Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT
In recent years, vaping has gained immense popularity among individuals of all ages. It has been marketed as a safer alternative to traditional smoking, but the truth is, vaping comes with its own set of health risks, especially when it comes to nicotine addiction. At California Prime Recovery, we’re dedicated to shedding light on the issue of vaping and nicotine addiction. In this blog, we’ll delve into the key aspects of this growing concern and help you understand the connection between vaping and addiction.
What is Vaping?
Before we delve into the details of nicotine addiction, it’s essential to understand what vaping is. Vaping refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling aerosol, often referred to as vapor, produced by an electronic cigarette or other vaping devices. These devices contain a liquid known as e-juice, which typically contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.
Types of Vapes
There are various types of vapes, also known as electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, each designed to suit different preferences and vaping styles. Here are some common types of vapes:
- Cigalikes are small, lightweight devices that closely resemble traditional cigarettes in size and appearance. They are typically disposable or use replaceable cartridges.
- Vape pens are cylindrical devices that are slightly larger than cigalikes. They often have a refillable tank for e-liquid and a rechargeable battery.
- Pod mods are compact devices that use pre-filled or refillable pods. They are easy to use and are popular among beginners. Pod mods can be disposable or have replaceable pods.
- Box mods are larger, more customizable devices with a box-shaped design. They often have advanced features such as variable wattage, temperature control, and larger e-liquid capacities.
- Mechanical mods are unregulated devices without electronic circuitry. They operate based on a direct connection between the battery and the atomizer. Mechanical mods require a good understanding of battery safety and Ohm’s Law.
- Squonk mods are similar to box mods but come with a built-in e-liquid bottle. They have a hollow space that allows users to squeeze the bottle to deliver e-liquid to the atomizer without dripping.
- Disposable vapes are single-use devices that come pre-filled with e-liquid and are typically discarded after use. They are convenient and do not require refilling or charging.
Dry Herb Vaporizers:
- Dry herb vaporizers are designed for vaporizing dried herbs, such as cannabis. They have a heating chamber to vaporize the plant material without combustion.
- Desktop vaporizers are larger devices designed for use at home. They offer precise temperature control and are often used for dry herbs or concentrates.
- Sub-ohm tanks are atomizers with coils that have a resistance below 1.0 ohm. They are commonly used with box mods and can produce large vapor clouds.
- Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers (RDAs) are atomizers that require users to manually drip e-liquid onto the coils. They are popular among enthusiasts who enjoy building their own coils.
It’s important to note that the use of vapes, especially for nicotine or cannabis consumption, should be approached responsibly. Additionally, local regulations regarding the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices vary, and individuals should be aware of and comply with applicable laws.
How Much Nicotine is in Vapes?
The nicotine content in vape products can vary widely depending on factors such as the type of device, the brand of e-liquid or pod, and the specific formulation. Nicotine concentrations are typically measured in milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL). Here’s a general guide to the nicotine levels commonly found in vape products:
Nicotine-Free (0 mg/mL):
- Some e-liquids are nicotine-free, catering to individuals who enjoy vaping without the addictive substance. These are often preferred by those who have successfully quit nicotine use but still engage in the sensory aspects of vaping.
Low Nicotine (3 mg/mL – 6 mg/mL):
- E-liquids with low nicotine concentrations, typically ranging from 3 mg/mL to 6 mg/mL, are suitable for vapers who want a minimal nicotine dose. This range is often chosen by individuals who are gradually reducing their nicotine intake.
Medium Nicotine (9 mg/mL – 12 mg/mL):
- Medium nicotine concentrations, ranging from 9 mg/mL to 12 mg/mL, are chosen by vapers who prefer a moderate amount of nicotine. This range is suitable for those who are not heavy smokers or who are in the process of tapering down nicotine levels.
High Nicotine (18 mg/mL – 36 mg/mL):
- High nicotine concentrations, ranging from 18 mg/mL to 36 mg/mL, are typically used by individuals who were heavy smokers or who find lower concentrations insufficient in satisfying their cravings. However, it’s essential to note that higher concentrations may increase the risk of nicotine dependence.
Nicotine Salt E-Liquids:
- Nicotine salt e-liquids are a specific type of formulation that can have higher nicotine concentrations without the harsh throat hit associated with freebase nicotine. Nicotine salt concentrations can range from 20 mg/mL to 50 mg/mL.
It’s crucial for users to be aware of the nicotine concentration in the e-liquids or pods they choose, especially for those who are attempting to quit or reduce nicotine intake.
Why Do People Vape?
People vape for various reasons, and the motivations can differ among individuals. Here are some common reasons why people choose to vape:
- One of the most commonly cited reasons for vaping is smoking cessation. Some individuals use vaping as a tool to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. Vaping provides a way to satisfy nicotine cravings without the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.
Reduced Harm Perception:
- Many people perceive vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking. While the long-term health effects of vaping are still being studied, it is generally considered to be less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes due to the absence of combustion and tobacco-related toxins.
- Vaping allows users to enjoy a wide range of flavors, from traditional tobacco and menthol to fruity, dessert, or beverage-inspired flavors. The variety of flavors contributes to the appeal of vaping.
- Vaping is often seen as more convenient than smoking. Vape devices are portable, and users can vape in various settings where smoking may be prohibited.
- Vaping devices come in different types, including vape pens, pod systems, and box mods, offering users the ability to customize their vaping experience. Adjustable settings such as wattage and airflow allow for personalization.
Social and Recreational Use:
- Vaping is sometimes used socially or recreationally, similar to smoking. Some individuals enjoy the act of vaping and the social aspect of sharing flavors or trying new devices with friends.
- Some people find vaping to be a stress-relieving activity. The act of inhaling and exhaling vapor, combined with the sensory experience of flavors, can have a calming effect for some individuals.
- In regions where cannabis is legal, vaping is a popular method of consuming both nicotine and cannabis. Cannabis vape pens or devices allow for discreet and controlled consumption.
Hobby and Enthusiast Culture:
- Vaping has developed a community and culture of enthusiasts who enjoy exploring new devices, building their own coils, and participating in vaping-related events. For some, vaping becomes a hobby.
It’s important to note that while vaping may have potential benefits for those using it as a smoking cessation tool, there are health concerns associated with vaping, particularly among non-smokers and young people.
Side Effects of Vaping
While vaping is often considered a less harmful alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, it is not without potential side effects. The long-term health effects of vaping are still being studied, and the following list includes some of the reported side effects associated with vaping:
- Vaping has been linked to respiratory issues, including coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Some individuals may experience irritation of the throat and mouth.
- Many e-cigarettes and vaping products contain nicotine, which is an addictive substance. Regular use of nicotine-containing products can lead to dependence and addiction.
Dry Mouth and Throat Irritation:
- Vaping can cause dry mouth and irritation of the throat, especially if the e-liquid used contains propylene glycol.
- Some users have reported experiencing headaches after vaping. The cause of these headaches may be related to dehydration, nicotine levels, or other factors.
Nausea and Dizziness:
- Nicotine can cause nausea and dizziness, particularly in individuals who are not accustomed to nicotine or who use high-nicotine products.
- Vaping may lead to gastrointestinal issues, including nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain, especially if the e-liquid is swallowed.
Increased Heart Rate:
- Nicotine in vaping products can increase heart rate and blood pressure. This effect may pose risks, particularly for individuals with underlying cardiovascular conditions.
Insomnia and Sleep Disturbances:
- Nicotine is a stimulant, and vaping before bedtime may contribute to insomnia and sleep disturbances.
- Some individuals may be allergic to certain ingredients in e-liquids or materials used in vaping devices, leading to allergic reactions.
Popcorn Lung (Bronchiolitis Obliterans):
- The inhalation of diacetyl, a chemical sometimes found in e-liquids, has been associated with a condition called “popcorn lung.” This condition damages the airways and can cause coughing and wheezing.
Lung Injury (EVALI):
- In rare cases, severe lung injury known as EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury) has been reported. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and gastrointestinal issues.
It’s crucial to note that the severity and occurrence of side effects can vary among individuals, and not everyone will experience these issues. Additionally, the safety of specific ingredients in e-liquids, such as flavorings and additives, is an ongoing area of research.
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Vaping is considered less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, but it is not without risks, particularly when it comes to nicotine addiction and associated health concerns.
While some individuals have successfully used vaping as a smoking cessation tool, it’s essential to be cautious, as it can also lead to nicotine addiction.
Signs of nicotine addiction may include cravings, irritability, restlessness when trying to quit, and an increased tolerance to nicotine.
Yes, there are nicotine-free e-juices available for those who enjoy vaping but want to avoid nicotine altogether.
Professional help can be beneficial when quitting vaping, especially if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms or struggle to quit on your own.