The Psychological Effects Of Vaping

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Shorter Version

Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes

“Being less toxic does not mean it is healthier.”

~ Italian MEP to the European Council

What is vaping?

What exactly is vaping? Vaping is a method that involves inhaling and exhaling water vapor (aerosol). This includes e-cigarettes or similar devices (i.e. vape pens and personal vaporizers, also referred to as MODS). Why is this form of smoking referred to as vaping?

Because e-cigarettes use aerosol (which contains thousands of tiny particles) instead of tobacco smoke.

Psychological Effects of Vaping

Although vaping was first introduced to Americans in 2007, it was the rise of e-cigarettes that caused this form of smoking to increase in popularity. The newest and most popular vaping product circling the teen and millennial crowds is JUUL. JUUL is appealing to these populations because it’s tiny and shaped like a USB flash drive. In other words, it’s easy to hide. To date, JUUL accounts for approximately 72% of the vaping products on the US market. Teens and millennials especially like this product because it comes in a variety of flavors and contains a high dose of nicotine.

What are the health risks of vaping?

However, despite the appeal of vaping products, especially in younger generations, it comes with some dicey health risks. More specifically, the particles found in vaping products contain toxic chemicals that can trigger or worsen a variety of health problems. These problems can range from heart disease, severe respiratory issues, and lung and throat cancer to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and addiction, impaired cognitive function, ADHD, neurological damage (due to the unsafe levels of metal found in vaping products), and moods swings.


In fact, according to a recent study on vaping, daily vaping can cause changes in your brain. And, if your brain doesn’t receive the chemical, namely nicotine, you start to go through withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms may consist of extreme irritability, stress, anxiety, and depression. But, because most studies focus on the physical effects of chronic vaping, the psychological effects are often overlooked, ignored, or dismissed, especially when it comes to young adults.

Psychological effects of vaping

A study on vaping found that 25% of college students use e-cigarettes. Another study found that millennials, who use e-cigarettes, are over 50% more likely to develop depression or anxiety. Thus, researchers suggest that vaping can lead to mental health issues. As a result, the goal of this article is to highlight the psychological effects of vaping and provide ways to lessen the effects.

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Actionable Steps


Use temperature-controlled MODS

Using temperature-controlled MODS is a good way to help you reduce potential psychological risks. These MODS are beneficial to vapers because they prevent coils from becoming too hot – an occurrence that happens during “dry puffs.” “Dry puffs,” also called “dry hits,” taste horrendous and can trigger terrible coughing spells.
The good news is with temperature-controlled MODS, once the coils reach the maximum temperature limit, the device (i.e. vape pen, vaporizer, or e-cig) lowers the temperature and the device shuts-off. So, if you just aren’t ready to let your vaping products go – and it’s still legal in your state to vape, then spring for a temperature-controlled MOD. It is better for your health, stress-level, mood, and state of mind.


Puff less often

Reduce the number of puffs you take each day. However, keep in mind that if you opt for puffing less, you’ll probably need a higher level of nicotine to get the same desirable effects. What does this mean? It means your throat will likely feel the burn. To avoid this nasty and painful side-effect, you’ll need to play around with how much nicotine you can tolerate.

Why? Because, after a few episodes of a painful throat, you’re probably going to develop a horrible case of the “cranks” (crankiness), along with anxiety, stress, and depression. Lastly, you may want to invest in a high-grade vegetable glycerin (VG) e-liquid to combat any unpleasant side-effects of high nicotine use (i.e. sore throats) or you may want to lower the setting on your device, so the “hit” isn’t too strong for your body or mind.
Puffing less often may make you feel as if you’re not getting enough of the nicotine or of the experience. However, if you do not plan to quit any time soon, it’s one of your best options to reduce the psychological effects of vaping.


Seek help

If you wonder if the complications and side-effects (i.e. moodiness, stress, anxiety, ADHD, agitation, and/or depression) outweigh the benefits of vaping, there are plenty of ways you can seek help for your use. You can seek help by setting up an appointment with your physician, who will develop a plan to reduce and eventually quit vaping.
Do not try to go “cold turkey” because that may do more harm than good. In fact, according to a recent study, millennials, who seek help for vaping, have a higher chance of success than those who try to “go it alone” and those who use the “cold turkey” method. 
Although your physician will probably handle the physical withdrawal symptoms, he or she may also refer you to a counselor who can help you discover your psychological draw to vaping. Your counselor will also teach you how to manage the psychological symptoms associated with withdrawing from vaping.
Counseling may consist of individual (one-on-one) sessions, group sessions, telephone counseling, or online counseling depending on your needs and availability. You may also want to attend a nicotine support group like Nicotine Anonymous. This group will provide you with support, advice, and guidance while you connect with others who are also trying to stop vaping.
Lastly, if you have been vaping for a while and feel addicted to it, then your physician may suggest you try a medication. The good news is there are a variety of medications available today that can help you quite vaping. These medications range from over-the-counter medications to anti-smoking, anti-anxiety, and anti-depression prescription meds. These meds can make your effort to become vape-free a lot easier.


Read the longer version

You can learn more about the psychological effects of vaping on millennials by reading the following articles: 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know, Millennials and Vaping: Health Risks and Unexpected Benefits, Vaping: Not So Safe, Smoking or Vaping and How It Affects Mental Health, and 5 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Nicotine Intake When Vaping.

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About the Author

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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