What to Expect When You Give Up Your Vape

Nicotine is the incredibly addictive drug found in tobacco and nearly all vaping products. Research suggests that this drug is just as addictive as heroin and cocaine, making it extremely difficult for users to quit. More and more young people are finding that this recent trend of vaping (most commonly using the USB-shaped device, Juul) is more than just a seemingly harmless way to find stress relief from common triggers such as work and school: eventually, they find themselves dependent on their vape because of the nicotine it contains, and feel overwhelmingly anxious without it. I’m not afraid to say that six months ago, I was one of these people, but I didn’t know enough about the negative health effects to have the motivation to stop. However, after the surge of mysterious vape-related illnesses over the summer of 2019, the reality of the matter started to hit home for people, myself included. Not only is nicotine harmful to one’s health and happiness, but so is the vape juice itself. As someone who was being blindly controlled by their addiction and has experienced it to its end, I can say that letting go of my vape has been one of my proudest accomplishments. I feel better than ever. 

Nobody really talks about what happens to your mind and body once you stop vaping, and I think it’s a conversation that seriously needs to be had. I experienced an array of withdrawal symptoms that changed in form and intensity as time went on. It’s important to talk about how you might feel in the process of quitting so that you know your feelings are normal and valid. From the first few days to several months in, here’s how I felt after tossing my vape out for good.

The first few days

The first 7-10 days after you put down the vape will be the most difficult, but luckily it will start to get easier after that hurdle!

You can expect to experience: 

  • a strong desire or craving for nicotine

  • irritability or frustration

  • low mood

  • difficulty concentrating

  • anxiety

  • mood swings

  • headaches

  • sweating

  • restlessness

  • tremors

  • difficulty sleeping

  • increased appetite

  • abdominal pain/digestive issues

Phew! I know what you’re thinking -- now that’s a long list. But not everyone will experience every one of these symptoms, and most people only really notice a few of them. For me, the first few days felt like a sudden depressive episode, and my irritability was through the roof. I got angry and upset with people and situations very easily, even about things that never bothered me before. I remember just feeling super emotional and not knowing how to release it in a healthy way. Distracting myself through trying to solely focus my attention on work and school helped to slow down my raging thoughts and urges for nicotine. I also found that working out during this time helped me to lift some of that stress and tension off my shoulders.

The first few weeks

As noted, the first week was certainly the most challenging, but in the weeks following it became progressively easier to manage my withdrawal symptoms. I was very emotional about even the smallest little things and I cried much more often than usual -- sometimes, I had no idea why I was even crying. I didn’t really want to be bothered talking to other people because my mind was so preoccupied with wanting the addiction, but in hindsight, staying social and reaching out to friends and family to vent or just to reroute my thoughts was really beneficial. I had more stomach aches than usual and trouble sleeping at night, but melatonin came to my rescue a few nights when I really couldn’t shut my mind off long enough to grow tired. I had tons of mood swings, similar to during PMS, and just overall felt pretty down in the dumps. God bless my boyfriend for putting up with me every day! 

The second & third month

The desire to vape was still very present going into the third month after I quit, but the cravings became so minimal as to not affect every hour of every day. It was impossible to go a whole day and not think about how much I missed my vape, but these cravings were more like passing thoughts than they were major disturbances. My level of irritability slowly started to decrease over time until it was no longer noticeable to others. My sleeping habits went back to normal, and I found that I was exerting more effort and energy than ever into my daily workouts as my new primary form of stress relief.  I noticed I felt more awake during the day and I felt like I had gained a new sense of power not having to rely on a substance to make me feel normal or whole. 

Six months later, I still experience cravings for nicotine and find it very hard to be around my peers who still vape or smoke. Many former smokers and vapers will get urges to smoke for months or even years after they quit, but the good news is, it can only get easier the longer that you stay nicotine-free. Quitting vaping is a goal I can truly be proud of myself for achieving, and I hope that others will choose to respect their bodies and health and make the right choice to quit. 

You can do it!