Nicotine Withdrawal and Vaping

Most vapes contain nicotine, which is very addictive. This means you may experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms when you quit vaping. Find out what you can do to help manage withdrawal. 

Understanding Nicotine Addiction

When you use vapes, your brain and body get used to having nicotine. This makes it harder to go without vaping because the nicotine level in your bloodstream drops when you aren’t vaping. This may cause unpleasant feelings, physical symptoms, and strong urges to vape. This is nicotine addiction.

Ask yourself the following questions. If the answer is yes to any of them, you might be addicted to vaping.

  • Do you continue to vape even though you want to quit or think it’s hurting you in some way?
  • Do you feel anxious or irritable when you want to use your vape, but can’t?
  • Do thoughts about vaping interrupt you when you are focused on other activities?
  • Have you ever tried to quit vaping, but couldn’t?
  • Do you feel like you have lost control over your vaping?

Learning more about nicotine addiction – and recognizing that you could be addicted – will help you understand why your body feels like it does and why sometimes it’s hard to stop thinking about vaping.  

Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal  

When you quit vaping, your brain and body must get used to not having nicotine and you may notice changes in how you think and feel. These changes are symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are different for everyone, but can be uncomfortable and can trigger cravings for nicotine. Common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:  

  • Feeling irritable, restless, or jittery
  • Having headaches
  • Feeling sad or down
  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling tired or groggy
  • Having trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Feeling hungrier than normal
  • Having intense cravings to vape

How to Handle Nicotine Withdrawal

Everyone experiences nicotine withdrawal differently. Withdrawal symptoms can make quitting difficult or frustrating for some people. Fortunately, the uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal will fade over time if you stay away from vapes. The longer you go without vaping, the more your body can get used to being nicotine-free. Over time, you will build confidence in your ability to stay vape-free and take back control of your mind and body.

The strategies below can help you cope with uncomfortable nicotine withdrawal symptoms.    

Ask for help from a doctor or health care professional. Discuss your plans to quit and ask how they can help you manage your nicotine withdrawal symptoms or other quitting concerns.  

Medications like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), varenicline, and bupropion are used to help people quit smoking cigarettes. These medications can help reduce cravings and other nicotine withdrawal symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved these medications to help people quit vaping, but if you are struggling with quitting, talk with your doctor or another health care professional about your challenges and whether medication might be right for you. 

Drink plenty of water. Make sure to drink a lot of water throughout the day. Water can help ease uncomfortable nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as hunger and fatigue. Drinking water may also help reduce cravings.   

Prioritize sleep. It is common to feel tired or groggy during the day or have problems sleeping at night when you are quitting. Make sleep a priority by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and practicing good sleep habits. Turn off screens at least an hour before bed and don’t sleep with your phone in your bedroom. Limit how much caffeine or alcohol you drink and avoid eating big meals close to bedtime. Exercising during the day can also help you to relax and feel sleepier at night.  

Choose healthy snacks. When you are quitting vapes, your appetite may increase. Keep a stash of healthy snacks in your bag or car. Crunchy snacks such as carrots and raw nuts can also help combat cravings by keeping your hands and mouth busy.  

Reach out for the support you need. Remember that you are not alone and you can lean on the people who want you to succeed. Tell your friends and family that you are quitting vaping and ask them for support as you quit. 

Be ready for cravings. When you first quit vaping, the urge to vape may feel strong. Make a plan for how you’ll handle cravings when they hit – this will help you resist the temptation to vape and ensure that you stay vape-free.  

Quit all tobacco. If you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products besides vapes, now is a good time to quit those too. These products contain nicotine and are harmful to your health. Becoming completely tobacco-free is the best thing you can do for your health. 

There are free tools to help you quit smoking. Sign up for SmokefreeTXT online or by texting QUIT to 47848, download a quit smoking app, or chat with an expert online using the National Cancer Institute’s LiveHelp service.   

How Nicotine Withdrawal Affects Your Mood 

As your body adjusts to life without nicotine, you may experience changes in your mood, increased anxiety, or sadness. If you become depressed or are having extreme sadness, do not ignore these feelings or keep them to yourself. Let someone who cares about you know and talk to a doctor or another trusted health care professional. 

If you need help now, call or text 988 or chat online for 24-hour, free and confidential support from trained counselors.

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