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As Drug Cartels Leverage Vaping Infrastructure, Expect Vaping Deaths to Rise Sharply

WEST ORANGE, N.J., Oct. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 3.6 million middle- and high-school students reported using e-cigarettes over the past 30 days (CDC), and 12 percent of teenagers had tried vaping at least once.

"Recent vaping-related illnesses and deaths suggest that drug cartels have started leveraging this vast vaping infrastructure to deliver more potent substances," Noted Dr. Indra Cidambi, a nationally recognized Addiction Expert and Medical Director of New Jersey-based Center for Network Therapy. "I think they will experiment with more deadly drug combinations down the road to leverage the vaping infrastructure, which will lead to a sharp increase in vaping-related deaths."

Vaping devices (e-cigarettes) work by heating liquid nicotine to generate an aerosol, called "vapor," that the user inhales. These liquids come in cartridges shaped and designed to fit particular brands/models. The cartridges are purchased independently from the vaping device. They contain liquid nicotine or marijuana, which vaporize easily at low temperatures that vaping devices currently deliver.

"Nicotine is addictive, as it increases the level of dopamine in the brain and primes the reward pathways for other drugs," Added Dr. Indra Cidambi. "E-cartridges have much higher concentration of nicotine than cigarettes. Eventually users will develop tolerance and will need more potent stimulants to release increased amounts of dopamine to get the same effect. Indeed, 25 percent of teenagers who used e-cigarettes progressed to smoking marijuana, as compared to 12.5 percent who did not use e-cigarettes."

The recent serious pulmonary illnesses and deaths were likely caused by imitation cartridges (knock offs) purchased illicitly, which contained adulterants such as metal and other toxic chemicals. This was possibly a crude attempt by drug dealers to inject more potent substances into the vaping system to deliver a higher high.

"While heroin is not vapable in its current form, drug cartels will surely be experimenting with different concoctions to deliver a potent high and make them available on the streets," Dr. Cidambi said. "For example, the boiling point of methamphetamine is low."

The vaping trend has gone unchallenged until very recently, but a concerted response is called for in order to curb the spread of e-cigarettes among teenagers.

* Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO.

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About Dr. Indra Cidambi

Indra Cidambi, M.D., Medical Director, Center for Network Therapy, is recognized as a leading expert and pioneer in the field of Addiction Medicine. Under her leadership, the Center for Network Therapy started New Jersey's first state-licensed Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification program for all substances nearly three years ago. Dr. Cidambi is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and double Board Certified in Addiction Medicine (ABAM, ABPN). She is the President of the New Jersey Society of Addiction Medicine. She is fluent in five languages, including Russian.

About Center for Network Therapy
Center for Network Therapy (CNT) was the first facility in New Jersey to be licensed to provide Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification Services for all substances of abuse – alcohol, anesthetics, benzodiazepines, opiates and other substances of abuse. Led by a Board Certified Addiction Psychiatrist, Indra Cidambi, M.D., experienced physicians and nurses closely monitor each patient's progress. With CNT's superior client care and high quality treatment, Dr. Cidambi and her clinical team have successfully detoxed roughly 1500 patients in five years. CNT also offers Partial Care and IOP programs.

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SOURCE Center for Network Therapy