Spot the Signs of Nicotine Addiction
Vaping isn’t just harmless water vapor. Most vapes contain the same highly addictive substance found in cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, and nicotine pouches – NICOTINE! Plus, inaccurate labeling and few industry regulations means nobody except for the companies that make vape products really knows what is in them.
How can you tell if you’re addicted to nicotine? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I panic when I forget my vape?
- Do I feel anxious when I can’t find my vape?
- Do I have a strong urge to take a hit when I’m in a stressful situation?
- Am I distracted by cravings when I’m in class, at practice, in church, or other places where I can’t vape?
- Do I wake up in the middle of the night to vape?
- Do I get headaches or feel sick, jittery or crabby when I try to cut back on vaping, or when I can’t vape when I want?
- Do I get nervous or anxious when my vape supply is close to running out?
- Do I spend a lot of energy hiding my vape habit from friends who don’t vape or my parents and teachers?
- Do I know what I’m putting into my lungs?
- Have I been in trouble for vaping but continued to do it anyway because it’s so hard to quit?
If you answered YES to one or more of these questions, you might be addicted to nicotine.
Why is nicotine dangerous?
Nicotine is an addictive stimulant that acts on same reward pathways as heroin or cocaine. It primes your brain for other future addictions!
The human brain continues to develop until age 25. Nicotine exposure prior to age 25 can change how your brain is formed, including the ability to pay attention, learn, and make decisions. Nicotine affects your mood and can permanently lower your impulse control. Impulse control is important because it allows you to appropriately manage your behavior and emotions.
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can make you very uncomfortable. Symptoms include anxious feelings such as a racing heart, distracted thinking, and sweaty palms. These symptoms may temporarily go away when you vape, but the cravings always come back along with the anxious feelings.
Too much nicotine can be dangerous, whether you inhale it, swallow it, or absorb it through your skin. It can be especially dangerous if younger siblings or pets get into your vape supplies. Alert an adult and call 911 if you think a baby or young child has ingested nicotine. Call your veterinarian if you believe your pet has ingested products containing nicotine.
Within the first 15 minutes of exposure, signs of nicotine poisoning, or being “nic sick” in teens and adults include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomachache & loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate & blood pressure
- Mouth watering
- Quick, heavy breathing
- Dizziness or tremors
- Confusion and anxiety
From 30 minutes - 4 hours later, symptoms shift and include:
- Shallow breathing
- Slower heartbeat and blood pressure
- Extreme fatigue
- Weakness, slow reflexes, or unable to control muscles
- Pale skin
Are You Ready to Quit?
Here are some resources to help you quit vaping and leave nicotine addiction behind.
The Break Away from Nicotine (BAN) program at Fargo Cass Public Health offers free quitting resources to Cass County, ND residents. The program includes personalized, face-to-face counseling and for residents over the age of 18, a limited supply of nicotine replacement therapy. Call 701.476.4083 to learn more.