U.S. Currently Focused on “VapeGate”: Drug Crisis Is Old News

Guy vaping

I’d say the news in the United States operates on fads. By fads, I mean hot topics that will ensure viewership, ratings, and lengthy chat threads on social media discussing whatever the “issue of the week” is.

Throughout the drug crisis, there have been epic busts, mass overdose situations, and new drugs getting discovered on an almost weekly basis and that is what usually comprised most news broadcasts. The American public were glued to their screens each day, seeing what new developments had occurred in the epidemic, but lately, the news has taken a bit of a shift.

Lately, all the rage has been about vaping and the recent deaths and illnesses allegedly caused by vaping, most specifically being caused by THC-containing vape products, but not from any specific brand. Since the first few cases made it into the news, tons of media outlets covered the developing story as more and more cases came to light where people got sick and died—again allegedly due to vaping. So many news stations were covering “vapegate” that I just happened to notice the dwindling number of stories about the drug crisis. As the witch hunt against the vaping industry commenced, the issues occurring with our nation’s drug problem have persisted, but it’s just old news at this point. Yep, old news. Not meaning it’s no longer an issue—because unfortunate addicts are still dying at an alarming rate—but the news outlets have covered it so much, it seems like a fresh story was needed to keep people tuning in every day.

If that’s the case, it's extraordinarily sad, because I believe that the media is there to inform the public honestly of what’s going on in the country and the world. I realize that’s a Utopian ideal that may never be achieved, but I’ll stay hopeful, for now.

Rolling Stone magazine, CNBC, and other news outlets have called this a “vape crisis,” even though less than 30 people have died as a direct result of vaping. The only thing this accomplishes is getting the mass public into hysterics. Rolling Stone specifically reported that there are three different vaping epidemics currently—not just one. The first crisis is people currently dying from health complications, the second being the unknown long-term effects, and the third being e-liquid flavors being marketed to kids.

The magazine wrote: “But the larger issue, says Shields, is that this is a complex and multi-pronged public health discussion. I see it as three trains on three parallel train tracks.” He goes on to say, “One of the trains is what’s going on right now, with these people getting really sick, really fast. The second train is the long-term health effects of electronic cigarettes or THC cigarettes… and the third train is kids and flavors.”

CNBC not only refers to the current vaping issues as a crisis but also calls the recent illnesses an “outbreak” using alarming language to get the public nervous and, in my opinion, to continue to forward some agenda unbeknownst to most of us.

“The vaping illness outbreak has now spread to 46 states and one territory with public health officials in 10 states reporting deaths.…”
Young hipster girl is vaping.

CNBC writes: “The vaping illness outbreak has now spread to 46 states and one territory with public health officials in 10 states reporting deaths. The first illnesses cropped up in April and rapidly increased beginning in July. The first death was reported on Aug 23 in Illinois. The most recent fatalities were reported by health officials in North Carolina and Oregon on Thursday. The disease is mostly hitting men, and all reported cases have a history of e-cigarette or vaping use. Of the cases the CDC has demographic data on, 61.9% of the victims were between 18 to 34 years old and 16.2% are under age 18, the agency said Friday.”

We can go on and attack the vaping industry since some people may have died from black market products and argue the pros and cons of heavily regulating the industry, but, again, what about the drug crisis? What about the family that buried their child last night? What about the addict who woke up in a jail cell not realizing how he or she got there? What about the countless homeless, addicted Veterans living on city streets with no hope of a better life after they gave theirs for our country? Do they still exist or is all this just “old news”?

I can tell you the addiction crisis is still very much a crisis, and it’s definitely not old news. I work at a center in Colorado, and I witness the wreckage drugs are still causing on a daily basis. Many of the students here vape and believe me, the heroin and meth they are using are far more dangerous than the vapes they use throughout the day, and I have yet to know someone who’s gone through the program, been a vaper, and died from complications from e-cigarettes.

We need to wake up here and stop getting emotionally wrapped up in pointless arguments that have basically been created by the media. These stories use alarming language and get the public upset, the public reacts, more stories come out of the reactions the media caused, and once it plays itself out, another one is created.

Listen to me now. If you want to live a happier, less stressful life, stop watching the news. Stop being told what to think or how to feel or what the “important issues” are. The drug problem IS still a thing, people are still dying, and many more still need help.

Let’s keep fighting, let’s minimize the distractions and keep our eye on the prize. We still have a lot of work to do.

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Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 11 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.