New research reveals nicotine addiction and vaping quit attempts are on the rise among young adults
By Cancer Council NSW
A new report released from the Generation Vape study that examines the vaping status and behaviours among Australian’s aged 18-24, has found young people are increasingly reporting being addicted to vaping. Young adult attempts to quit vaping are also at an all-time high and there is a significant increase in vape use to relieve stress and anxiety.
Alecia Brooks, Cancer Council’s Tobacco Issues Committee Chair said, “while there is high knowledge among young people that vaping and nicotine are addictive, there is a very poor understanding of how addiction occurs, what the signs of addiction entail, or how challenging it might be to quit”.
The report shows that addiction can occur unexpectedly and unintentionally, with vaping starting out as a social activity, and developing into a daily activity.
The most common times when young adults vape continues to be when out socialising (60.1%), followed by when feeling stressed or anxious (25.9%), when at a friend’s house (22.8%) and when seeing someone else do it (19.2%).
“Vaping when stressed or anxious has significantly increased, with over a quarter of participants vaping to relieve stress. This raises serious alarm bells as it is a strong indicator of addiction” said Associate Professor Becky Freeman, University of Sydney, Chief Investigator of the Generation Vape project.
A 23-year-old participant of the study described her experience, “there has been times where I’m like maybe having a panic attack or something, and that nicotine release like running through my body makes me feel calm again, I guess the absence of the craving makes me feel calm, I suppose”.
“We know that nicotine is highly addictive and mood altering. While many tobacco and vape users report nicotine relieves stress, anxiety, and depression, sadly the signs of
nicotine withdrawal include anxiety, irritability, restlessness and cravings. It can become a cycle of dependence that’s difficult to break” A/Prof Freeman added.
At an all time high, the study found that almost one third of vapers have tried to quit in the past but have been unsuccessful. Regarding future quitting intentions, over 40% of current vapers reported planning to quit in the next 30 days to 6 months.
“I couldn’t really think that much about what I like about vaping, it’s just the absence of nicotine withdrawal that I like staying away from. That’s why I continue to vape, because I don’t like going through that itch phase, it’s not comfortable” another participant quoted.
Experiences of negative health effects including addiction are continuing to increase among young adults, with intentions and attempts to quit at an all-time high, and a continued increase in vaping to relieve anxiety or stress.
“We applaud the Federal Government for the ongoing implementation of measures to tackle the issue of vaping and smoking, including stopping the import and sale of vapes outside the pharmacy model, public health campaigns and quit support programs. Our study continues to highlight the importance of comprehensive policy action and quit support to protect our younger generations, the window of opportunity is now.” Ms Brooks concludes.