Addiction experts concerned that existing treatments aren’t enough for vaping teens

The astronomical rise in kids who are physically dependent on the high levels of nicotine found in e-cigarettes has addiction experts concerned that existing treatments aren’t enough.

Doctors say the way electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine to the body and brain makes them more addictive than traditional cigarettes.

“In vaping, because the nicotine is so highly concentrated, you can get it into your body much faster and at much higher doses that you would with a typical cigarette,” said Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the adolescent substance use and addiction program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Levy told NBC News that experts are using medications to help with nicotine cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms. But effective counseling is also crucial for kids who vape.

“We’re seeing kids coming into the clinic with their lives falling apart around them,” Levy said.

Many of her young patients are having trouble concentrating in school. Many are also unusually irritable and have trouble keeping their temper under control.

“Treating vaping problems is difficult,” Levy said. “There’s no research how to do it.” Her teen addiction program now has three to four times the call volume it had a year ago.

Kids may also find it difficult to avoid high-risk situations now that they’re back in school.

“One kid referred to a Juul lounge at school,” Levy said. “We used to call it a bathroom.”