We asked Juul users about addiction, nicotine withdrawal, and what it’s like to try to quit using the trendy e-cigarette for good.
The e-cigarette Juul has become wildly popular in recent years — but because it provides a potent dose of nicotine, some people may find it hard to stop Juuling once they start.
It’s sleek, USB-shaped, and everywhere right now. Often called the iPhone of e-cigs, the Juul has become the It vape. The battery-powered device heats a liquid, which comes inside cartridges called Juul pods, into a vapor that you inhale. The pods are sold in flavors like mango or mint, and they deliver a hit of nicotine similar to a cigarette but without the burning or smoke — which also makes it easy to use the device indoors.
The Juul is intended to be a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes, but the qualities that make it attractive for adult smokers — the easy-to-use design, yummy flavors, and efficient nicotine delivery — have also made it a hit among young people, including those who weren’t smokers originally. Research has shown that some teens may not even realize they’re vaping nicotine. In 2018, the FDA declared youth vaping an “epidemic” and started cracking down on retailers selling the Juul to minors.
Nicotine is addictive no matter how you consume it — via a cigarette, snuff, vape, etc. However, some argue that Juul’s patented nicotine salt formula — which provides a potent dose of nicotine but is supposedly less harsh on the throat — may make it particularly addictive. While the Juul may help adults switch from cigarettes, some experts worry that it could set up young people and nonsmokers for a lifelong nicotine addiction, BuzzFeed News previously reported.
But what do people who use the Juul — and have tried to quit — actually think?
We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who used the Juul and quit, or tried quitting, to share their experiences and any advice for others. Here are some of their responses:
Nicotine addiction is very real, and quitting can be a difficult and frustrating process. It can lead to nicotine withdrawal, which can include unpleasant emotional and physical symptoms. Some people may need to use nicotine replacement therapy (NCT) — such as gum, patches, or inhalers — to kick their habit for good.
In this post, you’ll hear from people who use or used the Juul regularly, and what it is like trying to stop.
These stories do not represent all people who currently use or have used the Juul, and each individual’s experience with quitting the Juul will vary. However, we do hope these stories help those who are trying to quit, or hope to quit in the future, feel a little less alone.
If you are concerned about your use of tobacco products and want to talk to someone about quitting, visit smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (toll-free) to get connected to your state’s quitline, which offers telephone-based smoking/tobacco cessation services.
1. If weaning off the Juul doesn’t work, try quitting cold turkey if you can.
I knew if I didn’t stop cold turkey I would never stop using it. It’s a worse addiction than actual cigarettes, and there’s no weaning off a Juul!
2. Don’t allow yourself to buy Juul pods.
I started smoking cigarettes when I was 17 and then gradually moved to vapes to replace the cigarettes. Once the Juul came out, I had found my favorite thing. Around October 2018, I decided that I would quit Juul/nicotine. At first it was frustrating but I just didn’t allow myself to buy pods anymore.
3. If you use the Juul to cope with negative feelings, try replacing it with other activities that bring you joy like music, cooking, or walking.
I realized that I had become too reliant on my Juul, and I turned to it to help me deal with negative emotions. Quitting Juul allowed me to figure out better coping mechanisms. Now, instead of turning to my Juul, I enjoy listening to music, cooking/baking, napping, going for walks, or talking with friends. I have also found that I feel so much more alert and I can breathe much easier.
4. Think about how much money you will be saving.
I had also started smoking cigarettes after I started Juuling and was spending over $30 a week on nicotine products. After I quit I’ve had more money and less to hide from people.
5. Focus on how nice it will be to not have to hide your habit from family or friends whom you can’t Juul around.
I was getting ready to go on a family vacation. When I woke up, I realized I had half a pod left and I immediately ran to my bathroom to hit it. I realized how embarrassing it was to have to run to the bathroom every morning on this vacation just to hit a Juul. I cut it cold turkey, and it’s been three and a half months clean. Funny enough, I told my group of friends how “uncool” the Juul is and how that was “sooo last year — the phase is out,” and three of my friends have quit as well with me.
6. If Juuling has affected your ability to breathe or exercise, think about how amazing you’ll feel once you stop.
I started smoking cigarettes as soon as I got to college (so rebellious). I then switched over to vaping to prevent myself from smoking cigarettes. It came to the point where it was so easy to smoke, I just couldn’t stop. I felt like I always was needing to smoke, even more now that I have an object where I could smoke indoors and no one would know. The final straw was when I was walking to class one day and felt like I had gotten the wind kicked out of me. I stopped regularly vaping but will use it occasionally in social settings.
7. Surround yourself with friends who are also trying to quit.
I actually started while I was in treatment for bulimia last December. Another patient gave me a hit of hers and I immediately loved the feeling. I went straight to buy my own and was addicted from the get-go. I recently decided it wasn’t worth the money and possible respiratory issues down the road, so I threw my Juul into the Hudson River. The first couple days were a bitch, but it’s been a little more than a month and I still haven’t bought a new one! Having my friends around has been so helpful since some of them are trying to quit as well.
8. Stop buying your favorite Juul pod flavor and see if it helps.
I stopped using the Juul because when I went to the store and they were out of the flavor I wanted. I had also realized that I was spending too much money on something that I didn’t need. The experience wasn’t too bad; it would be difficult at night when I was at home alone, but after about a week that craving due to boredom went away.
9. Realize how your habit could influence younger siblings or others who look up to you, and quit to be a better role model.
I realized that because I was doing it, my younger sister (a freshman in high school) had started doing it too. When it was me, I wasn’t as worried about the health effects of it, but because it could possibly hurt someone that I love, I quit and convinced her to quit too. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, and in the end, I’m super proud of my decision and relieved that I was able to stop my sister as well.
10. Concentrate on how quitting nicotine might help you improve things that matter to you, like your skin.
I had to stop because it literally ruined my skin. I never had problems with acne growing up, just a few zits here and there but when I started Juuling and taking in so much nicotine my skin was covered in acne. I knew I had to stop but I had become so addicted to my Juul that I kept using it daily despite what it was doing to my skin. I finally found the strength to stop, and it’s been about seven months now. My skin has cleared up but I have terrible acne scars, which is so frustrating because I know my skin would have never looked like this if I hadn’t started Juuling.
11. Be prepared that quitting nicotine can sometimes make depression worse.
I stopped Juuling because the pod quality got lower and lower with each new pack and I couldn’t rip them without vape juice exploding on me. Quitting was a nightmare and it worsened my depression and I binge-ate to get over it. I smoke cigarettes when I feel really bad, so honestly I don’t think I changed anything.
12. Know that you will probably still have cravings — but you can overcome them.
I had never smoked cigarettes before, but I was in love with a girl that Juuled all the time. Let’s just say I thought it would be a great idea to Juul as well to keep her around. Eventually it made me feel gross, and I ditched the Juul and the girl a year later. But I still get those gross nicotine cravings.
13. Distract yourself by drinking water or taking deep breaths if you find yourself craving your Juul.
I quit my Juul for about three months before starting up again. I found that it was pretty easy. I had a few cravings at first, but after a while I just said to myself, “I don’t need to Juul,” and focused on something else like drinking water, eating right, or taking deep breaths. I started again because exams were really stressful. But I think I’ll quit again, this time for good.
14. Make it a New Year’s resolution, if that helps.
I did a light research on the potential health hazards, which was enough to freak me out. That considered, along with the new year, it just seemed like a good time to get rid of my Juul. It hasn’t been difficult for me, probably just because I don’t have access to it at all. It would be more difficult to quit if I still had the Juul in my possession.
15. If Juuling helped you quit cigarettes, view it as a stepping stone on the path to quitting nicotine for good.
I love the Juul. I smoked cigarettes for seven years and the Juul has been the only thing to get me to stop smoking cigarettes. Yes, it is still nicotine, and I knew and understood that. I never thought I could stop smoking, and in my eyes the Juul is the best thing to get off cigarettes. Because let’s face it…cigarettes are all-around gross. Cigarette-free for four months.
16. If your cravings are really bad, talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement products like nicotine gum.
I was told to try vaping to quit smoking cigarettes. I started out with a cheaper vape like the Juul. It turns out vaping is a very expensive habit, and I ended up just spending lots of money on accessories to modify, replace, or fix my vape. Some of the flavors were really tempting, making it harder to quit the nicotine. I would always get a cold or weird itchiness anytime I would try to quit.
I got very irritable and would start smoking cigarettes in between breaks from the vape, due to not being able to afford maintenance and the nicotine withdrawal. I became very depressed anytime I would quit smoking or vaping and then start again. It got so bad my doctor had to put me on an antidepressant in order to quit. I called the quitline and got free nicotine gum, and that helped with the cravings. The vape is not worth the withdrawals or long-term side effects associated with nicotine. It is an addictive drug with grave consequences.
17. Recognize that it can be a true addiction, and you may have to get rid of your Juul to stop.
It is so addictive. It truly has become an epidemic. I try to quit, but every one of my friends has one. Plus it’s so expensive to keep up with. It was the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did before I went to sleep. Now that’s an addiction. I decided to throw out my Juul.
18. Remember that quitting nicotine is tough, and it might not happen right away.
I started Juuling when I was 17, a senior in high school. It started at a party where a couple of people had them and were passing it around, but the next day, everyone I knew had a Juul. At first, it was definitely something fun to do because it looked “cool” and you get a buzz. But now, all of my friends and kids even younger than me are stuck with an addiction we never knew we would have. The worst part is that even though I’m still underage (I’m 19 now and the age restriction is 21) I’ve never had trouble getting pods from smoke shops. Half the time I don’t get carded. We all want to quit, but we don’t know how.
Community submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
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