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Is vaping addictive?

E-cigarettes are different from regular ones, but can you get addicted to them?


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Vaping is an electronic version of smoking cigarettes. Instead of smoke, you inhale vapour from an e-cigarette. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco or carbon monoxide. But, they do contain nicotine which is addictive and people can get addicted to vaping as a result.

E-cigarettes have a battery and a heating element. They also have a cartridge that usually holds a mixture of propylene glycol, water, flavouring and nicotine. When you inhale, the battery heats up and this creates vapour.

Sometimes people vape because they think it is healthier than smoking regular cigarettes, however, we do not know the long-term health effects of smoking e-cigarettes. Other people might use e-cigarettes as a step to quitting smoking but we do not have any long-term evidence that they work as a tobacco quitting tool.

Health professionals recommend that if you don’t smoke, don’t vape.

How can you get addicted to vaping?

As you inhale, your body is taking in nicotine, which is the addictive chemical also found in cigarettes.

The amount of nicotine in your e-cigarette usually depends on the brand you buy. You can also buy extra-strength cartridges that have more nicotine. You can also increase the e-cigarette’s voltage to get a greater hit of the substance.

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. When you inhale it, it starts to take effect within ten seconds. Nicotine also releases dopamine in your brain. This can at first improve your mood and behaviour, but in the long run it damages your mental well-being.

Your brain adapts to nicotine and then needs more and more of it. That way it can produce the same effect you felt when you first inhaled it. When you go into withdrawal, you will often vape to relieve the discomfort. Withdrawal is when you no longer feel the positive effects of nicotine and crave it as a result. Each person experiences withdrawal differently, and it usually sets in 4 to 24 hours after you smoke your last cigarette or e-cigarette.

This creates a cycle where you are relying on nicotine. You use it to relieve negative feelings caused by withdrawal. Through this process, you can become addicted. Recent studies suggest that nicotine can be as addictive as heroin and cocaine.

Read more about the effects of nicotine on your brain.

What are the consequences of a vaping addiction?

Although it is still an early area of research, data suggests vaping is linked to lung and heart problems.

Nicotine also affects how your brain develops, creating problems with learning and concentration. It can also damage your mental and physical well-being later in life.

When you are in withdrawal, your sleep, mood, and concentration can all be affected.

What can I do if I am addicted to vaping?

The earlier you become addicted to vaping, the harder it can be to give up. But, there are steps you can take to quit and supports that area available to you. 

When you first give up e-cigarettes, you can go into nicotine withdrawal. Your cravings will more than likely be strong at first, but they will decrease in time. Nicotine Replacement Therapy can help you deal with withdrawal and cravings. 

While your body readjusts, make sure you are eating a healthy, balanced diet. Get plenty of sleep, keep hydrated and exercise. Look after yourself as best you can, and try finding activities that take your mind off things when cravings hit. Remember, they will only last for a short time and in a few weeks, they should be gone completely. 

Read more about dealing with nicotine withdrawal.

Giving up e-cigarettes also can help you save money, as the cost of cartridges adds up as time goes on. Without having to spend it on vaping, you can have more money to spend on things that you need or enjoy.

Want to find out if you are addicted to vaping? Take our quiz to find out. 

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Published Decem­ber 20th2019
Last updated Feb­ru­ary 26th2020
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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