WHAT IS NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL AND HOW TO IMPLEMENT IT?
In a few years, the electronic cigarette has become the first smoking cessation tool in France. Officially, the French would already be 700,000 to have quit smoking thanks to the e-cigarette. Quitting traditional cigarettes and tobacco is a great first victory. But for some, this is just the first step. The second is nicotine withdrawal.
How to succeed in reaching the famous 0mg/ml of nicotine? Through this article, we bring you the first elements of the answer.
Who can start nicotine withdrawal?
Above all, it is important to know that to begin nicotine withdrawal, you must already have successfully quit smoking. To ensure that this first withdrawal is over, you must be sure that you no longer want to smoke a traditional cigarette. If at any time of the day, a desire to smoke a cigarette appears in you, then your smoking cessation is not yet complete. At this time, reducing the nicotine level of your e-liquid risks creating an additional lack that could lead you to smoke again.
In the case of smoking cessation, nicotine proves to be an ally to keep you away from traditional cigarettes. Admittedly, it is addictive and it is normal to want to get rid of it, but it is not its presence in the classic cigarette that is dangerous for your health.
To get off to a good start with nicotine withdrawal, you must be sure that you no longer want to smoke a cigarette. You have to stay away from tobacco for a long time, at the risk of reducing your smoking cessation to ashes and further removing your nicotine withdrawal.
Why do we become addicted to nicotine?
To successfully reduce your addiction to nicotine, you must first understand how it works. Nicotine acts directly on the brain: it binds to receptors and stimulates the reward system which then releases dopamine, the pleasure hormone.
When one begins to smoke tobacco, nicotine will first multiply the receptors in the brain. The more they are, the more they will ask for nicotine. This is how addiction appears. These receivers do not multiply ad infinitum. After a few months of smoking, an average level of nicotine requirement is established: this is why the consumption of cigarettes by smokers is stable over time.
The difference between nicotine in tobacco and nicotine in nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine does not act in the same way on the brain when it is smoked or when it is taken thanks to nicotine substitutes. When smoked with tobacco, nicotine arrives in less than 20 seconds in the brain and causes intense nicotine peaks. These peaks are mainly responsible for the multiplication of receptors in the brain, and therefore for the development of the withdrawal phenomenon.
Whereas with nicotine substitutes (such as patches or chewing gum for example…) or electronic cigarettes, nicotine takes much longer to be delivered to the brain. The nicotine peaks that are sent when smoked will be limited by nicotine substitutes and e-cigarettes. The objective here will be to have a sufficient concentration of nicotine in the blood to be satisfied and not to feel a lack.
Self-titration is a natural phenomenon in smokers that many are unaware of. Depending on their nicotine needs, each smoker can adapt their way of smoking, taking longer or shorter puffs, and keeping the smoke longer or shorter in their lungs…
When a smoker will try to reduce his consumption of traditional cigarettes, his nicotine addiction will not change. Even by smoking fewer conventional cigarettes, he will change the way he draws his cigarettes to fill his gap.
This phenomenon is also visible in vapers who reduce their nicotine levels too quickly. To compensate, they will increase their consumption of e-liquid or will vape differently, passing from indirect inhalation to direct inhalation, increasing the power of the vape…).
During nicotine withdrawal, if the body does not get the dose of nicotine it thinks it needs, it will subconsciously find ways to achieve its ends. It is therefore necessary to be attentive to the signals sent by the body and to take your time in your nicotine withdrawal.
How to reduce your nicotine level thanks to the electronic cigarette?
The success of its nicotine withdrawal depends above all on a gradual drop in the level of nicotine contained in e-liquids. How to prepare well for this drop in nicotine and how to successfully reduce your nicotine level thanks to the electronic cigarette?
When you ask yourself about nicotine withdrawal and the drop in nicotine in your e-liquids thanks to the electronic cigarette, it is essential to define two points that will measure your progress: the nicotine level and the consumption of e-liquid.
As we saw above with self-titration, your vaping behaviour may change with nicotine withdrawal. The most noticeable change when you start to lower the nicotine level of your e-liquid is the increase in e-liquid vaped which compensates for the lack. But the more e-liquid you consume, the more nicotine you consume.
If you lower your nicotine level while increasing your e-liquid consumption, you will end up with the same nicotine consumption as before. If you were vaping 2ml per day of 12mg/ml e-liquid and now you are vaping 4ml per day of 6mg/ml e-liquid, you are consuming the same amount of nicotine and your nicotine withdrawal will not be effective.
Thus, the nicotine level present on your e-liquid can lead you to error. For your nicotine withdrawal to be effective, you must adapt and limit your consumption of e-liquid. It is therefore important to be aware of the quantity of e-liquid that you vape each day.
When you have established your daily consumption of e-liquid (for example 2ml), multiply this result by the nicotine level of your e-liquid (for example 12mg/ml). So your daily nicotine intake is 24mg.
The main objective of your nicotine withdrawal will be to reduce this number by lowering the nicotine level and/or reducing your consumption with the ultimate goal of reaching 0mg.
Establish a withdrawal strategy
The implementation of a withdrawal strategy can vary from one vaper to another, depending on your consumption of e-liquid and your base nicotine level.
If your e-liquid consumption is relatively low (less than 5ml per day) but your nicotine level is high (greater than 6mg/ml), the most effective solution for you will be to first gradually lower the dosage of your e-liquid in nicotine.
On the other hand, if your e-liquid consumption is high but your nicotine level is low, it would be rather advisable to first gradually reduce your e-liquid consumption. Although it may seem strange, you can increase the nicotine level of your e-liquid while reducing the amounts you vape. For example, if you vape 10ml of e-liquid with a nicotine level of 3mg/ml, which means you consume 30mg of nicotine per day. You can switch to an e-liquid with a nicotine level of 6mg/ml, but by vaping only 5ml per day, which will also make you consume 30mg of nicotine per day. This first change in consumption will allow you to better begin your weaning.
This new consumption and the evolution of your weaning will inevitably create changes in your way of vaping. You will use less power, switch to less direct inhaling and decrease your vaping frequency. This new consumption may not be suitable for you, but by keeping a powerful and direct inhaling vape, the drop in the nicotine level will be more gradual.
Take his time
The nicotine needs of a vaper must be met over time so that the physical dependence on this molecule gradually decreases. It is therefore necessary to match the drop in nicotine levels with the reduction in addiction.
Take your time, nicotine withdrawal is not a sprint but a marathon. It does not take a few days to be able to hope to lower the nicotine level of your e-liquid but several weeks between each nicotine level. You know yourself better than anyone, it’s up to you to determine the time you need between each level for your body to get used to it.
Generally, it takes at least a month before changing the nicotine level. The body thus has time to adapt and prepare for the next level.
As said above, you have to adapt the decrease in nicotine with your consumption of e-liquid. The criterion that must be kept in mind is the daily consumption of nicotine. To reduce this consumption little by little, you can turn to 10ml e-liquids already containing nicotine, generally dosed in this way: 16mg/ml, 12mg/ml, 6mg/ml, 3mg/ml and 0mg/ml. But between each level, a big gap is created. A second solution would be to turn to e-liquids in large formats to nicotine yourself with nicotine boosters.
If you usually vape e-liquid with more than 6mg/ml of nicotine you can separate your large vial of e-liquid into several smaller vials. To boost your e-liquid with the nicotine level you want, do not hesitate to use a dedicated calculator.
You will be able to manage more easily the reduction of the nicotine level of your e-liquid little by little thanks to this intermediary. For example by going from 12mg/ml to 9mg/ml then 6mg/ml and not going directly from 12mg/ml to 6mg/ml.