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Closet Fascination

A blog about a journey, smoking, not smoking, vaping and everything in between

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harm reduction

Interesting… 

Study Finds e-cigarettes Don’t Make Tobacco Use Appealing Again – http://wp.me/p4uyBp-Sa

I’m not a young person, but I think that vaping is a great harm reduction tool that has been demonized unfairly in North America. 

I’m glad they are studying this and finding what those of us who have vaped were saying all along. My own experience: vaping has pretty much killed any enjoyment I used to get out of smoking. I honestly think it is a key as to why my brief lapses with smoking have resulted in a reaction of “meh…”. 

If I were to use nicotine again, I wouldn’t smoke. I’d vape. That said, I really have no desire to use nicotine again. Cigarettes taste gross and I like the cleaner (no CO) buzz of straight nicotine vs smoked tobacco.

So there you have it: seeing people vape doesn’t cause hordes of young people to go off and try it. Some might, but other studies have shown they are the ones that would have been interested in smoking as well. 

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Is Nicotine addictive? Short answer: Yes Long Answer: It is complicated

By Alyssa Strong (LoveVapePlus.com) “If policy makers reject the scientific truth about nicotine and make e-cigarettes more scarce, then the likely result is that more Americans will die from smoking.” – Forbes When you think of nicotine, tobacco cigarettes are most likely the first thing that come to mind. This is where the stigma […]

via Vaping: Can You Develop a Nicotine Addiction? —

So I want to comment on this article as nicotine addiction is something that I have first hand experience with. I mostly agree with this article, but I think we should be cautious in understating the addictiveness of nicotine.

Now, for the main factor: nicotine found in traditional cigarettes. “It’s the addictive chemical used in cigarettes to keep a smoker buying!” Well, actually, did you know this is actually not a fact? Due to the fact that nicotine, by itself, has been found to not be addictive, there is no real evidence to show that nicotine is the primary or even the runner-up for addictive chemicals in cigarettes. You can find over 4000 chemicals within a traditional cigarette. It is pretty easy to see that with such a large amount of chemicals being used, there is most likely more than one at fault for the issue behind smoking cigarettes. Whether it is one chemical or the combination of the chemicals together, we do not know at this time. We do know, however, that nicotine solely is not the issue.

We are blaming a very crucial health concern on a stimulant, just like caffeine, that plays no role in the matter. This is due to many issues, but mostly it is from a lack of study and media. You see an ad on television or elsewhere telling you nicotine is addictive and that is generally what you are going to agree with.

I can agree that it is not only nicotine that makes cigarettes addictive. There are in fact studies that show that nicotine on its own isn’t as addictive as the combination of chemicals present in cigarette smoke and that smokers could be dependent not only on the nicotine but on the cocktail of chemicals. This explains why many smokers switch back to cigarettes saying they are not the same.

Is nicotine addictive? I think (and this is anecdotal, an opinion based on my personal experience and what I have read) that nicotine on its own is less addictive than when it is obtained through smoking tobacco. I also think that nicotine dependence has more to do with delivery method and spikes in blood nicotine levels rather than the drug itself. The addiction that can develop with vaping nicotine has as much to do with the drug as it does with forming habits and psychological cues to use. This Forbes article referenced in the above article has a good quote:

Many e-cigarettes deliver less nicotine per puff and generally produce lower blood nicotine levels (and, thus, brain levels) than cigarettes do. However, with access to increasingly sophisticated devices and more experience as a vaper, the user can attain a blood level of nicotine that is comparable to that produced by smoking. Still, it takes longer for vaped nicotine to reach its peak level than for tobacco-burned nicotine.

These two variables – how high the level of nicotine is in the bloodstream and how fast that level is achieved — are important in determining the addictiveness of any abused drug. As expected, Foulds’s team found that subjects who used weak “ciga-likes” (first generation e-cigarettes that physically resemble actual cigarettes) had among the lowest scores on a test of “dependency,” or addiction. Also, the length of time as a vaper was positively correlated with the strength of dependence. As Foulds suggests, “we might actually need e-cigarettes that are better at delivering nicotine because that’s what’s more likely to help people quit.”

So as the devices get better at delivering nicotine, I think we will see higher dependence. I used a sub-ohm tank which is fairly good at delivering nicotine. In fact, per puff, I noticed no real difference in ‘drug hit’ vs a conventional cigarette when using higher nicotine juices such as 9 mg and 12 mg. Granted, most people that sub-ohm vape don’t end up going that high, but I can tell you if you are vaping that regularly you probably will become dependent.

That said, do I think nicotine is the problem? No. It has been shown in countless studies to be fairly safe to use. I think that is what should be focused on. Nicotine, a stimulant like caffeine, is safe use. Nicotine, like caffeine, can also result in dependence. People need to stop worrying about that though and focus on the fact that these devices are being demonized for being ‘less safe’ for reasons outside of the addictiveness of nicotine. I think vaping is the best harm-reduction for people looking to quit smoking but who are maybe unwilling to go nicotine-free. I’d probably still be using nicotine if I had a job that could accommodate my fairly heavy need to vape. Vaping is not allowed indoors where I live. It is treated like smoking. Therefore, I spent most of my work days in nicotine withdrawal, a fog of nervous anxiety that was instantly relieved the moment I got into my car at lunch and at the end of my work day and vaped. I’m glad I quit and for me the negatives outweighed the positives. I continued to vape nicotine free for a bit, but for me, it really isn’t the same.

That said, vaping has ruined cigarette smoking for me. Part of me wants it but when I take a puff, I find it totally disappointing. Do I regret my 9 month stint as a total nicotine fiend? Nope. Not one bit. Do I want to go back? Nope. I actually really enjoy being off nicotine.

201 days with no incidents…until today

I guess my counter gets reset today. I knew this was coming and maybe I wanted it to at least on some level. 

Relapse. A tiny one, but a relapse nonetheless. 

I had some old stale cigars. I smoked half of one, inhaling only once. You don’t have to inhale to absorb the nicotine, but it tasted so disgusting, that I put it out before I would have normally. I was expecting a more noticeable effect, but I guess nicotine tolerance doesn’t disappear that quickly. 

The good: it took care of my desire to smoke, extinguished it with the disgustingness of the flavour. I felt more at peace than I have in days like it was exactly what I needed. I’m guessing that is partially from the nicotine though too. This was the feeling I liked about smoking/using nicotine but that I feel is lost in regular use. I’ve been abstainant for long enough that my body hasn’t demanded more yet, although in the past, that normally came the next day. Perhaps it won’t come at all. My mindset is different now though. In the past, there was always a small part of me that wanted to smoke regularly. Now, I know that I for sure, deep down don’t want that. So think the likelihood of this starting something is low. 

The bad: I’m not sure if there is a bad. I mean, I don’t feel bad about giving into my desire. Maybe I should? The only bad I see is a potential false sense of confidence for the future. My plan is to keep use very, very occasional. Previously, prior to my 9 month regular use stint, I was an opportunist. The problem with that is if the opportunity pops up too often, it would be easy to slip into regular use. I don’t think I’d end up smoking, I could see it escalating to the point of me vaping regularly. It might be good to set some guidelines, like three months at least between use, not more than one session (one pipe, one cigarillo, one cigarette, one vape session) and no consecutive days of use. Kind of like people have moderate drinking guidelines, but they would be my super moderate smoking/vaping nicotine guidelines.

Is it stupid to think that I could moderate after failing so fantasticly in the past? Perhaps. Abstaining indefinitely, I don’t think will work long term. For me it sets up my fetish, making me want it even more. My blog is good evidence of that. I get to the point where I’m psychologically itching for it. I think 3 months is a good waiting time, but if I don’t fancy it, I’ll go longer.

I want moderation in all areas of my life. I’m tired of living in the extremes. I’m almost there with exercise, although I need to add a bit more back. Food I struggle with, but it is getting easier, I just have to pay more attention to bring full, especially when I eat out. Also, eating regularly rather than letting myself get ravenously hungry. Drinking enough water throughout the day, this I’m still bad with.

If anything, the free pass every three months might remove the taboo enough that I don’t actually feel the drive to smoke/ use nicotine as much. Here is hoping. For now I will enjoy the peace. 

On being a nicotine junkie

I’m a nicotine junkie. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it weren’t so taboo. People can be coffee junkies as it is socially acceptable, but expressing your love for how awesome you feel when you have nicotine coursing through your veins is definitely taboo. Unless you are talking about how you are quitting most people don’t want to hear about it.

Turns out the problem really isn’t nicotine. Yes, nicotine is addictive. Very addictive. But nicotine is just what keeps people using a harmful product. More and more studies are showing that while nicotine is a very addictive substance, it’s negative effects on the body are few. Nicotine is not a carcinogen, nor is it responsible for the cardiovascular effects attributed to smoking. Inhaling a combustible product has more to do with the harmful effects of smoking Source. Using nicotine is almost as safe as using caffeine, albeit, way more taboo because of the way it is typically used (smoking) and how addictive it is.

I’ve never had a problem with any other substance. I like drinking, have binged on alcohol in the past, but have no problems going without it for long periods of time or maintaining moderation. I don’t crave alcohol. If my doctor told me that I had to stop drinking, I could. I’d be sad, but only because I enjoy wine, beers and spirits for their flavours, not because I’d never experience alcohol intoxication ever again.

I’m a raging nicotine addict. It isn’t a physical addiction because in the 14 years since I inhaled my first puff, I’ve spent more time and energy not smoking than most people quitting smoking for the first time. It is all psychological. I think I’ve been psychologically addicted since I inhaled my first puff. Nothing has made my body and mind feel as nice as when I have nicotine in it. Now all the quitting rhetoric doesn’t apply to me. Why you ask? Because they say that you only feel better when you smoke because you are relieving withdrawal and that eventually your body gets used to not having nicotine in it and you’ll feel fine. I do feel “fine” when I don’t smoke. But I know I would feel better with some nicotine in my bloodstream. But that is just my addict brain talking. Or is it?

I’m kind of done with conventional smoking at the moment. I’ve reached a crossroads in my long-term experimentation where my body finally has started to protest my occasional dabbling with smoking. It tells me, don’t stop. Do this all the time and when I tell it no, it protests. And I don’t want to smoke cigarettes full time for a variety of reasons.

I’m considering vaping. It probably won’t do it for me fetish wise(then again who knows?), but if I’m completely honest with myself my attraction to smoking is in large part because I like how nicotine makes me feel. I think the reason why I’ve been hesitant to try vaping is that it requires me to admit to myself that I love nicotine and am unwilling to live without it in my life. I’ve told myself various lies to justify my use but when it comes down to it, I love the way nicotine makes me feel and I continue to use tobacco products not just for the nicotine but for the feeling of smoking. I also love the way it feels to inhale smoke into my lungs.

I still like pipe smoking for the flavour and the different buzz I get from it. But I always come back to cigarettes. I love the intensity that isn’t present with cigars or pipes. The pipe tobacco cigarettes really cemented this for me.

Enter vaping. With the new mods and customization options people have figured out how to maximize the experience to come pretty close to what one’s experience smoking is. I have a lot of research to do before I take the plunge. And I have to be psychologically ok with the likely possibility that once I vape if I enjoy it, I’ll likely take my nicotine junkiehood to a whole new level like none I’ve ever experienced.

I know you are probably thinking, “but you don’t even smoke that much, how could you consider yourself a junkie?” It comes down to how I smoke and my thoughts around smoking. I work with addicts of various types and as I learned more about addiction and listened to their stories I realized I have the same relationship with my drug of choice. The main difference is that buying a pack of cigarettes doesn’t make me a criminal. Another big difference is that nicotine doesn’t render someone completely incapable of doing work.

You might be asking, “Why bother, you have proven that you can live without it so why would you start something you’ll probably get addicted to?” Because I’m at a point right now where I want to continue to smoke but I don’t want to start smoking regularly. Fucked up, I know. I see vaping as a way of using nicotine in a less risky way. I actually don’t have a problem with using nicotine regularly, if/when that happens. So I’ll be starting my research and will report back here with my findings.

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