More Popular Than Ever
Its skyrocketing popularity is at an epidemic level, with roughly 1 in 5 high school students in 2020 reported that they vape. Youth are drawn to its tech-driven design and customizable shapes, colors and flavors. There’s something all too familiar about vapes, or e-cigarettes, that often is forgotten. Like cigarettes before them, nearly all vapes contain addictive nicotine. According to the CDC, 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in the United States contain nicotine. So, while many might have heard that vaping isn’t as addictive or as dangerous as smoking, the fact is that its high levels of nicotine make it highly addictive and put those who actively vape at risk for its long-lasting affects.
Nicotine and the Brain
Nicotine affects the brain, and the more you vape, the more the brain gets used to it. Over time, your brain will require higher levels of nicotine. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms that make quitting difficult. It also changes how the brain is wired. When you vape, nicotine transforms how synapses in your brain are formed. Since the brain grows until around the age of 25, young people are especially vulnerable and are often quickly addicted. But nicotine does more than prime the brain for addiction — it can also harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control.
Withdrawal and Addiction
In a short amount of time, the body and brain become accustomed to nicotine. Some vaping devices contain higher levels of nicotine than others. With a high tolerance to nicotine, it can make it difficult to quit. When you go without vaping, the nicotine level in your bloodstream drops. This produces a series of unpleasant feelings, physical symptoms and strong urges to vape. Learning to recognize the signs of addiction is key to helping you quit. Signs of addiction include vaping even though you want to stop, feeling anxious or irritable when you can’t vape, or thinking about vaping when you’re focused on other activities. Once you decide to quit, managing the symptoms of withdrawal is the next obstacle. During this time, the body and brain must get used to going without nicotine. For most people, the physical sensations can be unpleasant, including feeling irritable, or having headaches, anxiety or intense cravings. Over time, the feelings will fade if you stay away from vapes.
Quitting vaping isn’t easy, which is why getting support from family and friends is crucial. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and eat healthy while your body adjusts. Way To Quit and See Through the Vape offer free and confidential tools that are proven to help you quit, like free nicotine patches, text support, coaching, and more.
If you’re trying to prevent your teen from getting addicted to vaping in the first place, start having regular conversations about vaping with them. Educate yourself on the dangers of vaping and talk to them about your concerns. Starting the conversation early about vaping and tobacco products is critical to paving the way to an addiction-free future. Download our conversation guide today.