Is Vaping Addictive?
Yes, although vaping is advertised as a go-to method to quit smoking cigarettes, most of the e-liquids used to vape still contains the main addictive ingredient found in cigarettes, nicotine. Vapes may be just as addicting if not more addicting than some cigarettes. The “e-juices” or main liquid that is turned into vapor can be purchased in different strengths with some liquids having a higher concentration of nicotine than cigarettes.
Clearing The Air: Myths And Facts Surrounding Electronic Cigarettes
The use of vapes has rapidly gained momentum in the past 10 years. From 2007 to 2015 it has approached exponential growth in the number of people using e-cigarettes, also known as vapes. Yes, the word vape is a real thing, the popularity of the word vape was so prominent that in 2014 the Oxford Dictionaries’ named “vape” as the word of the year.
How Do Vapes (E-Cigarettes) Work?
Using a small metal element, vapes are able to heat the e-liquid or e-juice to create a vapor which can be inhaled. This primary function of this is to deliver the nicotine which is contained in the e-juice to the user’s system through the lungs. The marketing efforts of these companies have generated the misconception that vapes are much less harmful than tobacco products. Later in this article, we will discuss how this is a misconception and present some evidence showing the effects that nicotine has on the human body.
Effects of Nicotine on the Body
Nicotine is a naturally occurring chemical also produced by the body that has some unpredictable and complex effects on the body and brain which is backed by extensive studies. It can be absorbed through the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth, nose or through the lungs while inhaling. Vaping or smoking cigarettes results in nicotine reaching peak levels and reaching the brain within 10 seconds of inhalation. Due to the short lifespan of the dissipation being only a few minutes users feel a constant need to repeat their intake throughout the day.
Nicotine molecules are assembled like a neurotransmitter that is called acetylcholine, which is a receptor involved in many functions including breathing, heart rate, leaning, memory, and muscle movement. They are also known to release other neurotransmitters and hormones that can affect appetite, mood, memory. When nicotine is absorbed into the body and gets into the brain it attaches to acetylcholine receptors and is able to mimic the actions of acetylcholine.
This is the result of nicotine entering the bloodstream:
o If nicotine use halts, the brain will produce an insufficient amount of acetylcholine which will cause the user to experience withdrawal symptoms which can include:
– Sleeping problems
– Increased appetite
o Result in too many chemicals in the synapses.
o Due to the similar chemical structure of nicotine to the bodies natural chemical structure of neurotransmitters the surge of extra nicotine will significantly reduce the production of acetylcholine and receptors in synapses.
The brain at this point is dependant on a regular and consistent intake of nicotine to maintain normal functioning of the brain. Once a person stops using nicotine, the number of receptors will eventually return. Researchers now believe that this change in dopamine levels may play a key role in all addictions. Nicotine raises the levels of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the parts of the brain that produce feelings of pleasure and reward. This reaction is similar to what we see with other abused drugs such as cocaine and heroin, and it is thought to underlie the pleasurable sensations many smokers experience.
It acts both as a sedative and a stimulant. Within seconds of taking in nicotine, users feel a “buzz” which is in part caused by the drug’s stimulation of the adrenal glands and the resulting secretion of adrenaline. The rush of adrenaline stimulates the body and causes a sudden release of glucose, which increases blood pressure, heart rate and respiration.
Nicotine’s Effects On Adolescents
Children and teens are much more likely to start using e-cigarettes than cigarettes, likely due to a few key reasons:
0 A high exposure to e-cigarette advertising
0 Attractive packaging, colors, and flavors
0 A common perception that e-cigarettes are harmless
o Peer pressure
A clear issue with vaping in adolescence is that their young brains are much more sensitive to the addictive properties of nicotine. In recent studies, adolescents have reported symptoms of nicotine addiction/dependence when consuming even low levels of nicotine. Just after a few days of nicotine consumption teens and children can become dependant on it.
Nicotine causes dopamine to fire more in the brain which causes the problems due to an increased sensitivity of the reward systems in the developing adolescent brains. The reward-system pathways develop very rapidly, while the prefrontal cortex ( the area of the brain linked to cognitive function and control) is shown to develop much slower according to structural and functional MRI data. The combination will often leave adolescents more motivated by rewards, less averse to risks, and more easily influenced by peers.
Interfering with adolescent cognitive development, executive functioning, and inhibitory control may lead to higher levels of dependence by exerting neurotoxic effects in the prefrontal cortex. These effects are particularly evident under stressful or emotionally intense states and are most pronounced when nicotine use begins during early adolescence. Overall, the adolescent brain is more vulnerable to the effects of nicotine than the adult brain.
The Dangers Of Vaping
A reason to be concerned about e-cigarettes is the lack of information that has been provided about the health and safety effects of vapes. There has been little information provided about what chemicals are contained in the e-liquids or their effects on the body when they are inhaled. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking steps to regulate the e-cigarette industry but has done very little so far.
It is known that there are food dye’s contained in the e-liquids which we assume are okay for consumption, however, there is very little known about how they can affect the body when the chemicals are vaporized and inhaled. These additional flavorings also make it easier to get addicted because they not only contain nicotine but they taste good. The FDA recognized the risk of flavored tobacco which they did not allow tobacco companies to do yet they have had no success thus far in regulating this for e-liquids.
It has been found that components of the heating element and other vape parts can aerosolize some of the metals which includes chromium, aluminum, barium, lead, nickel, zinc, and tin which can go straight into the user’s lungs when inhaling. There has also been testing on e-liquids where they found chemicals that have been tied to a lung diseases known as “popcorn lung”. They have also found chemicals such as acetaldehyde and formaldehyde which are known carcinogens. Certain e-liquids have been found to cause inflammation in the mouth, gum disease and the inability to heal from mouth sores.