CHATHAM, NJ - A majority of students from the Chatham Middle School and Chatham High School - 54 percent - have seen someone vaping in the last year.
Vaping of nicotine and marijuana can be so addictive that one student reportedly was spending "$1,000 a month" according to Chatham student assistance counselor Christine Mahoney.
Vaping was high on the list of risky behavior gleaned from the student well-being report presented by Chatham student assistance counselors on Monday night at the regular meeting of the Board of Education. The overview of the student wellness report was formulated from the 1,800 students, grades 6 through 12, who answered the survey questions in February of 2019.
Mahoney said that one Juul vaping pod is the equivalent of 20 cigarettes (see video below).
"It's a lot of nicotine that students are intaking," Mahoney said. "What we've been seeing a lot recently has been that the common additive that's being put into these vapes is THC or marijuana, the chemical component being THC. Due to the high potency, we're seeing a lot of side effects. It's very scary. The side effects are memory loss, trouble concentrating, panic attacks, paranoia, trouble sleeping, increased heart rate and even seizures (not seen in Chatham as of yet)."
Mahoney (see video below) also said that adolescents are buying vaping products from China, which is unregulated and could be laced with fentanyl.
"Drug dealers are putting fentanyl in a lot of the TCH concentrates because it's more addicting," Mahoney said. "Adolescents are buying from China because it's cheaper. The problem is that it is an unregulated market and we don't know what's in it."
Board member Michelle Clark said that nicotine is very addicting and that students might be afraid to ask for help. Mahoney said there are a number of steps they are taking to get students help with vaping addiction in the video below.
Board president Jill Critchley Weber made remarks after hearing the report at Monday's BOE meeting on student wellness.
Lisa Lattarulo, CHS student assistance counselor, noted that female students reported more stress than male students. She also said that two-thirds of the students surveyed are worried about school shootings (see video below). She also said that 90 percent of students said they felt moderately to very safe with a policeman present in the school.
Lattarulo said that higher statistics in risky behavior might be due to a more comprehensive job the district is doing in identifying students who need help. The district is also monitoring internet searches to help identify students who are possibly at risk. See Lattarulo's comments in the video below.