Vaping Drugs—Not Just Cannabis and Nicotine—Is on the Rise

vaping, marijuana in nature, deep thoughts, getting high
Photo by Getty Images

This piece is brought to you by the founder of the Global Drug Survey, Dr. Adam R. Winstock and Guy Jones, MChem and technical lead for Reagent Tests UK.

The rise in vape technology is not the first time that scientific innovation has changed the way we use drugs.

The invention of the hypodermic needle allowed purified morphine and cocaine extracted from their natural origins (the opium poppy and coca leaf respectively) to be delivered with previously unimaginable efficiency and dosing accuracy. The drive for both extraction and purification of the drugs, as well as the development of the needle, was not to intoxicate but to medicate. Western medicine relies heavily on being able to replicate dosing regimens that require knowing exactly how much of a particular drug you are giving to optimize the balance between therapeutic benefit and harm. A bit of heroin kills your pain, too much kills you.

While the drive behind vaping has been in part public heath (the driver behind e-cigarettes) and medicinal (offering medical cannabis users a way of using cannabis concentrates such as Butane Hash Oil without having to smoke weed is great), there’s no doubt that vaping cannabis concentrates offers cannabis users another way of getting high. It also offers huge business opportunities for new vape tech companies (the profit potential of which often results in them being snapped up by the big tobacco companies).

In previous Global Drug Survey (GDS) research, we have explored some of the pros and cons of BHO and vaping, and through GDS2015 and GDS2016, we conducted the largest studies on its use in the world. While its use may be associated with a less positive effect profile and perhaps a greater risk of unwanted effects among some users, there is little doubt that the use of BHO supports tobacco-free routes of use and exposes users to less tar and carcinogens than when cannabis is combusted.

This year GDS wants to move away from what we know to explore the relatively new phenomena of vaping drugs other than cannabis or nicotine.

Yep, you can vape other drugs, and you don’t need fancy tech either. Many heroin users already vape—though we incorrectly term it smoking—when they heat heroin on a foil and inhale the vaporized fumes. But that’s not what we are interested in. We want to find out what other drugs people are vaping, why they vape and how they think it affects their enjoyment and patterns of use.

So if you vape drugs (editor’s note: we vape weed!) and want to help us conduct the biggest study of drug use in the world, take part anonymously and confidentiality on your phone, tablet or laptop HERE.

Another editor’s note (same editor, second note): Still confused about this whole “vaping other drugs” thing? Here at HIGH TIMES, we love a good vape pen—check out our 2016 Vape Pen Review—but sometimes you really need to delve into the science of something to understand it. Thankfully, the folks at GDS have our backs! Check out their Essential Guide to Vaping Science and learn how almost any drug can be inhaled (yes, even LSD, although it’s often completely ineffective).  

Global Drug Survey, GDS

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