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Why is everyone talking about vaping?

Why is everyone talking about Vaping?

Risa Turetsky
Pitkin County Public Health
Courtney Dunn
Prevention Specialist, Aspen School District

We want to talk about vaping, but first we want you to think about the young person in your life, whether it’s your child or another child or children in your life. Take a moment to reflect on what you want most for this young person. Maybe it’s health or happiness or reaching their dreams. Let’s start there. While concerns around vaping among youth are real, and we will speak to them here, keeping the bigger picture in mind is really helpful, and lays the foundation to be able to best support our kids as they learn to make important decisions for themselves, including but certainly not limited to vaping.

Now about vaping

Vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes containing nicotine (you can vape other substances, but for this article we are referring to nicotine vaping), has been all over the news recently so you may have heard about it. The U.S. FDA and Surgeon General’s offices have labeled teen vaping an “epidemic”, however the situation in Colorado is unique. Colorado youth are vaping nicotine at 2x the national average and ranking number one in the country. And, in the past few years in the Roaring Fork Valley, the percent of young people who report vaping recently (within the past month) has doubled.

So what, isn’t it just flavored water? (Answer: No!)

E-cigarettes are just what they sound like – electronic devices to get nicotine into your body. Like a traditional cigarette but with a battery and with a liquid containing nicotine instead of the tobacco leaves. Just about every e-cigarette product on the market has nicotine in it, even if the label does not clearly say it (there are national laws that will regulate this but haven’t gone into effect yet). Then there are a host of other chemicals that create the flavor, the “feel”, and the cloud. This is an image from the CDC about the contents:

Colorado has the highest rate of high school students who reported vaping on the 2017 Healthy Kids Survey among the 37 states that participated in the survey.

These chemicals are concerning in and of themselves – there are several known carcinogens and there are also several toxins that are approved for eating but not approved for inhalation, and experience shows they may be toxic when inhaled. CNN’s Juul and the Vape Debate video does a good job of explaining the potential harms of the e-cigarette contents.

However, the biggest concern is the nicotine. Juul, the e-cigarette product that has captured ~70% of the youth market and looks similar to a flash drive, has small interchangeable pods that contain the “vape juice” or liquid nicotine and flavoring. The pods have the same amount of nicotine as 1 pack of cigarettes (and take about 200 puffs to finish). Concerns about nicotine:

    • Nicotine changes the way the brain develops, impacting long term learning and concentration. The teenage brain is developing until the age of 25. Early exposure to nicotine actually changes the construction of brain pathways.
    • Nicotine impacts short term learning, focus, and memory. While kids might feel temporarily focused after a rip from their vape device, that high wears off in about 30 minutes and leaves them antsy and distracted.
  • Nicotine is highly addictive to young people. Nicotine is one of the most highly addictive substances. Young people are particularly susceptible to addiction because of their brain development, and it can lead to greater propensity to addiction in general.

What can we do?

  1. Stay informed. You’ve taken the first step by reading this article. There are many more helpful resources, some of which are listed below. Keep reading, but most of all, ask the young people in your life what they know.
  • Talk to your kids. Before you start the conversation with a young person about vaping, reflect on your personal point of view, your ability to be a role model, what you want the result of the conversation to be, and reflect on the context of the conversation – are you preventing a situation or responding to one?

During the conversation, use open-ended questions to keep the conversation going. Affirm the young person by focusing on strengths and assets that they have. Use reflective listening by confirming what you are hearing; you can do this by repeating and rephrasing, and paraphrasing what you are hearing, and by acknowledging a feeling.

When talking to your young person, empathize with their feelings, avoid showing judgment, keep asking questions and check for understanding, celebrate their strengths, know when you need to walk away or reschedule the conversation, help them practice skills that reduce stress, and help them get involved with positive activities.

Remember to have ongoing conversations with your youth about vaping. This is not a one-time conversation, or a conversation only during times of discipline or stress.

Check out Speak Now Colorado for practical tips and more information about being a trusted adult for the young people in your life.

  • Set clear rules and expectations. Whether you’re a parent, a coach, or anyone else who works closely with young people, you can help change the game. Setting clear rules and expectations not only gives young people boundaries, it makes your values and beliefs clear. Plus, it may give them a way to say “I’ll pass” when presented with a peer pressure situation.
  • Reach out when you need support. There are lots of other people working on this too. Your best resource is in the schools – reach out to your child’s school and find out what resources are available. You can also check out the Colorado QuitLine – Kids can join the QuitLine from the age of 12 and even use on online-only platform.
  • Support local and state policy efforts. Follow organizations like Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids to know what’s happening.


24 HOURS OF VERT For Aspen Strong

“You will feel better than this, maybe not yet, but you will. You just keep living until you are alive again.”
24 hours of Vert for Aspen Strong

24 hours of Vert for Aspen Strong

 In March I’ll be attempting to complete a 24 hour effort on skis to raise funds for The Aspen Strong Foundation, a non-profit that promotes access to mental health in the Roaring Fork Valley. I’ll be honest, I’m not going to beat the Catalonian wunder kid Killian Jornet, who climbed over 78,0000 feet in a 24 hour period last month to set the world record. For one, this attempt will be 8,0000 feet higher, an altitude that produces aerobic perfomances that are about 12-15% slower, even for acclimatized athletes. Secondly, I’m pretty sure that Killian is an alien, with one of the highest VO2 max ever recorded and a seemingly un-human ability to recover, he excels at any endurance event he attempts, especially those of the Ultra variety.
 So for the ‘competitive’ side of this event I’m shooting for Mike Foote’s more attainable, and decidedly less sexy, North American record of 61,2000 ft. Mike set his record In Whitefish, Montana, with a solid crew assisting him during his transitions. Mike Is an incredibly accomplished ultra athlete, with a resume that any runner or skier would kill for. I view his record as a pretty stout one, and am honestly unsure of my ability to match his effort as I have far less experience in events of this nature.
 I suffered a back injury in my teens that ultimately resulted in two back surgeries and lingering nerve damage. As such my ability to push myself in extreme running and cycling and triathlon events has been rather limited. Skinning is perhaps the easiest thing on my back so this effort should allow me to push myself in a way that I find difficult to do in any other fashion.
 To be completely honest, this event is not really about reaching a certain number, ultimately this is a personal challenge to test my limits and help inspire a change in the dialogue surrounding mental illness.
I’ve battled with mental illness my entire life. Addiction, depression, and disordered eating have simply gotten the best of me at times; leaving me helpless, broken and even suicidal. If it weren’t for me stumbling into the world of endurance sports I am honestly not sure I would have come out the other side of my afflictions alive. This is why I believe that it is important to use this personal challenge as a platform to fund-raise for mental health . While exercise and mountain landscapes can certainly be an antidote to a variety of mental illnesses, they often don’t resolve the underlying issues that are at the root of an individual’s problem. This is why organizations such as Aspen Strong are so vital, as they offer a lifeline to those in need. Mental illness is significantly under-addressed by society and Aspen Strong helps to fills this gap locally.
 Colorado has a relatively long history of 24 hour vertical records on skis. In 2006 Jimmy Faust and Greg Hill climbed 50,100 feet at the 24 Hours Of Sunlight to set the record. Two years later Eric Sullivan skied 51,068, again at the Sunlight event, breaking their record by a slim margin. Polly Mclean was also there that day and managed to raise the women’s 24 Hour Record to 33,000 feet and change. Those efforts have since been broken but the history of these events runs deep, especially in the Roaring Fork Valley.
 Long events like this are undoubtedly more mental than physical. The highs and lows that one experiences throughout the course of a day are sure to test the will and desire of any athlete. A unique physical challenge that this event presents is the abuse that the feet must endure. Anyone that has spent a full day skinning in ski boots knows how torturous they can be. I’ll have a couple boots on standby but am rather nervous about how they will hold up after 12 hours. Pushing yourself your legs to keep moving uphill is a matter of exertion, while dealing with discomfort in an bodily area tests an athlete’s pain tolerance.
 Nutrition is always a major aspect of these events, luckily I’ll have my wife Kylee, a registered dietitian, helping me to nail my plan. I’ll be taking in a healthy amount of Skratch to keep me hydrated and a ton of Skratch portables, made by lovely wife, to keep me stocked up on calories. For the light side of things, Light and Motion hooked me up with a fantastic headlamp to keep the groomers nice and bright.
 I hope that my effort can play some small part in reducing the stigma around mental illness. The same characteristics that make me prone to mental maladies have also allowed me to excel in other areas of my life. Acknowledging and addressing our defects does not makes us weak, rather, it is in fighting these demons that we truly become strong.
     -Sean Vanhorn

Want to join me in making a difference?

Give a little bit to Aspen Strong, any donation will help make an impact by promoting better access to mental health treatment in the Roaring Fork Valley.

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2019 Hike Hope Heal POSTER CONTEST

Designs must included the following:
* 6th Annual Hike Hope Heal
* August 17th 2019 Herron Park Aspen
* Suicide is preventable.

All entries must be received no later than May 31st 2019.

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Body Positivity Starts With YOU

written by: ED Care
So much of our time is spent taking in messages from the world around us. Whether we realize it or not, this constant bombardment can have a devastating impact on our mental health. “Do this”, “Eat that”, “Tone up”, “Slim down” – on and on it goes. The danger comes when we begin to internalize these very external opinions about how we need to look, and in turn, how we should then feel. We have become numb to the messages that matter most. The ones that come unbiasedly from within.

So how can we begin to retrain and strengthen our inner self-advocate? At EDCare, we believe body positivity starts with one very important person, YOU! We know this isn’t always an easy connection to rekindle. To help you establish a happier and healthier way of looking at yourself and your body here are a list of things you can do to help boost your body positivity.

10 Things to Help you Feel at Peace with Your Body:

  1. Appreciate all of the amazing things your body can do – your body is a gift.
    Celebrate all of the incredible things your body does for you every single day. Have gratitude that your body allows you to breathe, laugh, dream, and so much more.
  2. Keep a list of at least 5 things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with the way you look.
    Read your list every day, and add to it as you realize more and more qualities you love about yourself.
  3. Remind yourself “true beauty” is not simply skin deep. When you love yourself for your unique and beautiful qualities, you carry yourself with a sense of openness, self-acceptance, and confidence that makes you truly beautiful. Regardless of how you are dressed, your beauty will shine from within.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person.
    When you see yourself in your mind or in a mirror, choose not to focus on specific body parts. You are so much more than certain physical characteristics. See yourself as a complete human being.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.
    Feeling good about yourself and your body becomes effortless when you are around others who are supportive and who understand the importance of loving and accepting yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Eliminate any voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or you are a “bad” person.
    Work to overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you begin to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few, quick affirmations such as: “I accept my body as it is,” “I am beautiful just as I am,” or “I am grateful for all the parts of my body.”
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body.
    Every single human being’s body is different and should be celebrated because it’s special and unique to you. How boring would the world be if everyone looked the same??? Own your beautiful uniqueness.
  8. Become a critical viewer of social media messages.
    Pay attention to slogans, images, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Remind yourself that many of them are not real. Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself and find body-positive ambassadors instead!
  9. Do something kind for yourself—you deserve it.
    Self-care is such a vital part of connecting with yourself – mind and body. Take a bubble bath, relax in the park, make time for a peaceful nap, do what makes you happy.
  10. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others.
    Find your place by helping others for a cause you feel passionate about. Reaching out will help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive impact in our world.

If you or a loved one think you may have an eating disorder, know that you are not alone and help is available. EDCare has 4 outstanding treatment centers in Denver, Colorado Springs, Kansas City, and Lincoln ready to help you achieve lasting recovery. For more information or to schedule a free, confidential assessment call us at 866-771-0861 or visit us online at

More More More More

More More More More

In this day and age we are continuously trying to improve upon ourselves. Fortunately, technology provides us with the resources that allow us to better ourselves with the click of a button. Want to learn how to complete a home improvement project on your own? There are countless apps available to help you to achieve this task. But what about the websites and apps you have seen to track exercise and calories lost, or help monitor your food intake by having you write down everything you’ve eaten for the entire day? They have you set weight loss goals and the only way to keep your goal if you’ve reached your food limit is to exercise more.
Websites like or the RunKeeper app are meant to help individuals lead a healthy lifestyle, but what about those who start with the goal of losing 10 pounds and become obsessed? It’s easy to develop tunnel vision once you start counting calories and eating disorder awareness advocates are concerned that this could easily turn into anorexia or bulimia. In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their life.

Reach out if you think you have disordered eating habits

An estimated 30 million people in the U.S. have an eating disorder in a given year. Despite the stereotype that eating disorders only affect young women and teen girls, nearly 1/3 of those with eating disorders are men. More than 13% of women over 50 engage in disordered eating. It’s an issue that can affect anyone from any walk of life.

Some eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa – characterized by an obsessive fear of weight gain, which can lead to calorie restricting, purging calories, and compulsive exercise.
  • Binge Eating Disorder – characterized by frequent and compulsive overeating, marked by distress and lack of control.
  • Bulimia Nervosa – characterized by bingeing and purging food.
  • OSFED (Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders) – there are many ways in which people might engage in disordered eating behaviors, and sometimes they don’t fit neatly into a defined disorder. This can include body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive thoughts related to body size, and orthorexia, a preoccupation with healthy eating, “clean foods,” and excessive exercise.

Eating disorders are mental health disorders with physical symptoms. Like any mental health disorder, there are barriers to treatment, with more than 70% of those with eating disorders not getting help.

One of those barriers is feeling like you aren’t “sick enough” to get help, or that you don’t look thin enough to have a serious problem. But the truth is it’s never too early to seek out help if you might have an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are the most fatal mental health disorders, both because of the physical complications of disordered eating, and because it leads some of its sufferers to suicide.

The important detail to keep in mind is that eating disorders can be treated, and in fact up to 80% of those who complete treatment for an eating disorder are able to recover or improve significantly. Treatment can vary widely and could include therapy, group sessions, guidance from nutritional professionals, or medication. Often someone with an eating disorder will also be living with another mental health disorder, like anxiety or bipolar disorder, and so working with a mental health professional can make it easier to address all causes of disordered eating.

If you or someone you know might be engaging in disordered eating, consider getting help sooner rather than later.

While recovery is possible at any stage, early intervention can make recovery significantly less difficult for someone, both because the behaviors are less ingrained, and because disordered eating has done less damage to their body.

Get a checkup from your neck up.

Brief screenings are the quickest way to determine if you or someone you care about should connect with a mental health professional.

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