Exploring treatment options for teens addicted to e-cigarettes

As vaping has become an epidemic for young people, Dr. Jennifer Ashton discusses how parents can help teens who have become addicted.
5:55 | 12/20/18

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Transcript for Exploring treatment options for teens addicted to e-cigarettes
Thank you care to our GMA cover story teen beeping use is soaring so much so that the surgeon general has declared it. An epidemic and making matters even worse there are very few treatment options available to help teens kicked the habit Nightline anchor juju Chang joins us. More on the story and good morning to you good morning to say good morning guys and you know is a totally a bitter. Ironing that the device that's supposed to help adults kicked the nicotine habit. Has now hoped countless teenagers just about every parent I know is worried and with good reason research shows that teenagers brains. Can get addicted easier and getting them off. Can be trickier. Luka conjured is a typical fifteen year old just trying to fit in. But sometimes fitting Ian isn't the smartest route. By some people using tools. Whether be as social gatherings there a school. And that's my really sort of pick up on July Lucas says experimenting morphed into big big a potted day the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. Mango and menthol his favorites and I was going out to me than going to eat I go to the place to eat things that I'd save my money to go smoke. His mother Kelly says the honor roll students grades faltered his mood darkened. He's always had a wonderful vibrant happy personality and that changed pretty much overnight. One day he was great in the next day he was totally different person. Loko was among the one point three million teens who fate than a year. Just this week the surgeon general declaring. All the more troubling because studies show a teen still developing brain leaves them more vulnerable to addiction. And telling us really different that we hadn't seen before is kids coming in just for problems with jewels and that's pretty new for us. The Wall Street Journal also found that doctors across the country are struggling to help teens fight their. About com how to deal with us doctor Sharon Levy is director of adolescent substance use and addiction program at Boston's Children's Hospital. Our call volume this year is about six times higher than it was same time last year she says treating a child's addiction is not one size fits all. When we see kids coming in with who are Julie and having trouble quitting. The first line that we usually offer them is nicotine replacement and that in itself is really not usually enough kids also. Typically need counseling to help them. Get past the withdrawal and the cravings. But for Luka the answer to fixing hiss addiction issues came in the form of a 39 day treatment facility. With group counseling and relapse prevention. Before chain in my view the world was it's me vs the world. And had to carry the world's weigh on my shoulders but now I've I don't let that at all I feel so much support by friendly and friends it's a great feeling. Now Lucas tells us that he is no longer beeping and mom says she's just happy to have her son back now Jules BE cigarette maker has taken steps to eliminate those enticing flavors for kids. And they're working with federal authorities they told us in a statement. Underage use of jewel is completely unacceptable to last and runs counter to our mission which is of course. Helping eliminate addiction Sicilian okay GG thank you let's bring in our chief medical correspondent doctor Jennifer ashen we have been talking about the story all we can so. Many parents of teens are concerned about this let's talk about the teenage brain. And how baking affects our teens more susceptible to addiction absolutely they are and we have to talk about basic anatomy and physiology here when the inhale that nicotine which the majority of these. Sometimes in much higher concentrated doses than a regular cigarette. It goes into the bloodstream it floods the brain the part of the brain were particularly concerned with is called the pre frontal cortex. And that's the part that's responsible for decision making emotions impulse control is not fully mature. Until the mid twenties whom you talk about those tasks the executive functioning as we like to call it. Teens are ready struggling with those things nicotine makes it worse and this can exacerbate. Mental health issues like depression anxiety. Anger this is a BP deal to you don't come home smelling like smoke their hard to spot sometimes these DCE cigarette right look like I'm in a variety of different things. How can parents tell if their child's addicted while I think the issue is the you to look for the seems signs and symptoms of nicotine addiction as we would think about looking for and an adult who's trying to quit regular cigarettes. Restlessness irritability. Behavior seeking out nicotine or these beeping devices and a change in mood concentration. Academic performance these are some really significant and we have to see this from the child's or teen's perspective. They are developmental task at baseline is to take risks to challenge authority and to fit in. All three of those things stack the deck and really make a perfect storm. For their and using these devices more and more and that's why we see these staggering numbers you see those signs in your child what do you do was there anything you can do well that's the point of this is that this is unchartered territory there are no clear addiction protocols for teens for these east aids so the first step has to be. Talk to their pediatrician. Unfortunately then you have to seek out substance abuse programs no differently than you would if you were talking about. A teen addicted to OP laid and talk to your teenagers about these devices. With out judgment we have to see this from their perspective the more as parents we get worked up what is a teenager gonna do say well. You say black I say wait I'm gonna do it more so we have to engage them on their level and make them understand. That this is a serious problem and fierce strategy fear tactic is not gonna work with all such valuable information to help sandy people thanks.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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