We’ve always said that vaping is the second-best alternative to smoking, but quitting altogether is the first. If you’re currently vaping and want to call it quits, the process can go a bit smoother with some helpful tips. Keep in mind that different tactics tend to work better or worse for different people, and you may need to experiment to find the ones that work best for you.
Determine your motivation
Your first order of business is to ask yourself why you want to quit. Being clear on your why can actually make it easier to do so. Keeping your why in mind can provide ongoing motivation to stick with your decision for the long haul. Reasons for quitting vaping can include anything from health concerns to saving money, and your specific motivation is what’s going to most strongly help keep you on track.
Determine your method
You have two main choices for moving forward with your decision to quit vaping:
- Quitting gradually
- Quitting cold turkey
The first choice may be less painful in the way of withdrawal symptoms, but studies suggest quitting cold turkey is more likely to lead to long-term success. The studies were focused on quitting smoking, not vaping per se, yet the habits are strikingly similar.
Quitting gradually can involve:
- Weaning off nicotine by gradually reducing the nicotine level in your vaping liquid until you’re at a zero level
- Consistently reducing the amount and frequency of your vaping until you’re at zero hours
Quitting cold turkey can involve:
- Nicotine replacement therapy, or NRT, which includes nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers and sprays that provide a consistent dose of nicotine without the rush, a help with withdrawal symptoms. It can also be dangerous to vape or smoke when you’re using NRT.
- Remembering the worst nicotine withdrawal symptoms generally peak between one and two days, then decrease over the next month or so.
Pick a feasible date
Pick a firm date to start the weaning process, or to quit cold turkey, and mark it on your calendar. Some people like to choose significant dates, like birthdays, holidays or anniversaries. You also want to pick a time when you’re not expecting to be undergoing excessive stress or dealing with other issues that could serve as triggers.
Selecting a date that’s at least a week away gives you time to prepare. Preparation steps can include:
- Getting rid of all vaping products
- Buying hard candies, gum, toothpicks or other things you can use to help fight cravings
- Telling close friends and family members about your plan to enlist support
- Planning something special for the day, like your favorite meal or activity
- Identifying alternative coping skills
List your vaping triggers
Triggers are what kick off a routine, or cues that make you want to vape. Triggers are followed by a routine, which are followed by a reward. In the case of vaping, the reward is generally the nicotine rush that comes from the routine of vaping.
To change a habit, it’s essential to first identify the triggers that put that habit into gear. Vaping triggers can include things like:
- Stress, loneliness, boredom or other emotions
- Seeing or hanging out with people who vape
- Taking breaks during which you would normally vape
- Withdrawal symptoms
Once you identify triggers, you can come up with strategic ways to deal with them. Like journaling about your emotions or planning other activities during your normal vaping breaks.
Create a game plan for cravings and withdrawal
The first week or so is typically the toughest for cravings and withdrawal symptoms. You may experience a lineup of different symptoms that can include:
- Increased hunger
- Irritability, frustration or mood swings
- Feelings of anxiety or depression
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble focusing
In addition to nicotine withdrawal symptoms, you are likely to experience cravings, or a deep urge to vape. You’ll get through the rough patches more easily if you come up with a game plan to deal with cravings and withdrawal.
Tactics can include:
- Meditation and deep breathing exercises
- Heading outside for a quick walk or fresh air
- Occupying your mind with a puzzle, game or other distraction
- Calling a friend or otherwise reaching out for support
- Staying hydrated and eating balanced meals
- Celebrating your accomplishments, even the first few hours of success
- Keeping your eye on the prize, envisioning all the rewards you’ll reap with a vape-free life
Create a support system
Quitting any addictive habit can be much easier with a solid support system in place. Your support network can include:
- Close family members and friends
- People who have successfully quit vaping in the past
- Nicotine cessation call lines and online chat systems
- The Smokefree Text Messaging program
- Therapists or other behavioral health professionals
Designating at least one person as your go-to contact can be extremely helpful when you’re in the midst of a withdrawal symptom or craving and need to talk, fast.
Find a feel-good new habit to replace the old habit
Transitioning from the old vaping habit into a new habit that makes you feel just as good can be a key to success. Whether it’s painting, making music, drawing, exercising or playing with your dogs, substituting one habit for another can be easier than simply trying to stop a habit without an alternative.
One final tip is to be gentle on yourself. Quitting vaping can be a challenging undertaking, and every effort you make is one worth acknowledging. Even if you end up vaping again, don’t beat yourself up. Remind yourself how far you’ve come for the length of time you were able to quit. Then shake yourself off and try again – perhaps with different coping strategies, a different routine and a stronger focus on your why. Keep your eye on the prize and keep trying, which is the surefire way to succeed.