions.


As one rabbi noted on My Jewish Learning, treatment helps tackle a person’s addiction, while a rabbi can address a patient’s spiritual needs.


As this rabbi explains, “The pastoral caregiver can frame addiction in a spiritual context by using biblical and Midrashic images,” like telling stories from the bible in the context of addiction and recovery.


“Addiction to substances is slavery,” this rabbi continues. “Addiction is a state in which one is powerless and out of control. The story of the Exodus from Egypt is also the personal story of each addicted Jew emerging from his or her narrow place, tempted repeatedly to backslide, but struggling always to reach the promised land of recovery, serenity, and spirituality.”


Analogies can certainly help people visualize the recovery process, and get many to get their heads around the concepts of the recovery process. Thankfully addiction, sobriety and recovery are now things that are spoken about openly in many areas of the Orthodox Jewish community, and while being religious is not a requirement of recovery, it is indeed helping many who need to turn their lives around.

Lil’ Peep’s Family Speaks Out About Addiction

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It’s been nearly a year since rapper Lil Peep died at the age of twenty-one. He’s back in the news because a new posthumous album, Come Over When You’re Sober Part 2, is being released, and because so many hip-hop artists are speaking out against addiction and are crying out for help for their mental health as well.


As Variety reports, at a release party for Come Over, Peep’s mother spoke out about the loss of her son from opioids.


The Message of Lil Peep’s Death

Lil Peep died nearly a year ago at the age of 21. It’s too young for anyone to die, and when a young artist passes, it can be especially tragic considering how much music they could have continued to give the world.


Come Over When Your Sober Part 2 premiered in New York, and the listening event was tastefully handled in Lil Peep’s memory.


At the event, Peep’s mother, Liza Womack, told the audience, “This album is an important album because it is the work of a young, creative, honest, trailblazing artist. This album is also important because [Lil Peep] is dead. But this is the album he would have made if he were living.”


Womack continued, “Young music artists in this field are dying too often. The posthumous release of a young artist’s music is a problem you are all going to have to face. You are facing it now: What do you do when a young artist dies long before his time, leaving behind a legacy of finished and unfinished work and a legion of heartbroken fans?”


She concluded, “This is the album he would have wanted.”


The Opioid Crisis Hits Hip-Hop

The U.S. opioid crisis has hit all walks of life, and there’s been a more intense focus on drug abuse in hip-hop than ever. It’s not just opioids that hip-hop artists are hooked on, Xanax has also been a major problem as well. These days there are rappers that are proudly sober, while others still struggle and are looking for help.


The death of Lil Peep hit the hip-hop community hard, and musicians of other genres also felt the loss as well. Right after he died, one rapper tweeted, “Even if you don’t know who [Lil Peep] is this bring up a HUGE issue we NEED to discuss. Hip hop has a drug abuse problem! Too often do we promote things that will literally kill us and say nothing when something like this happens. WAKE up ppl.”


Another rapper tweeted, “Depression isn’t trendy, it’s an awful rotting feeling. Lil Peep deserved a happy ending.”


Thankfully the stigmas around mental health and addiction for hip-hop artists are disappearing, and more are seeking help. And perhaps the music that Lil Peep left behind will also be a cautionary tale for people who many who are suffering from addiction and are looking to quit.


Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2 will be released on November, and the first single from the album is “Cry Alone.” Rolling Stone is calling the song “bittersweet, somber and haunting,” and it features lyrics that are indeed haunting to hear today: “I don’t wanna die now, I just did a line of blow right now…”

Rock Legend Joe Walsh On Addiction and Sobriety

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Joe Walsh is the legendary guitarist of The Eagles, and he’s had a strong solo career as well. Like many rock stars, he’s also had major bouts with alcohol and drugs, but he’s been sober twenty-five years now and is living to tell the tale of his rehabilitation and recovery.


Life’s Been Good?

Walsh spoke out about this recovery and rehabilitation for a non-profit event. Another fellow rock star with many years of sobriety under his belt, Ringo Starr, also attended the event.


Walsh wrote one of the funniest songs about being a rock star, Life’s Been Good, and while it was a great parody of the rock star life, some wondered if it really was a parody. But Walsh, like many rock stars, learned the hard way that the sex, drugs, rock n’ roll lifestyle wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.


As a kid, Walsh had mental health struggles. He reportedly struggled from attention-deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Asperger’s syndrome. The awareness around mental health problems in the fifties wasn’t like it is today, in fact, Walsh told the Associated Press, “There was no awareness of what that was…You were just difficult. I was difficult.”


Walsh had serious social problems, but he would get courageous after a few beers. “That planted the seed,” he says today. “I thought alcohol was a winner.” He then discovered cocaine and other drugs in college.


When his albums did well, he mistakenly thought it was the booze and drugs that fueled the hits. When an album didn’t do well, he thought, Well obviously I’m not drinking nearly as much as I need to.


Walsh told Rolling Stone, “The worst part of success is that a lot of things come along with it that you didn’t really know you were going to get in the package…Money, drugs, women, partying. …When you’re young it’s really easy to lose your perspective, which I did…It was a real challenge to stay alive and end up on the other end of it.”


Hitting Bottom and Getting Back Up

Walsh then said that vodka and cocaine were his “higher power,” and he “turned into this godless, hateful thing.” As many discover once they get into rehab, Walsh realized his problems weren’t so special. “Gradually they showed me that I’m not a unique individual, one-of-a-kind person. I’m just an alcoholic, and for the first time in my life I felt like I was somewhere where I belonged.”


Walsh even wrote an album about the recovery process, The Confessor, and while he was often considered the clown prince of rock n roll, it was one of his first truly serious efforts as an artist.


Today Walsh loves his family and has learned to control his emotions so his emotions don’t control him. As he told Rolling Stone before he got sober, “I would fly into rages or I would just feel extremely sad. In settling down and just living life, I can experience emotions but I don’t become them…Man, being in the moment is where it’s at.”

Teletherapy Can Be a Great Boon for Mental Health

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One of the hardest steps for many people with mental health issues is to open up and trust someone. Yet some believe that many people can feel more comfortable seeking help with teletherapy, and it could be another crucial step forward for this technology.


Opening Up With a Therapist Online

Many are now looking into the benefits of telemedicine, where you can consult with a doctor online and get virtual help from practically anywhere in the world. And telemedicine is not just a boon for physical wellness, it can also potentially do wonders for mental health as well.


In fact, an article on Greatist has called teletherapy “the one great tool changing mental health.” One example this article points to is our increasingly hectic schedules. Having to work as hard as we do is stressful enough, but without seeking therapy, we can run the risk of running ourselves into the ground.


With teletherapy, it’s easier to set up an appointment without having to travel to a doctor’s office, and people in rural areas can get easier access to help as well. (Remarkably, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells that that there are no psychiatrists in 55% of U.S. counties, which can make teletherapy an even more important necessity for mental health in the future.)


And while many would think it would be hard for some people to open up through teletherapy, in today’s technology age it could indeed be easier. (Think of it like talking to your therapist over the phone.) As one doctor explains, “Psychiatry is uniquely suited for telemedicine services since psychiatrists don’t typically perform physical exams.”


Mental Health Breakthroughs with Teletherapy

In technology terms that people today can understand, one doctor called Teletherapy “FaceTime on steroids,” and many patients are excited about the possibilities of teletherapy.


In addition to being able to hook up with a therapist if you live far away, and being able to make time for therapy when it’s convenient for you, there’s also the aspect of what is called the “impossible task.” When you suffer from serious depression, everyday things we all have to do can become “impossible tasks.” If people become paralyzed with mental health issues, a therapist can reach out through a video conference, and help people in the privacy of their homes.


As for the confidentiality aspect of therapy, this report tells us, “the video chat systems that psychologists and psychiatrists use have to meet security requirements that are extremely stringent,” making your session with a psychiatrist as private as an in-person visit. (the technology is already in place with many mental health apps that keeps patient sessions safe and confidential.)


While teletherapy is still in development, there is tremendous potential for it to grow and help people all over the world. Already therapists and patients alike feel it can be a powerful tool in improving people’s mental health, and it can also make it easier than ever for people to hook up with the right treatment, and get the help they need.

Teens and Vaping

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You see commercials for it all the time, public service announcements warning teens against vaping. Concerned parents should always be watchful about what their teens are ingesting, but how seriously should they take warnings against vaping? Should a teen with an addictive personality stay away from vaping? Should teens seek treatment if they are vaping a lot? Well according to the FDA, we should take teens and vaping very seriously.


An “Epidemic”?

As USA Today reports, Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, is calling vaping among young people an “epidemic,” and a crackdown could be imminent. Vape manufacturers have been given a strong warning, and they have sixty days to come up with a plant to help prevent youth vamping. If the plan isn’t strong enough, the FDA is threatening to step in and take charge.


The companies being targeted include Juul, Vuse, MarkTen Xl, Blu and Logic. These companies make up over 97% of the American market for vaping and e-cigarettes.


Gottlieb took a look at the current data, and was alarmed by what he discovered. Over two million kids in middle school, high school and college are vaping, and he said, “Teenagers are becoming regular users, and the proportion of regular users is increasing. We’re going to have to take action. No one can look at the data and say there’s no problem.”


Vaping and Addiction

One parent who spoke out to USA Today said he has two kids in his family who are addicted to vaping, and another parent said his teen bought Juul vaping cartridges using a parent’s name online, and he got them shipped to a different address so the family wouldn’t find out. While Juul says they require age-verified signatures when vapes are delivered, parents are demanding more, and the FDA is getting tougher than ever.


As Vox explains, teens who vape are often “Juuling.” One teen who spoke to Vox said it didn’t take long for him to feel addicted from Juuling. “After about a week, you feel like you need to puff on the Juul. To some people it is like a baby pacifier, and they freak out when it’s not near.”


And as Vox reports, “E-cigarettes have quietly eclipsed cigarette smoking among adolescents. The possibility of another generation getting hooked on nicotine is a nightmare scenario health regulators are scrambling to avoid.”


Juul is incredibly popular these days among teens, half the vape sales in the country are Juul and one source at an academy school says, “Ninety-five percent of the disciplinary infractions we dealt with in the fall and continue to deal with into the spring are all connected to the Juul.”


Some who run schools are glad to see teens staying away from smoking, but teens don’t understand the risks that come with the vaping. While it’s still not clear how addictive aping is, it could eventually become a very addictive habit with teens.


Why Parents Should Be Concerned

If your teens are vaping, you should open up a discussion with them about the risks involved. As one source told WebMD, “Nicotine is a prime ingredient in these devices. Studies show nicotine is more addictive than heroin and cocaine. And there’s a growing body of evidence that nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain.”