If it feels like your vape has you trapped, you've come to the right place to plan your escape.
Follow regular Aussies as they talk through the first seven days of stopping vaping.
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Until you give it a go, it’s hard to know exactly what stopping vaping will be like for you.
Everyone’s different (CRAZY, right?), so there are looooaaaads of different things which contribute to your experience when you’re trying to give them up. One method doesn’t suit all, but there are ways to recognise what strategies might work for you.
Ok, first thing’s first: one of the most important things to think about is how dependent you are on nicotine.
What we’ve learnt from people who try to stop tobacco smoking is that their level of nicotine dependence is a good way to determine their likelihood of successfully stopping.
People with higher levels of nicotine dependence might need extra support along the way, to make the journey easier.
So take 5, have a think.
A quick way to assess your dependence is to ask yourself: how soon after you wake up do you vape? If you are vaping, or getting strong cravings to vape, within 30 minutes of waking up, this is a sign of nicotine dependence. Recognising this is the first step.
If this isn’t you, be careful as regular vaping can lead you down a path to nicotine dependence, where this can be your everyday reality.
Nicotine is insidious and powerful. It can manipulate your brain chemistry enough to create ‘memory prompts’ to vape, especially when you encounter situations you used to vape in.
People describe this process as ‘the habit’ but it’s important to know it is not separate from nicotine addiction, it is part of nicotine addiction because nicotine itself is influencing and biasing these memories.
For example: Things that were once quite meaningless before becoming a vaper – such as a particular fruit smell or even just something boring you were doing – could now become a powerful memory prompt generating cravings to vape. These memories have a special kind of power attached to them known as ‘motivational salience’.
They are formed with the intention of influencing decision making, prompting you to seek out vaping over doing other things when you come across them. WILD.
Your body will go into repair mode, which is actually awesome. But it can also be intense.
During this time, if you are nicotine dependent, your body will start experiencing withdrawal, and you may feel some symptoms for a week or two after stopping as your body and brain re-adjust. On the bright side, these feelings are temporary, and will *vanish* after a week or so. Byeeeeeeeeeeee.
If you’re feeling pissed off (or just a little bit sad), that’s totally normal.
Here are the most common symptoms from nicotine withdrawal:
- Bad moods (irritability/anger/frustration)
- Sad or feeling down (depressed)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
But hey, we get it. It’s hard to keep a cool head when it feels like nicotine’s got it’s claws in you. But if you keep at it, you can emerge victorious. Go on, take that W.
If it all feels like it’s too much, talk to a mate, a parent, or a doctor or call Quitline – you don’t have to do it alone.
It’s never too soon to ‘start to stop’. Your vape needs you, not the other way ‘round.
Our number one piece of advice? Contact a health professional.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor if you are vaping, even if you are not feeling ready to stop right now. If you are nicotine dependent, your doctor can help you manage these symptoms and help form a plan.
Calling Quitline is also a great step to take. Quitline is not just for tobacco smokers, but also for vapers. Their number is: 13 78 48. It’s a confidential service, and they’re full of great ideas to help.
Btw, and this is super important, if you are vaping and have been diagnosed with a mental illness or you are pregnant (or you think you could be pregnant), then you should talk to your doctor or health professional as soon as you can.
How to defeat a craving before or when it strikes
Vaping nicotine can stimulate production of dopamine which can make you feel good.
There are loads of ways to get dopamine. So have an alternative ‘dopamine reward’ ready to go. It could be as simple as your favourite treat, used in times and places you would normally vape.
Fake it till you make it. Strut that non-vaper identity.
There are a couple of ways you can hone this:
Try this on for size. Look in the mirror, say: I don’t vape. I’m not a vaper. (Best done in private, maybe not in an elevator full of people).
Get your mates to help: get a friend to offer you a vape in a place where you can’t vape and practice responding ‘nah thanks, I don’t vape’.
Imagine you’re looking at a photo of the worst possible situation you could ever find yourself in from continued vaping.
Now, describe this picture to yourself. What does this picture look like? Who is in it? What are the expressions on their faces? What are they thinking and feeling? What are you thinking and feeling?
Notice this image clearly. Take a mental snapshot of it. Now, when you get a craving to vape, that’s the image to use to counter the craving.
Go with us on this one. Think of nicotine like a stray cat. One that keeps coming wandering back to your house. It will keep rocking up, if you keep feeding it.
So imagine, what will happen if you don’t feed it?
Spoiler: it’ll stop coming back.
Use the image of the cat whenever temptation or a craving begins to arise.
Cravings are like a stray cat, feed it and it keeps coming back.
Don’t feed that cat!
Here are a few strategies to ‘stop cravings from starting’. Right from the get-go.
Avoid being near vapes
Avoid triggers over the first few weeks, where you can. Don’t underestimate the power of the habit. Just being near vapes can make you want to vape.
It’s easy to make the mistake in thinking “I can handle it” when best practice is just to avoid it.
Block the access
Can’t avoid it? Then ask the person, or people, you hang around with who vape to verbally give you an ‘ironclad’ guarantee or promise that they won’t vape around you, or give you their vape, even if you ask.
There are loads of super smart people out there who know all about ditching vapes.
Or at least help to get you started and point you in the right direction. First off, it’s a good idea to go and chat with your GP (General Practitioner, often the family Dr you’d usually go and see).