Vaping has been called a public health crisis and it is a particularly common practice among teens.1 But the risk of developing an addiction doesn’t just apply to adolescents. Anyone who vapes can get addicted.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping is when you inhale and exhale the aerosol (or vapor) that is produced by an e-cigarette or a similar device.2 The vapor, which is commonly mistaken for water vapor, is an aerosol made up of tiny particles that can contain toxic chemicals.
People vape with e-cigarettes, vape pens, and customized personal vaporizers. These devices typically have a mouthpiece, a battery, and a cartridge that contains the vaping liquid or juice. It also has a heating component that is powered by the battery. When the liquid contained in the vaping device is heated, it turns into a vapor, which the user inhales and exhales.
Vaping was first introduced in America in 2007 and it has since become extremely popular. JUUL is the most popular vaping product and is especially popular among teens because it is small and easy to hide, almost like a USB flash drive. The e-liquid also comes in sweet flavors like mint, fruit, crème brûlée, mango, and cucumber.
More than 5 million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2019 and about 1 million were using them daily.3 According to a 2013-2014 survey, 81 percent of current adolescent e-cigarette users cited appealing flavors as the primary reason for using them.4
Can Vaping Be Addictive?
Yes. Vaping devices contain e-liquid that is made with nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug. Other ingredients in e-liquid include liquid glycerin, propylene glycol (PG), and a variety of different flavorings.5 Doctors say the act of vaping can also be psychologically addictive, especially if it is associated with positive emotions or settings.6
According to the manufacturer of Juul, each “pod” of e-liquid delivers as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes.7 Consistently vaping massive amounts of nicotine like that can quickly lead to physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction. According to a 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, young people who use e-cigarettes are also more likely to become smokers, even if they are considered “low-risk” and would otherwise be unlikely to pick up the habit.8
Some people also vape THC, which further increases the risk of addiction and health problems. Vaping THC exposes the user to higher concentrations of THC, which is the chemical in marijuana that causes mind-altering effects. Consistent exposure increases the risk of physical dependence and addiction to THC.
What Are the Dangers of Vaping?
The Juul doesn’t contain many of the harmful chemicals that traditional cigarettes do, but researchers, health professionals, and public officials have all voiced serious concern about the dangers of vaping, especially with THC vaping products.9
Flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine vaporizers were once hailed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes and even a helpful stepping stone for those trying to quit smoking. While e-cigarettes may still help some adults quit smoking, recent research has linked these products to several serious health risks.
Short-term side effects of vaping can include:10
- Abdominal pain
- Eye irritation
- Dry mouth and skin
Other health risks and severe medical conditions associated with vaping include:
- Severe respiratory illness (primarily associated with THC vaping products)11
- Increased risk of cancer12
- Lung damage12
- Harmful brain alterations12
- Heart disease13
How Many People Have Died from Vaping?
As of February 18, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 68 deaths in 29 states and 2,807 lung injury cases linked to vaping that required hospitalization.15
How To Quit Vaping?
Nicotine is a fast-acting drug that starts affecting the brain just seconds after it is absorbed in the bloodstream. From there, it disrupts normal communication between neurotransmitters in the brain and triggers chemical reactions that produce temporary sensations like relaxation, euphoria, alertness, and calmness.
The feel-good sensations that the nicotine in vaping devices produces is very short-lived (often just a few minutes) and can leave you wanting another dose shortly after your first. It’s easy to see how this cycle could quickly get out of control and lead to addiction.
If you are trapped by your relationship with your vaping device and you feel like you can’t function normally without it, you may be addicted to it. E-cigarettes and vaping devices may be hard to give up, but it’s not impossible.
You can most certainly overcome a vaping addiction and there is help available. Some of the best ways to get started are:
- Ask an expert who has experience with smoking cessation for advice.
- Develop a personal plan to quit vaping using ideas from the National Institute of Health’s smokfree.gov website.
- Consider using medications and other nicotine replacement options like patches or gum.
- Have a set of go-to activities to distract yourself from cravings and urges to vape.
- Join an addiction recovery support group in your community.
- Distance yourself from friends who vape and places or environments that make you want to start vaping again.
If you are also addicted to alcohol or other drugs (prescription or illegal), the compassionate team at Nova Recovery Center can assist you by developing a personalized treatment plan to help you overcome your addictions. Call (512) 605-2955 today to get started.