The Feelings of Quitting Nicotine

By Juliette Humphreys | October 3, 2022


No Vaping Sign

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart


Black hand bag in tow, Taylor Osheyack approached the cafe table and sat down. Her white tee shirt has “NO SLEEP” printed in bold letters, but she couldn’t look more happy to be there.


This past July, the American Heart Association released information showing that daily nicotine use has been steadily increasing among Americans since 2020: “between 2018 and 2020, the prevalence of daily e-cigarette use among young adults aged 21 to 24 years increased from 4.4% to 6.6%” (DAIC, 2022). Cigarette smoking and vaping is a continuous epidemic among young people in this country, and quitting is just as scary.


Osheyack, 24 years olds, has been smoking cigarettes since she was 19. She began vaping not long after. But today, she is 12 days clean of any nicotine use.


At 19, Osheyack chose to start smoking as a “rebellion” towards her then boyfriend. “I took his mother’s cigarettes into his bathroom. He didn’t want me to smoke even though he did so I was like, well, that’s stupid.” She laughed while reflecting on this sardonic point in her life.


When her cigarette smoking became more of a problem, she became more desperate. “I used to live without a job, no money, and I would go out and find like- half smoked cigarettes on the ground and finish them.”


Smoking began to affect her health. “What made it feel very real was I got ‘the cough,’ you know the kind. I started getting muscle pains from breathing all around my back.”


Cigarettes and vapes took a toll on her financially, as well. Taylor said if she were buying cigarettes, it would be about $12 every two days. If she were buying a vape, she would spend $15 dollars a week. This totals up to about $780 to $2,190 a year.


She decided to quit cold turkey. This means an abrupt stop, no careful preparation. When asked why this approach, Taylor had a surprising answer. “I waited until everything was really bad. I was like, if I'm focusing on all the other things that are bad happening in my life, quitting nicotine couldn’t be the worst. I just waited until the worst moment, ironically.”


When quitting any substance, withdrawal symptoms can hit hard. “With cigarettes, I got the withdrawal symptoms; angry and irritated. The regular. With vaping, it was like an out of body experience. Whenever someone has a negative intention or negative conversation with you, it’s, like, ten times worse. You don’t want to be there. It’s not even that you’re angry at them, you just don’t want to be there. It is so much worse quitting vaping over cigarettes.”


The stresses of quitting nicotine only worsen when working a stressful job. Taylor is the assistant manager of a retail store in Crossgates Mall, Earthbound. “Customers like to argue. It’s frustrating, especially when I am already irritable. But, there's a certain way of handling things. A script. I’ll still get out of it without hurting anyone’s feelings. If I was really stressed out, I can always think of the rational script to just get a bad encounter over with.”


When asked what Taylor uses now to relieve stress, she picks up her black handbag. “This is my little guy.” In her hand is a CBD oil vape pen. CBD oil has a calming effect for people. Taylor’s partner explained to her that mimicking the muscle movement of bringing a cigarette to your mouth still releases the same serotonin, “it gets under your skin, it’s part of the habit.” With using her CBD pen, she gets the same feeling of smoking a cigarette without the harsh chemicals. She doesn’t plan to buy another pen once this one is empty; “Once it’s done, I’m done.”


Taylor’s partner understands her current struggles with quitting nicotine cold turkey because he did the same two years ago. “I don’t think I could do it any other way, without him. I’m thankful because I would still be smoking if not. It’s helpful to be like ‘I have all these questions, can you help me?” Her partner gives her a lot of guidance in her withdrawal journey.


She has already noticed some changes in the days she’s been without nicotine. “My back doesn’t hurt anymore. My lungs aren’t in pain. I have a weird one too, I noticed that I have color in my face and better circulation. I can feel the tips of my fingers and toes, it’s not even something I noticed I lost until I got it back.”


While Taylor is still in the beginning of her clean of nicotine process, she is excited for the healthier road ahead.


Like Taylor, a lot of adults from ages 18 to 25 suffer from nicotine addiction. Taylor is walking proof that quitting is possible.


“Breaking this habit is so important for anyone,” Taylor said.


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