Son is vaping again at Berkeley High

Over the summer, we worked with our teen to shake off a nicotine addiction that he picked up in the bathrooms of his middle school. He's now been at Berkeley High three days and he tells me that he's already vaping again because every time he goes to the bathroom there are kids in there offering him a hit and he is having a hard time saying "no." He thinks he doesn't need help and he can handle this, but it seems clear to me that he's not handling it well at all. On the other hand, it's been three days and maybe he can reset. Yesterday we came up with a reasonably high value reward if he can get through the week without vaping. He wasn't ready to sign up for Ditch Vape/This is quitting this morning but I will probably start there unless the BPN community has better starting points.

I really would like to see the school do their part to make it a little harder for him to access controlled substances, including nicotine, at school.

My question is this:

Have any other parents have tried to get the administration to do anything about keeping the bathrooms safe for kids who are walking that recovery line? He's already being offered more serious drugs in the bathrooms (codeine?!?) and he's a kid who really really really wants to be cool and fit in. He's going to have a very hard time staying clean if alternatives are constantly in his face.

Are there things the school used to do that parents could ask them to bring back? Are there any schools that handle bathroom drug use effectively?

Parent Replies

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I’m sorry to hear you and your child are going through this. I’m a family medicine doc who focuses on addiction medicine and here’s my take:

Nicotine dependence is serious, and should be addressed with evidence-based approaches which include behavioral interventions (This is Quitting, for example) AND pharmacotherapy — even in adolescents. Nicotine patches and gum are safe and effective in both teens and adults. I’m not paid by Big Pharma, I promise! I’m concerned about how teens are under treated for nicotine dependence.

(How do you know if your teen has nicotine dependence?  When they abstain from vaping, do they have:

•Craving for nicotine

•Dysphoria or depressed mood

•Sleep disturbances

•Irritability and anger


•Difficulty concentrating


•Increased appetite?)

Good luck to you and your son!

I’m a high school teacher and my school (not Berkeley High) has a vaping problem too in the restrooms that we are working on. Supposedly our school just installed sensors in the bathroom that can detect vaping and raise some sort of alarm. Not totally sure what these are but worth looking into. 

I wish I had a good answer.  But responding just to second that this is a problem.  My freshman encountered marajuana smoking in the bathroom within her first week.  Fortunately she is not at all inclined to imbibe.  And no one was actively encouraging her to join them.  When I was in High School we had a smoking area and that at least cut down on bathroom cigarette smokers.  But that creates its own problems and is not a good solution.  I thought there were bathrooms at BHS that some kids considered less likely or more likely to have vaping action.  But the one my daughter entered was one considered less likely so unofficially designating bathrooms doesn't seem to work either.  I will be interested to hear if anything has worked in the past.