Weed & Vaping in College Students

Boy concerned about Gaining Weight After Anorexia treatment

The stigma tied to smoking has led many college students to choose to vape instead. Vaping is another term for e-cigarettes. While there is a belief that vaping causes fewer health issues, research is still uncertain about the full impact of vaping marijuana or nicotine.

While the true impact of e-cigarettes is still being researched, the research that is available shows there are negative effects. This is important to be aware of since the amount of college students who are vaping is continuing to rise dramatically [1].

The rate at which people are using marijuana and nicotine through vapes is growing more quickly than any other substance in the last 42 years [1]. It is important for people to be aware of the following potential consequences of vaping:


College Student struggling with addiction to vapingNicotine is highly addictive. In fact, 32 percent of people who used nicotine one time developed a long-term habit [2]. E-cigarettes may contain more nicotine than regular tobacco products. There are ways to increase the amount of nicotine that someone gets from a single hit.

This means that college students who vape instead of using cigarettes because they believe it’s healthier may actually be getting even more nicotine than if they had smoked a cigarette. This increases the risk of addiction because of the amount of nicotine that someone is being exposed to. Vaping is just as addicting as smoking cigarettes [1].

Also, vaping marijuana comes with its own unique concerns. Similar to what may lead college students to use e-cigarettes, there is a belief that marijuana is not addictive. However, addiction is not just about the biological effects of a drug [2]. Someone can become addicted to a substance even if they are not physically dependent on it. Emotional dependence can lead to addiction [2].

Marijuana use is continuing to increase in college-aged individuals. Recent research shows that college students are beginning to use marijuana daily or almost every day [1].

Health Risks of Vaping

Many college students begin vaping because they believe it is less harmful than regular cigarettes. Recent research shows that vaping is linked to chronic lung disease, asthma, and heart problems [3].

As researchers continue to understand the nature of the chemicals used in vapes, we may have a clearer understanding of the long-term impact of this method of substance use.

While there are many things we are continuing to learn about vaping, one thing is clear: it is not without harm. It is important to know about the potential risks if you are thinking about vaping, currently vape, or know someone who does.

Having the information to make an informed choice can help reduce long-term harm, especially as younger generations may be reigniting the smoking epidemic.


[1] National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2020, September 15). Vaping, marijuana use in 2019 rose in college-age adults. https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/PR-NIDA-MTF-CollegeAge2019DataFINALCLEARED91120.pdf

[2] Maté, G. (2010) In the realm of hungry ghosts. North Atlantic Books.

[3] John Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.) 5 vaping facts you need to know. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on November 30, 2020
Reviewed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 30, 2020
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.