A Heart to Heart About Addiction

I want to share a staggering number with you. 37,767+

This is the number of Utah Youth – ages 12 to 18 years old, who are addicted to nicotine. And it is because of flavored vaping products like the puff bar pictured above. 

*What is a Puff Bar?

I have shared with you before HOW this happened, but today I want to share WHY this problem persists and is getting worse.

I want to have a discussion about ADDICTION:

  • What these youth are going though
  • And how each of us can help

Because chances are, with one in eight Utah youth actively using these products, you have a sibling, child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or neighbor who is addicted to nicotine.

hero_image_alt_text===A picture of a puff bar device sitting on top of it's packaging
thumbnail_alt_text===A picture of a puff bar device sitting on top of it's packaging

Dr. Ed Redd, a physician from Logan, UT specializing in Substance Use Disorders explains Nicotine Addiction in this way:

  • Your brain and body function off a system of stimulus and rewards.
  • When you and I engage in activities that sustain or create life our brain rewards our body with a chemical called DOPAMINE.
    • We breathe = dopamine
    • We eat food = dopamine
    • Dopamine fuels our good behaviors and stimulate our body to keep us alive
  • NICOTINE is so addictive because it hijacks this reward system in our brain into believing that taking NICOTINE is a life-sustaining activity.
    • Nicotine use is now rewarded with dopamine

To demonstrate this effect, I want each of you – on the count of 3 – to take a breath and hold it for as long as you can.

Ready? 1-2-3 – HOLD

Now, while you are holding your breath, how many of you remember as a kid when you would have contests to see who could dive across the pool the farthest without taking a breath?

Do you remember that feeling of your body SCREAMING at you to just BREATH as you reached as far as you could go?!

That’s probably a feeling that some of you are experiencing right now.

But why?

Well, no breathing = no dopamine. In this moment when your body craves oxygen more than anything else, your body literally feels like you are going to die unless you breath now!

And THAT is what NICOTINE addiction is like.

For that young person in your life going thru addiction that next hit of nicotine literally feels like the difference between life … or death...

Right now, our youth need just one thing from you:

  • One, take to heart what you have just learned and experienced about addiction. These youth don’t need your anger – they need your compassion and understanding
  • Two, visit quitlying.org and visit the resources for parents and educators. These have great tips for how to talk to youth and others about vaping.

Because using devices like puff bars – should not feel like a life or death situation for our youth.

I want to thank you for your action during the 2020 regular legislation session. We did not accomplish all that we set out to do but I know that none of us are giving up. In the fight against tobacco and nicotine addiction, You’re the Cure!

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