Project Description

Vaping Fast Facts

More than 16% of American 12th graders have used e-cigarettes in the past month. More than 4% of 8th graders have done so. Overall, more than 1 in 4 American high school students report having used an e-cigarette in the past month.

A national survey found a 78% increase in vaping among high school students between 2017 and 2018. Among middle school students, e-cigarette usage increased by 48% in the same one-year period. An estimated 3.05 million high schoolers and 570,000 middle schoolers vape.

The vapor produced by almost all e-cigarettes contains nicotine, a highly addictive and harmful substance. Nicotine is especially harmful to young people, whose brain development is hindered by the chemical.

Almost a third of teenagers who vape start smoking within six months. That’s more than three times the rate among teens who don’t vape. E-cigarette vapor often contains other harmful chemicals and substances that can cause both short-term and long-term health problems.

E-cigarette vapor often contains other harmful chemicals and substances that can cause both short-term and long-term health problems.

What is Vaping?

Vaping is the process of inhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette (commonly called an e-cigarette). The vapor is produced by heating a liquid inside the e-cigarette until the liquid turns into a mist that can be inhaled directly into the user’s lungs.

The vapor almost always contains nicotine, a toxic substance that is also highly addictive. The vapor usually also contains other chemicals and ultra-fine particles that can cause damage. The dangers of the vaping stem from the fact that users ingest these highly toxic substances directly into one of the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of their bodies.

Symptoms of Vaping Addiction

About 99% of the liquids used in e-cigarettes have been found to contain nicotine, even when their manufacturers claim that they are nicotine-free. Nicotine is found in tobacco, and it is considered to be as addictive as drugs such as heroin. When users vape, they are at high risk of developing a dependency on nicotine that is very difficult to overcome.

Symptoms of nicotine dependence include:

  • A strong, almost irresistible urge to vape
  • Continuing to vape even if you think that it’s harmful to you
  • Irritability when you can’t vape
  • Intrusive thoughts about vaping
  • Vaping behavior that causes problems with family, friends, school, or work
  • The inability to stop vaping even when you try

When you’re addicted to nicotine, you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you don’t vape for an extended period of time and the level of nicotine in your bloodstream drops.

Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:

  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Depressed mood
  • Hunger or food cravings
  • Intense craving for vaping

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

What Causes Vaping Addiction?

Nicotine is so addictive because it interferes with brain chemistry in a way that drives users to need ever-increasing doses in order to feel well. Vaping is likely to cause addiction because it very quickly and directly introduces nicotine into the lungs, where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered directly to the brain within seconds of inhalation.

Once in the brain, nicotine triggers the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters. One of these chemicals, called dopamine, stimulates parts of the brain that produce feelings of well-being, happiness, or even euphoria. The result is a quick, intense “high” that makes the user associate vaping with good feelings.

The problem is that the good feeling is very short-lived, much more so even than the high associated with other addictive drugs. The fleeting euphoria drives the user to continue vaping in order to maintain the good feeling.

Even worse, continued vaping decreases the brain’s sensitivity to dopamine, leading to a need for more frequent vaping to trigger the pleasant effects. Regular use also alters the brain circuitry that controls learning, stress, and impulse control. These changes can contribute to withdrawal symptoms.

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

Is Vaping Addiction Hereditary?

The reasons that people begin to vape and become addicted to the practice are complex. Environment, culture, peer pressure, and a long list of environmental factors play a role. However, there is evidence that susceptibility to nicotine addiction–as well as addiction to other substances–has an inherited component, too.

Studies have found that heritability of nicotine addiction risk may be as high as 80%. Scientists have not, though, been able to determine which genes might increase the risk, and it’s not clear how the inherited risk actually works in terms of brain chemistry.

In fact, analysis of study data has shown hundreds of different gene variations that may be a factor in addiction risk. These genes may affect the way that nerve cells communicate with each other in the brain, or they may affect the brain’s response to dopamine and other neurotransmitter chemicals.

Aside from the genetic component, there is strong evidence that people who grow up in households where vaping or tobacco use is present are much more likely to become addicted to nicotine themselves.

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

How is Vaping Addiction Detected?

Early detection of vaping behavior is essential in heading off the long-term consequences of the addiction. Spotting the signs of vaping can be difficult, especially for parents of children who are making an effort to hide their behavior.

Parents and loved ones should be on the lookout for these tell-tale signs of vaping:

  • Unusual devices in a child’s room or among their belongings. Vaping devices are not always easy to identify. Many e-cigarettes are designed to look like innocuous objects such as pens and flash drives. Another clue is the presence of paraphernalia such as vaping liquid refills and rechargeable batteries.
  • Unusual odors. Unlike smoking, which produces strong, tenacious odors, vaping produces very little in the way of lasting smells. However, many vaping liquids are infused with flavors that produce intense, often sweet scents while the user is vaping.
  • Unusual thirst. The chemicals in a vaping liquid often cause dehydration, leading the user to be more thirsty than normal.
  • Changes in food preferences. Vaping can cause decreased taste sensitivity, so users may begin to salt or season their food more enthusiastically.
  • Nosebleeds. Vaping dries out tissues inside the nose, this dryness can lead to frequent nosebleeds.
  • Mouth sores. Vaping also has been linked to sores in the mouth that are unusually slow to heal.
  • Coughing. Vaping can lead to a chronic cough similar to that experienced by smokers.

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

How is Vaping Addiction Diagnosed?

To determine whether or not a patient has an addiction to nicotine, a doctor will ask questions about the patient’s vaping behavior. The frequency of vaping and the length of time that the patient can go without vaping (especially after waking in the morning) is an indication of the intensity of the addiction. Differences in intensity will suggest different types of treatment that may be effective.

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

How is Vaping Addiction Treated?

Because vaping is a relatively recent phenomenon, the effectiveness of treatments for vaping-related nicotine addiction has not been thoroughly studied. Healthcare providers have been forced to resort to treatments developed for smoking-related addiction, but some of these treatments might not be effective for vaping addictions, especially among young users.

  • Nicotine replacement therapies. A common treatment for smoking-related nicotine addiction involves products that deliver nicotine in a way that is less harmful than smoking. Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, or other products relieve withdrawal symptoms and will gradually reduce the patient’s dependence on nicotine.
    However, vaping often delivers a higher dose of nicotine than smoking does, and nicotine replacements might not be sufficient to relieve withdrawal symptoms, a drawback that can make them less effective as a treatment.
  • Medications. Some antidepressants may reduce nicotine dependence by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. The drug varenicline (brand name Chantix) works by reducing the pleasurable effects of nicotine and controlling withdrawal symptoms. However, Chantix is not recommended for use by people under the age of 16.
  • Support groups. Peer support groups and addiction counseling can be helpful, especially when used in combination with other treatments.

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

How Does Vaping Addiction Progress?

Because many of the most severe health effects of smoking are linked to toxins other than nicotine, vaping is often thought to be safer than smoking. However, vaping comes with health risks of its own, and it is particularly risky for young people.

  • Nicotine interferes with the development of nerve cells in the brain. It can have a negative impact on the parts of the brain that control learning, impulse control, attention, and mood. The effects may be particularly pronounced in young people, whose brains continue to develop until well into young adulthood.
  • Vaping can increase the likelihood that a user will start smoking or become addicted to other drugs.
  • Vaping mist can contain very fine particles that may cause lung disease. Toxins such as heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and other carcinogens are also often present, increasing the risk of long-term health issues.
  • Flavoring chemicals, especially one called diacetyl, have been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a severe and potentially fatal lung disease.
  • Vitamin E acetate, a chemical often found in THC-based vaping products, has also been linked to cases of severe lung disease.

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

How Is Vaping Addiction Prevented?

Once a user is addicted to nicotine, the addiction is very difficult to break. Therefore, the best way to deal with the problem is to never begin vaping in the first place.

Some steps you can take to help prevent your children from experimenting with vaping include:

  • Make sure they’re educated about the dangers of vaping. It is likely that your child thinks vaping is a safe alternative to smoking. Make sure they know the health dangers posed by vaping and that they understand the seriousness of nicotine addiction.
  • Make them smart about vaping and marketing. Be sure your child knows how vaping manufacturers develop strategies to make their products appealing to young people.
  • Be alert to the warning signs. Keep lines of communication open with your child. Make it clear that they can talk to you about the pressures they face from their peers surrounding vaping.
  • Don’t vape or smoke yourself. Your child is much more likely to begin vaping if vaping or smoking is part of their home life.

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

Vaping Addiction Caregiver Tips

If your child or loved one is addicted to vaping, there are ways that you can help them to quit.

  • Help with education. A vaper has to want to quit, and misinformation about vaping can stand in the way of the desire to stop. Many young people don’t understand the dangers of vaping, and many don’t even know that the vaping liquid they use contains nicotine. When they understand the truth, they’re more likely to want to quit.
  • Point them toward resources. Online support resources such as Truth Initiative and BecomeAnEx are designed to help young people quit vaping.
  • Expect bumps in the road to quitting. For nicotine addicts, vaping becomes a way to deal with the stresses of everyday life. As the withdrawal symptoms peak, your loved one will need to find new ways to cope with stress. You can help by taking their frustrations in stride and not adding to the stress.
  • Be upbeat and supportive. The process of beating nicotine addiction is frustrating. Rather than focusing on your loved one’s setbacks along the way, emphasize your pride and enthusiasm for their desire to quit.

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

Vaping Addiction Brain Science

Because vaping delivers nicotine into the body in a different way than smoking or nicotine replacement therapies, scientists haven’t been entirely sure that vaping affects the brain the same way that smoking does. However, recent studies have shown that nicotine from vaping causes the same activation of the brain’s pleasure-and-reward centers. Resuming vaping after a period of abstinence also decreases withdrawal symptoms, suggesting that the user’s brain is responding the same way that smokers do in a similar situation.

Research is ongoing into whether nicotine addiction from vaping resembles addiction from smoking in every way, but initial studies suggest that the mechanism of addiction is very similar.

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

Vaping Addiction Research

Scientists are working on several research projects to expand on what is known about Vaping.  The research will improve knowledge about the factors that increase the risk for Vaping, as well as the causes, and best treatments, and will aid people living with Vaping and their caregivers.

We are currently gathering the information required to support projects such as Impact of Flavors on Nicotine Perception and Self-Administration Via E-cigarettes, and Electronic Cigarette Use During Pregnancyand REN-Project 2 Cigarette and E-cigarette Nicotine Content and E-liquid Flavors

*The medical information we gather and publish is vetted and intended to be up to date, accurate and express a spectrum of recognized scientific and medical points of view. The information comes from a nucleus of informed scientists, medical doctors, peer-reviewed scientific journals and the National Institute of Health. Please note, differing points of view among scientists and physicians are common. Every effort is employed to ensure the accuracy of these different points of view. That notwithstanding, it is incumbent on persons using this information to consult with his/her physician before reaching any conclusions. Our medical information and publications are not intended to be a substitute for consultation with one’s physician.

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