Addiction From Puffing One Vape

The struggles of one vaper to get clean


Graphic by Bernice Tang

You probably don’t want to hear it, but it might be a good idea to put the vape down.

The rise of a new popular e-cigarette, the Flum Float, has caught my attention. I have seen countless of these small, colored tube cartridges all over campus, as well as almost every place young adults conjugate.

Let my experience serve as a cautionary tale.

Work was busy, a fair amount of customers, dealing with a lot of difficult people and having no energy. My coworker, Victor, and I had just finished up and we were standing over some railing outside, just having a conversation. It was like any of the other hundred conversations we had before..

After a couple minutes he pulled out his backpack, grabbed his vape and asked, “You want a hit?”

Of course I caved.

It always starts with one.

I was stressed from the daily struggles like most 19-year-old college students. It was nothing out of the ordinary. It was a casual dose of girl problems. The usual unsubmitted Canvas assignment and the classic crazy Latina mother waiting for me at home.

However, in my head, everything was going terribly. Those were the problems running through my head during work. Added that with a busy shift and the mind of a teenager, all it took was one offer.

The first hit felt amazing, it was a nice flavor, usually fruity exploded in the mouth. Then the smoke raced through the esophagus into the lungs and euphoria.

For a couple seconds it felt like I was floating.

This euphoria was where it began and ended.

Over the next couple weeks, while I did not buy one, I enjoyed my almost daily experience of a couple hits after my shift with Victor. Eventually, I ended up buying e-cigarettes regularly, casually going through one or two in about a week. I would bring one with me almost everywhere.

I was so worried about the small rush. The tiny dopamine released was all I craved. Over time my body started to feel the effects of everything.

For one, I was always tired. My body felt like it barely had energy to do anything besides a tiny reserve for work. Even at work, I would find myself not moving as swiftly as I am capable. Merely scrapped by. My relationships suffered and my social battery was extremely low, I did not want to converse with people.

The worst part came in the morning, when I was all alone.

Most mornings I would wake up feeling even more tired. I would have headaches, my eyes strained and my bowels in a knot. Usually it was a whole 20 to 30 minute process of me laying in my bed, trying to convince myself on why I should get up.

“At least we get paid at work today,” is one of the ways I would reason with myself. This was my life for around a year; heavy bags on my eyes coupled with zero energy.

I couldn’t stop because in my mind, I had convinced myself that I needed it. At this point all the issues in my life had gotten to me. My grandma who raised me and my sister had passed away. Merely a month later when my dad was sent to the hospital and diagnosed with stage four heart failure, nearly meant dying in the process.

Life had never hit me so hard at once, and that small e-cigarette was my way to cope with all that at the time.

“At least it is better than weed,” another classic line my mind would tell me as a way to reason with myself. By this point my mind was just making excuses.

I didn’t need it, I wanted it.

The excuses finally ran out one fateful morning.

It was a normal day; a slight headache coupled with strained eyes. I got the courage to get up, shower and head to work. My drive to work got increasingly worse. I was seeing stars in my eyes, my vision was blurred and I felt a part of my body going numb.

I managed to get to work. I tried to tough it out as best I could. Twenty minutes later, while helping the customers, I noticed myself struggling to process their orders. My words started to slur and reached the point where my mind could not make one cohesive sentence.

I could not see out of my left eye at this point.

There I was working with one eye, hanging on by a thread. I told my coworker I needed a small water break. I went out to that railing where my addiction first started and leaned against it, feeling my mind going numb at this point. I remembered just wanting to close my eyes and make the pain go away. Even with my eyes closed my head was pounding so violently I just wanted to sleep.

I closed my eyes, contemplated life and asked my co-worker, Nicole, to help me call my mom. I wanted to go home, but she took me to the hospital instead. I got to Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin Park and my mom had to speak for me since I was hardly coherent. I rapidly got hooked to an IV and the nurse explained that I am probably having a severe migraine attack.

Waking up, my mind felt groggy, I could not remember everything at the time. It felt almost as if that one experience started a new blank canvas for my life. I knew I had to be honest with my doctor if I wanted to get better. The doctor came in and I explained everything to him, telling him that I was going through two of these cartridges in a single week as well as my family situation.

First thing he told me: quit the vape. It was a trigger for my migraines and the only way to make it better is to stop.

I stopped.

Thank god I did. Since then, my mental state has been better, my relationships with the people in my life have improved and I now have energy to do the things I love. Just put it down, there are other ways to cope with your problems. Talk to someone (it helps), get sunlight, pick up a hobby, your body or mind does not need e-cigarettes or anything else to solve your problems.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, visit SAMHSA.