Nicotine Addiction and Vaping

Nicotine is found in many vape products currently on the market. In some cases, a JUULpod can contain as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. Long-term use of vape products can lead to nicotine addiction and other health problems. Compared to adults, teenagers are at a greater risk of nicotine addiction as their brains are still developing.

What Is Nicotine?

Nicotine is an addictive substance found in regular tobacco products like cigarettes. According to Truth Initiative, 98.7% of vape products also contain nicotine.

Today, vape products are often marketed as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco products, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). However, e-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA as an aid to quit smoking.

In fact, they may expose users to some of the same toxic chemicals found in traditional cigarettes. For this reason, nicotine-containing vape devices are still very dangerous.

Health problems caused by nicotine may include: 

  • Addiction
  • Brain development issues
  • Mood swings
  • Nicotine poisoning
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

Quick Facts About Nicotine in Vaping

  • A JUULpod often contains the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes.
  • Vape products have been sold since 2007 but were not widely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) until 2016.
  • Nicotine use in vape products can lead to addiction, stroke, and even death.
  • According to NIDA, teenagers are more likely to vape than smoking regular cigarettes. For example, 6.4% of 10th graders will smoke cigarettes, but 14% will vape.

Why Is Nicotine Dangerous?

Nicotine is highly addictive and dangerous because it rewires a person’s brain to crave the drug.

One of the most at-risk groups for nicotine addiction is teenagers.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the human brain does not stop developing until the age of 25. Until this time, the brain builds stronger connections, called synapses, that link nicotine to pleasure. As a result, teenagers are at a higher risk of addiction than adults.

Sadly, vaping is on the rise among teenagers. In 2018, 1 in 5 high schoolers used vape products at least once over a month’s timespan, according to the Surgeon General.

Can You Get Addicted to Nicotine from Vaping?

Yes, you can get addicted to nicotine from vaping if the vape product you use contains the substance.

Vape products can have anywhere from 6 to 60 milligrams of nicotine. The more nicotine present, the higher the risk of addiction.

Vape products also carry an extra risk because they can deliver greater amounts of nicotine in each dose.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, users can get a greater ‘hit’ of nicotine by increasing the voltage of their vape product. They can also buy e-liquids with higher nicotine concentrations.

Because of this, first-time users may not realize how much nicotine they are consuming and how this poses a threat to their health.

Side Effects of Nicotine Exposure from Vaping

Nicotine exposure can negatively affect the brain by creating stronger synapse connections between nicotine and pleasure. Over time, those who use nicotine will need the substance to function normally.

Since vape products (especially JUUL) often contain high levels of nicotine, there is also a risk of nicotine poisoning and complications such as seizures. It can even be deadly in some cases.

Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine addiction occurs when it is impossible for someone to stop using nicotine-containing products. By this point, nicotine use has become their main objective, and their daily activities revolve around it.

Signs of nicotine addiction include:

  • Cravings to vape or use other nicotine products
  • Feeling restless, mad, or anxious if you cannot vape
  • Going out of your way to obtain vape or other nicotine products
  • Wanting to stop using nicotine products but not being able to

90% of those with a substance abuse problem started using drugs before the age of 18.

Quitting nicotine products as soon as possible can make long-term recovery easier. This will also limit the negative health effects of nicotine addiction.

Nicotine Poisoning

Since vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, users may not realize how much nicotine they are consuming. This may put users at risk of nicotine poisoning, a phenomenon normally reported in those who swallow nicotine chewing gum, according to the Washington Post.

Signs of nicotine poisoning include: 

  • Blood pressure issues
  • Confusion
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Lack of muscular coordination
  • Seizures
  • Death

Children are at an especially high risk of nicotine poisoning because it takes a lower dose of nicotine to poison a child than an adult. Those who use JUUL products may have a higher risk of poisoning, as JUULpods, in particular, contain twice as much nicotine as other e-cigarettes.

Nicotine and Seizures

At this time, the FDA is currently investigating 127 reports of vape-related seizures. According to the report, seizures are a potential side effect of nicotine poisoning.

Nicotine and Stroke

Strokes are often linked to the use of traditional nicotine products like cigarettes. However, vape products with nicotine may also put people at risk of a stroke.

A 2019 study from the American College of Cardiology found that people who vaped were 30% more likely to have a stroke than those who didn’t.

Brain Development Issues

Nicotine use physically changes how the brain functions. 

These changes can lead to emotional and behavioral problems, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Learning issues
  • Mood swings
  • Risk of impulsive behavior

Nicotine causes synapses in the brain to reinforce the use of the drug. This can damage a person’s learning ability and attention span and ultimately lead to addiction. Teenagers are at a higher risk of the long-term mental issues associated with nicotine addiction.

Nicotine Withdrawal

Those who stop using nicotine after several months or years must go through a withdrawal phase. While nicotine withdrawal is generally safe, many experience uncomfortable symptoms that may drive them to use nicotine again.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability

Parents can support their teenager’s recovery by helping them manage their withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine Addiction and JUUL

JUUL Labs, Inc. has set itself apart from other e-cigarette companies, as its products often contain higher concentrations of nicotine and may be more addictive.

All JUUL products contain nicotine, according to a 2017 study from the Truth Initiative Schroeder Institute. A 2018 Vox report stated that JUUL products contain roughly 60 milligrams of nicotine in each millimeter of liquid, while other vape products have 6 to 30 milligrams.

Further, JUUL products have a higher level of nicotine concentration because they use nicotine salts in their e-liquid. By putting nicotine in a salt form, those who vape can absorb nicotine almost as fast as cigarettes without discomfort.

These factors put JUUL users at a higher risk of addiction. However, the Surgeon General noted that roughly 66% of people aged 15-24 who vape did not realize that JUUL products contain nicotine.

Addressing Nicotine Addiction From Vaping

If you believe that your child has developed a nicotine addiction from vaping, there are steps you can take to help them quit.

Here is what the Mayo Clinic recommends if your child has a nicotine addiction: 

  • Set a positive example. Do not smoke or use e-cigarette products yourself.
  • Do not get angry with your teen. Calmly voice your concerns instead.
  • Find out what your teen does not like about using vape products (such as how they could hurt their lungs and their athletic abilities).
  • Work with your teen to help them stop vaping and using other nicotine products.

Thankfully, there are many medical and informational resources available to help those addicted to nicotine.

Nicotine Addiction Lawsuits

If you or your child has developed a nicotine addiction from using vape products, there may be legal options available to you.

JUUL and other companies may have specifically targeted teenagers in their marketing campaigns. By making their products seem cool, they have put a new generation in danger of nicotine addiction.

Don’t wait — learn more by getting a free case review today.

Author:Vape Danger Editorial Team
Vape Danger Editorial Team

Vape Danger helps people understand the dangers of vape and e-cigarette products. Vaping devices are marketed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, vape pens and other devices may cause serious injuries and illnesses. The Vape Danger editorial team provides the latest studies and data to help readers make informed health and legal choices.

Last modified: August 26, 2019

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