Your teenager may be addicted to nicotine. If you take a draconian stance, you are essentially threatening to put an addicted person into abrupt withdrawal.

You need another approach.

“The trick is not to try to scare them, because scare tactics don’t work at this point,” said Dr. Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, a Yale professor of psychiatry who focuses on adolescent behaviors and tobacco products. “But explaining how these products are making them addicted is the way to go.”

Involve them in a conversation. Try to get them to recognize the compulsive quality of their behavior. Show them what researchers know about nicotine addiction and the questions they are raising about the possible long-term harms of vaping.

The goal is to encourage them to want to quit for their own good, not just to give you lip service and continue behind your back.

Not necessarily. Some people can smoke one cigarette and have a glass of wine at a party — and that’s it.

But nicotine addiction can happen swiftly and is extremely hard to extinguish. One factor is the amount of nicotine the user is exposed to. Some vaping devices, like Juul, provide high levels.

If there is a family history of addiction, or if other family members are using addictive substances like alcohol, tobacco or drugs at home, a teenager’s vulnerability ratchets up.

Teenagers with anxiety or depression can also succumb more quickly. And, doctors note, withdrawing from nicotine can also set off anxiety and depression, at least temporarily.

Unfortunately, even the experts aren’t sure.

“We as researchers are barely keeping up with the increased use and proliferation of these products,” Dr. Krishnan-Sarin said. “We haven’t started to scratch the surface.”

Addiction medicine experts are beginning to suggest some approaches. Ask your pediatrician about them.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help redirect thoughts when cravings hit. Talk therapy can address underlying anxiety or depression, which may be related to the reason the teen is vaping or have been triggered by quitting.

Other activities can calm an agitated mind in withdrawal, especially yoga, meditation and sports. A teenager can renew acquaintance with a passionate interest or hobby that might have fallen away.

Nicotine patches and prescription cessation medications might be worth exploring, though most are only approved for adults. Dr. Sharon Levy, an adolescent addiction medicine expert at Boston Children’s Hospital, has begun prescribing nicotine replacement patches off-label for older teenagers who are motivated to quit.

Experts caution that there is no silver bullet. Instead, they suggest that you try a constellation of approaches.

This content was originally published here.

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