When the first e-cigarettes were introduced to the U.S. in 2006, vaping was considered a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. In fact, the first commercially successful e-cigarette was invented by a man in China when his father died of lung cancer after years of heavy smoking.
The science, however, tells a very different story. Vaping has been linked to lung damage, brain alterations, heart disease, and other conditions. The FDA even gave e-cigarette maker Juul a slap on the wrist for marketing their products as safer than cigarettes without research to back up the claim.
Although e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco or the thousands of chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, they do contain nicotine, which is extremely addictive, especially for teens and adolescents.
Can You Get Addicted to Vaping?
Yes, you can get addicted to vaping. E-cigarettes and vape pens use various fluids and cartridges that contain nicotine, the substance in tobacco that makes cigarettes so addictive. Just like with traditional cigarettes, when an individual vapes, his or her body becomes more and more accustomed to the nicotine that he or she gets from vaping. At a certain point, the individual will find it very difficult to stop vaping and experience withdrawal symptoms whenever he or she has to go a period of time without vaping.
The Science Behind Vape Addiction
Yale Medicine reports that when vapor is inhaled, nicotine is quickly absorbed into blood vessels in the lungs and reaches the brain in about 10 seconds. At that point, nicotine disrupts neurotransmitters in the brain’s reward system by attaching to receptors and signaling the brain to release dopamine.
The feeling of pleasure caused by nicotine, unlike other substances, is short-lived. Nicotine quickly exits the body after being broken down by the liver, resulting in frequent cravings. Vaping can quickly become habitual and a coping mechanism for stress and depression.
Vaping can also lead to withdrawal symptoms such as:
Hunger and weight gain
Because vaping isn’t typically perceived as unhealthy as other substances, many people would rather go back to vaping than deal with withdrawal. Research has shown that the average smoker tries to quit at least 30 times before quitting for good. Many experts believe vape addiction is just as difficult to kick.
Why Are Teens at Higher Risk of Vape Addiction?
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, young people are much more susceptible to becoming addicted to vaping.
As we mentioned above, the human brain is not yet fully developed until around the age of 25. While in this not-yet-fully-developed state, the brain is like a sponge, ready to learn and form new synapses, or connections between brain cells. (Ever hear that children learn foreign languages faster than adults? Well, this is why.)
Addiction is essentially a form of learning and adaptation. Moreover, the areas of the brain associated with decision making and impulse control are, likewise, not yet fully developed. So it follows that young people with brains that are not yet fully developed would be more susceptible to addictive substances and behaviors.
Teens are often drawn to the design and ease of use of vaping systems. They don’t like the smell of smoke, but they enjoy e-cigarette flavors. One report found that 82.9 percent of youths who vape use flavored e-cigarettes.
Of course, it doesn’t help that leading vaping brands often target young people with advertising on platforms that don’t allow the advertising of conventional tobacco products.
West Valley Detox Can Help You Overcome Vaping Addiction
You don’t have to try 30 times before you stop vaping for good. From our co-ed medical detox center in Los Angeles, West Valley Detox & Residential can help teens and adults overcome uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and quit vaping.
To learn more about our co-ed detox program and vaping treatment services, contact West Valley Detox & Residential today.