I bought my first Juul in late September of 2018. I’d tried it before when offered at house parties or the college bars in town, sometimes even from close friends. It was normalized in my mind to the point where I truly thought I should get one for myself. Half of everyone I knew had one, and I was practically leeching off my best friend’s Juul anyway, so I caved. I went to a store downtown and bought the starter pack: a variety of pod flavors, a tiny USB charger, and of course, the Juul itself. It sat in my desk drawer for three days, unopened.
A part of me was unsure, probably the part of me that knew this was a bad idea.
I was aware that the pods contain nicotine, a highly addictive and dangerous chemical, but at the time, that was so easy to rationalize in my mind with a “but everybody’s doing it” or “it’s no worse than drinking, which is a normal thing to do in college.” I focused on the fact that I wasn’t smoking real cigarettes. I convinced myself that vaping was different, that it was safer.
Regardless of my hesitation, I eventually opened it and, at first, I saw no real consequences in my life. If anything, I found it fun, and in my hands, the sleek, lightweight device seemed harmless. Over time, however, my body — and my bank account — began to seriously suffer. By December, I had built up such a tolerance that using it felt like a chore, like satiating a need akin to hunger. I woke up in the morning and hit my Juul before I had breakfast or even stretched. It ingrained itself into my routine.
The drunk patron at the bar offering you a hit of their Juul, insisting that it’s fun, won’t bother to tell you about the withdraw headaches when you’re in class all day or the nausea and dizziness when the hit is too strong. They won’t tell you about the panic when it’s misplaced because you haven’t gone more than a couple hours without it since you started using it. I was jumping headfirst into a cycle I assumed I could control, but that’s another thing they won’t tell you. With nicotine, you are not the one in control.
The first time I became concerned…
was the time I lost my charger, an accessory valued at $5 when bought separately. The gas station near my house didn’t sell them separately, but they did have a starter pack for $34.99. In an act of irrationality, I chose to buy the pack, including another Juul, just to get the charger inside. That is the logic of nicotine addiction, something I was still in denial about at the time. It took the next three months for me to accept the reality that I created and another month for me to make a change.
That brings me to today, over 7 months without nicotine from a Juul or any other source. The process of quitting hasn’t been easy. Getting through the brief cravings was the hardest part, like surfing the waves of an ocean you’d rather not be in.
My body is still recovering from the constant intake of drug-infused vapor. I faced painful health consequences for the sake of a habit I justified time and time again, for an addiction that was hurting me every day.
Since quitting, my risk of heart attack has slowly decreased. My chronic cough has gone away, and my head has been much clearer. My generalized anxiety has improved, and my bank balance has remained positive. If you are wanting to quit vaping, please know that you are capable and strong. It’s a matter of getting through the first 3–4 days, which can absolutely be done with the right resources and support system.
There’s something empowering about making a healthy lifestyle change, especially as I’m coming into young adulthood and figuring out who I am. It’s not about my ability to go up against the addiction, but rather my willingness to just try. Like me, maybe you’ll try and fail a dozen times before anything changes for good. That’s OK. These things are a process. You won’t stop craving it overnight, but over time it will fade.
You will forget how much you used to want it. You and your lungs will recover. Until then, we’re in this journey together and don’t worry, it’ll be so worth it.