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May 12, 2022

Vaping & Addiction: What You Need To Know

According to recent surveys, only 14% of the American adult population smokes cigarettes. That's down from the 21% reported in 2005. While that might sound great from a health concern perspective, it doesn't tell the whole story. e-Cigarette (vaping) use has been increasing by double-digit percentages year-over-year for close to a decade.

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May 12, 2022

That's not good news given the addictive nature of the nicotine that is used in e-Cigarette solutions. To be very clear, the nicotine from vaping is exactly the same nicotine that comes from traditional cigarettes. While the removal of some of the harmful chemicals found in traditional cigarettes is a big move in the right direction, it does nothing to improve the plight of people who become addicted to vaping. A majority of these people are adolescents and young adults. Many of the health risks associated with e-liquids have not been around long enough to know the long-term effects, but studies are already showing signs of inhibited brain development, lung disease, lung injury, and mental health disruptions. To be clear, vaping is not the cause of addiction. It's the nicotine that comes from vaping fluids that causes addiction in addition to the ritual or habitual nature of hitting a vape pen.

Why is Nicotine So Addictive?

We don't often associate the dangers of heroin addiction with the dangers of nicotine addiction or cravings but make no mistake about it, nicotine addiction is very dangerous. It may not be able to produce an overdose reaction, but it can cause mental and physical harm, especially in young people. Nicotine is a chemical that attacks and attaches to the ACh receptors in the brain. This causes the brain to release endorphins throughout the body, which produce a kind of euphoria. In the case of nicotine use, the euphoria takes the form of things like relaxation, alertness or focus, and a certain mental/emotional calmness. As a person experiences nicotine euphoria, they like it and want more. Unfortunately, the "half-life" of nicotine is very short measured in minutes. That creates the need for more. Eventually, the brain and body develop a physiological dependence on nicotine. We all know that dependence often turns into an addiction. In addition to this, the habitual nature of hitting a vaping device adds to the need for continued use.

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

The medical community generally states that dependence becomes an addiction when withdrawal symptoms occur because of extended periods of abstinence. For the most part, withdrawal symptoms occur as the body and mind revolt towards being denied what they want and need.Is there such a thing as nicotine withdrawal? Yes, long-time nicotine users will experience physical and emotional reactions when denied access to nicotine whether from a cigarette or an e-cigarette (vape). Admittedly, nicotine withdrawal symptoms might not be of the "life-threatening" variety. However, they can be serious enough to warrant caution. Here are a few common withdrawal symptoms associated with nicotine use:

  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Increase in urges to use nicotine
  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • Sleeping issues
  • Compromised ability to concentrate
  • Increased appetite that could lead to weight gain

Treating Nicotine Addiction

We don't often hear about people getting treatment for their nicotine addictions, especially when those addictions come from vaping. We do hear about people who quit vaping "cold-turkey" and suffer the consequences for a week or two. The reality is we (Hollywood Hills Recovery) can offer treatment for nicotine addiction in much the same way we offer treatment for cocaine or heroin addiction. The first step in the process is the same. The nicotine user has to admit their nicotine addiction is harmful to their health and well-being. They then have to want help beating their addiction. The biggest difference in the treatment process between nicotine and other substance addictions is there is usually very little need for detox. What we prefer to focus on is treating the underlying causes of the need to use nicotine or other tobacco products. It works like this. People who use nicotine products regularly are often looking for ways to relax. They want to relax because they find portions of their lives to be unsettling and unfulfilling. Those are the issues we want to address. We know from our experiences as addiction treatment professionals that helping clients recognize the sources of their unhappiness opens the door to them arresting their nicotine addictions and leaving their vaping products behind for good.Ultimately, we want to help clients find the causes and give them the coping tools they will need to help them no longer desire the artificial short-lived comfort of nicotine euphoria. If you would like more information about nicotine addiction treatment, please give us a call.

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