By: Jordan Indyk, Clinician for School Based Clinical Services

In 2022, it was reported that 1 in 10 high school and middle school students have used e-cigarettes, among those youth more than 1 in 4 reported daily use. E-cigarette and vape usage is on the rise, students are starting at younger ages and frequency is increasing. Not only are students engaging in nicotine usage, but it has been found students are also increasingly using vapes to smoke marijuana.

South Plainfield School district has partnered with Wellspring Center for Prevention to provide an intensive response to the vaping issue. The program is called ASSIST (Additional Student Support In Substance Treatment) and has been implemented as a tool for students who have been caught vaping in school or who have tested positive for marijuana, using random drug testing. Students are then given the choice to engage in this five-week program as an alternative to a typical punitive response, including a long suspension.

ASSIST is a five-week group that students attend once a week during school hours. The first two and a half hours are spent on education, during this time students use a program called ASPIRE that teaches about the dangers of vaping and risks associated with it. Following the time completing ASPIRE modules, the students are engaged in an activity to review their lesson from that day by Wellspring staff. After these psycho-educational portions of the program, the students head into a clinical group to help relate the topics to their personal lives. A clinician from the agency leads the students in discussion about topics like triggers, coping mechanisms and stressors. Students are asked to make weekly goals throughout the program and usage is monitored through self-report from students. Results from the effects of the group are still being monitored although several students have reported using less as time within the group has progressed. Results from pre/post testing that has been administered show that all students have increased knowledge regarding vape usage. These results will continue to be monitored.  The overall goal of ASSIST is to disseminate information regarding the dangers of e-cigarette usage and to promote alternative coping mechanisms.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

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