Vape addict seriously surprised at what happened when they finally quit cold turkey
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Imagine getting off a flight to America about to embark on the holiday of your dreams in Disney World, only - instead of excitement - your first thought is 'where the f*ck is the smoking area? I'm gasping for a vape'.
Yep, it's giving 'What a sad little life, Jane'. But that's exactly what my life had become since getting hooked on vapes. And I hated it. I hated being addicted to something.
What began as a bit of social smoking quickly slipped into a full blown addiction in a way smoking cigarettes never had for me - vaping would be the first thing I did in the morning and the last thing i'd do before I went to sleep at night.
It was just too easy - I could do it in my flat because it didn't smell like cigarettes, it was super accessible and I could nurse my conscience with the fact 'it's not as bad as smoking'.
It kind of makes me laugh, looking back.
At one point I was getting through a 4,000 puff vape (a regulation vape contains 600 puffs) in around three days. It's hard to calculate for definite, but let's just say that's an ungodly amount of nicotine swirling round my body each day and probably much more than the average cigarette smoker.
As of late, more headlines have been popping up about the dangers of vaping, especially for kids - so much so the UK government has announced a major crackdown on the habit.
Back in October, a 12-year-old was put into a coma after her lung collapsed following heavy vaping, meanwhile hospital admissions for vaping children has quadrupled in a year.
As news around the dangers of vaping started to land on my lap at work, I would bury my head in the sand and try to avoid the stories altogether - which, working in journalism, is pretty hard to do.
But one Sunday morning - after a restless night's sleep and several bouts of deeping the fact I was literally an addict - I got to the end of my tether. So I decided to quit... cold turkey.
I'd tried (using that term very loosely here) a couple of times in the past to quit - or at least cut down - to little avail, but this time felt different.
However, just a couple of days into quitting I already started to notice things I really wasn't expecting.
Here's a timeline of everything that happened to me both mentally and physically when I kicked my vaping habit cold turkey:
A few hours after using the vape, I was starting to gasp for it. I had a serious case of brain fog, and it was all I could think about. The cravings were intense, and I questioned at multiple points if it was really worth it.
As planned, I went to a friends house in the evening for a games night which resulted me looking like the Algebra woman meme for the entire time because my brain had literally blocked out everything that wasn't nicotine. I couldn't retain information, was chronically zoned out and was both horrified and shocked by how hard I was actually finding it.
I didn't win at cards, surprisingly.
My first night's sleep without nicotine was crap, to say the least. For starters, as I was trying to drift off, I felt really anxious and on edge. But when I did finally get some kip, I was constantly waking up, tossing and turning.
I really couldn't believe my body was reacting like this, having somehow convinced myself that I can't have been massively addicted because it's 'not the same' as smoking. Who was I trying to kid?
During the day, I started to get a bit of a headache - nothing major, though - and had to continue to fight cravings.
This was one of the first things to surprise me.
I thought I would experience one long, non-stop craving, but it was actually more like intense episodes throughout the day that would subside with distraction.
I didn't really have a proper game plan, so I just kept ignoring the cravings, distracted myself and - if that didn't work - reminded myself why I was quitting in the first place (it's not good for me, it's a bit losery, it's not nice to be addicted to something, blah blah blah).
By this point, my circulation was supposed to have returned to normal, which i'm sure my body was glad of.
72 hours with no nicotine and this is where I would say my physical withdrawal symptoms peaked. This makes sense, given the fact your body has cleared all the nicotine out of its system by this point and is officially running on empty.
I had a general sense of 'not being with it' all day, as well as mild headaches, sweating more than usual and still having regular craving spells throughout the day, too.
That being said, while I did wake up during the night, the sleep felt a lot deeper than I'd been getting the past few months, so I was already starting to feel more well rested, which was a major win.
Days four & five
While I was starting to get over the hump with my physical withdrawal symptoms, nothing could prepare me for the psychological effects ditching the vapes would have.
By day four, I felt extremely anxious and my mind felt like it was going at 100mph. Not to mention the fact that my temper was very, um, temperamental, and I experienced irritability on a whole other level. I'd go as far as to say it felt like I was losing control over it a little bit.
One positive was that my nicotine cravings had started to subside slightly, and I was down to around five episodes a day. Plus, by this point, I'd become familiar with the feeling so was getting better at dealing with it.
Days six & seven
People say day three is your hardest day. Days six and seven were mine.
I had zero concentration, which made a lot of everyday things a mammoth task. I couldn't even concentrate on a TikTok (another of my unfortunate addictions), that's how bad it was.
One of the other dominant emotions was the irritability that emerged a couple of days before, as well as anger. I could have won the lottery and still found a reason to be p*ssed off.
But then, disaster really struck...
I, of course, had to catch COVID, didn't I?
While I didn't have as many cravings, the psychological impact coupled with the fact I was reminiscing on times I could breathe out of my nose properly, made me feel like the walking dead.
I probably looked like it too, to be fair.
Weeks two & three
The main thing to contend with as the days rolled on was the mental cravings. By now, according to science, the nicotine was cleared out of my system and my body didn't feel physically dependent on it anymore.
I was having no physical withdrawal anymore, however, while my cravings were certainly less intense, they were still very much there.
I found the social triggers the hardest to deal with, like being at the pub where other people were smoking.
At this point I really started to notice my appetite increase, which I expected, given the fact nicotine can be an appetite suppressant.
But the fact that my skin and oral health had massively improved, my immune system felt stronger and I no longer had that weird, lingering cough, made me push through the fleeting cravings.
It's safe to say I'd gotten to the point where the worst was over with and the positives far outweighed any negative side effects, plus, the cravings were much easier to just ignore.
Two months on
That brings us to present day. As I'm writing this, I'm officially two months vape free, and I'm continuing to feel the positives from ditching the nicotine.
The likes of my skin, oral health and my mood (which finally balanced out after a couple of weeks) continue to improve, not to mention my bank balance isn't feeling the pinch so much.
And, according to medical professionals, my lung capacity will have now improved too.
Really, it's nice not to constantly have to factor in vape breaks all the time and hand money over for something you've become ashamed of doing.
I do still crave the vape, especially in social situations and after finishing meals - which admittedly did shock me a bit seen as it's been a couple of months now.
But rather than it being a super strong physical craving and pull, it's more of a sneaky 'one puff won't do you any harm, you're not addicted anymore so it can't hurt' kind of thing, which I do find easy to roll my eyes at and just bat away.
All in all, I'm so glad I just took the plunge and did it, instead of constantly telling myself 'I need to quit' and feeling guilty because I didn't.
I've also saved a pretty penny now i'm not forking out for vapes anymore, and can finally read and work on news about vaping without getting riddled with anxiety, so that's nice.
Trust me, I was taken aback by how easily I became addicted - now all I wish is that I never fell for it in the first place.