Aspirus highlights trends in substance use among young people

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – Aspirus Health recently highlighted trends in substance abuse among young people.

“As society evolves, so do the patterns of substance use among young adults,” a release from Aspirus said. “One notable trend observed by Saba Khan, DO, a Family Medicine Resident Physician at Aspirus Wausau Family Medicine, is the rising prevalence of marijuana and nicotine vaping among young people.”

Khan. Photo courtesy of Aspirus.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), 11% of middle schoolers in Wisconsin have experimented with electronic tobacco products, and 4% are current users.

“These figures notably increase by high school, with 32% of students having tried e-cigarettes, and 20% considering themselves current users,” Aspirus stated. “In Michigan, the OK2SAY student safety program reports that half of high school students have tried vaping, and one out of five currently engages in vaping.”

 Aspirus said vaping gained popularity as an alternative to traditional tobacco smoking, maintaining its appeal among younger populations due to a variety of flavor options, accessibility and its discreet nature.

Khan expressed a “major concern,” saying, “It can be done indoors and doesn’t have a strong odor like cigarettes, making it easier to use these products in secret.”

The act of vaping involves inhaling steam that comes from hot nicotine liquid.

“Despite claims of being a healthier alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes, research indicates that vaping still poses health risks, including exposure to harmful chemicals, nicotine addiction and respiratory issues,” Aspirus stated.

Beyond the medical risks, substance use during adolescence can impede cognitive development, disrupt academic achievement, increase the risk of legal issues and exacerbate mental health challenges, leading to long-term health consequences, according to Aspirus.

Khan underscored the importance of understanding the underlying reasons driving this behavior and promoting healthier coping mechanisms.

“Prevention is key,” she stated. “Having an open dialogue and fostering supportive environments can help them feel safe to confide in you when they need help, instead of turning to drugs and alcohol.”

 For more information about substance abuse and resources for prevention, consult with a primary care clinician or visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website at

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