As a person with three and half years of recovery from drugs and alcohol, my true submission to my disease came three weeks ago. I quit vaping. In AA the first step is to admit that we are powerless over our vice and that our lives had become unmanageable. Let’s take a look at the last few days of my vaping life:
First and foremost I’ve dealt with ongoing with health issues for the past five months, including rock hard and swollen salivary glands and a constant cough. Doctors had been unable to figure out what was going on.
I was going broke, spending close to $300 a month on pods. No repercussions could stop me from the instant gratification of purchasing and knowing I had them on me.
I couldn’t drive without vaping.
I couldn’t sleep without my vape next to my head. It was the last thing I did at night and first thing in the morning.
To be sure my vape was always charged, I had three backup chargers: one for car, one for computer and one for home.
Three weeks ago I was driving in my car, chargers, vape and all, and it all hit me. I know it sounds cliche but that’s what happened...it just engulfed me. I thought “oh my god, this is the EXACT feeling that put me in rehab.” That feeling of complete loss of control. It’s utter terror. But this time the terror was enough to kick me into action instead of paralyze me. And the reason for this is because I have worked hard in my path to recovery to build the support system that will hold me accountable and be there to guide me.
So....how did I approach kicking it this time?
Well, it started with a pact I had made with my sister that we were both going to stop the following morning. Knowing my mind as an addict, I had to rationalize and rework the boundaries as I was staying up past midnight, so I pushed the deadline to first thing the next day as soon as her and I woke up not (ya, I know, it’s bad). Having been competitive with my sister our entire lives, I thought I’d just do this until she drops out, allowing myself another excuse to jump back into the nightmare. So the next day I started with absolutely no pods in my apartment, and literally threw my empty uncharged vape in the back of my closet, a space that has needed to be cleaned out for three years. I figured if I get around to conquering that task, I’ll deserve the vape at the end. 😉 I had also planned ahead and had the nicoderm patch ready. I was prepared.
I’ll be honest, the first week was hard. Surprisingly, the hardest part for me was not the lack of nicotine. It was more the habit of having something in my hand at all times. So I found a heart shaped fuzzy light-up stress ball that became my new vape. I held when I drove, watched tv, fell asleep, etc. — I still do. Additionally, I use a relatively small purse so most of the time I end up carrying my stress heart with me in my hand everywhere. Being able to breathe again when I walk makes it worth me looking silly, because by the second week I began to notice a change in my health slightly, which gave me a lot of hope and motivation.
My sister ended up caving but I refused to go back, and I also realized I had no feelings of achievement over her. I wanted her to succeed which is what recovery is all about. The end of that second week it got to my head a little. I was telling my therapist and coach how easy it was to quit smoking and began to make the joke that I should just relapse on everything because I am so good at quitting (needless to say, absolutely NO ONE found that funny).
But in all seriousness, this is hard and it is a real addiction, one that may not be taken as seriously as others but it needs to be. There is not much testing and that scares me. Having a life full of people in recovery, I believe most view it the way I did; many say, “why would I stop? At least I’m not doing the stuff I was doing before.” This may be true, but the two don’t have to coincide or cancel each other out. Yes, I may have been doing worse, AND vaping was severely affecting my health. Three and a half years ago I thought I was beginning my journey to a better life and now I feel that revival again which brings me great comfort.
Thanks to Mara for sharing her story with us!
You are not alone! There are free resources to help you or someone you know quit e-cigarettes and vapes.
Visit Truth Initiative Vaping and join their free e-cigarette quit program by texting “DITCHJUUL” to 88709.
Call the California Smokers Helpline anytime toll free.
Download UCSD’s no vape app to help keep you on track, monitor your progress and set reminders.