Preventing e-cigarette use among high-risk adolescents: A trauma-informed prevention approach

Feb 26, 2021

Young people with a history of trauma or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are increasingly turning to tobacco and nicotine products to cope with trauma symptoms. Recent findings show that vaping nicotine is now widespread among high school students. Indeed, American teens now use electronic cigarettes more than combustible cigarettes. This is alarming because nicotine use during adolescence harms the developing teen brain and increases the risk for nicotine dependence throughout life.

Few programs exist to quell e-cigarette use among adolescents who are exposed to childhood trauma. That’s why we developed Rise Above, an innovative trauma-informed, e-cigarette and other drug (EOD) preventive intervention. An article describing the development of and contents of the Rise Above intervention, "Preventing E-cigarette use among high-risk adolescents: A trauma-informed prevention approach", was recently published in Addictive Behavior. Our community-driven program covers trauma, youth EOD use, psycho-social-emotional development and prosocial behavior.

Using numerous evidence-based substance use prevention strategies, Rise Above seeks to cultivate wellness through identifying and attending to mental health issues, promoting competence through education and skill-building and ultimately preventing future risky behaviors. The program meets most of the knowledge and skills recommended by the CDC Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) and is notably compelling in the way it provides experiential and interactive activities that allow youth to personalize and practice new skills and information. We believe in the power of Rise Above to instill a sense of resilience and empowerment among youth who are recovering from trauma as well as to promote a drug-free life.