Vapers come in all shapes and sizes; while some are happy to keep puffing away, others set out with an end-goal in mind.
Either option is absolutely fine of course, but for those who chose vaping as a way to move away from nicotine altogether, the road can get a little rocky.
Don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of strong-willed individuals out there who have the admirable ability to drop their habit cold turkey. The majority of us however will likely find it a little trickier to move away from those higher strength e-liquids on their journey towards being nicotine free.
What to look out for when lowering your nicotine strength
There are a few important things to keep track of when you decide to drop to a lower nicotine strength – of course your goal s your own, and how you achieve it is up to you, but we will be assuming here that you are looking to either maintain or reduce your vaping frequency as well as the nicotine strength of the e-liquid.
Some of things to look out for are:
Any time you quit anything, there is always a risk of you slipping back into old ways. In this context that could either be returning to a higher nicotine strength e-liquid, or worse, smoking itself.
There are lots of situations that can cause a relapse, from stress and anxiety to peer pressure, you can learn more about them all in our blog. The trick to managing these moments all depends on your own attitude and outlook.
Relapse to smoking itself however is a real possibility if your vaping habit no longer meets the cravings left by your smoking habit. Dropping to a lower nicotine strength vape juice can leave you with less satisfaction.
Making sure you have the tools in place to endure the initial challenging period after switching to a lower strength will give your body time to adjust without slipping off course.
One thing people don’t always notice when dropping down nicotine strengths is compensating behaviour. Essentially, take note of how often you reach for your device, and how long you use it for.
If you notice you are getting through your e-liquid twice as fast, or holding that (your) device twice as often, you might be compensating for the fact you just dropped down a nicotine level.
It’s only natural, your body is used to getting a certain amount of nicotine with each puff, if that suddenly isn’t being delivered, our brains instinctively tell us to start vaping more.
You just need to have a little self-awareness and control, so you can take responsibility for these urges, and make sure you don’t end up exactly where we were before trying to reduce our strength, by vaping twice as intensely.
Biting off more than you can chew
While it may sound a little cliché, small steps really do lead to big changes. Suddenly going from 20mg nic salts to a 3mg vape liquid is unlikely to be a successful switch.
Working your way slowly down through the available strengths, from 18mg to 12mg to 6mg and so on, will give your body the best chance of adjusting to the decreasing level of nicotine it is allowed to absorb.
Using this careful approach is far more likely to help you achieve your goals. And will help reduce your chance of relapse.
How long until my lower strength feels normal?
Everybody is different so there is no guaranteed answer here, your lifestyle and environment will have a massive impact on how effective any form of cessation will be.
Typically, you should expect your new strength to feel more ‘normal’ after one to two weeks of regular use – just keep an eye on any compensating vaping habits!
Timeline of addiction
While stepping down your nicotine strength will not cause as severe effects as going cold turkey, understanding the challenges this kind of decision can present can help you manage your behaviour as you work your way down from the higher strengths.
Below is a recognised timeline of nicotine addiction and withdrawal – mild forms of these effects may be felt as you step down strengths, particularly if you choose to jump from high to low very quickly.~
||30 minutes to 4 hours:The initial effects from the nicotine will wear off and you’ll start to crave more.|
||10 hours: You will be very restless, physically craving a cigarette, and wondering how to fill the time. You may feel sad and hopeless.|
||24 hours: Irritability will kick in and your appetite will increase.|
||2 days: You’ll likely have headaches as the nicotine leaves your system.|
||3 days: The nicotine should be gone from your system at this point. Your cravings should taper off but anxiety may start to rise.|
||1 week: Pat yourself on the back, you’ve made it through the worst. Avoiding triggers is vital to avoid relapse.|
||2 to 4 weeks: You still won’t have much energy, but any mental fog should be clearing, and your appetite will settle down. Your cough, depression, and anxiety should also improve.|
||5 weeks on: With most physical symptoms behind you, the key is now remaining strong mentally.|
For more advice about managing nicotine, check out our best practice blog, or if you are unsure if vaping is the right alternative for you, then explore your potions in our guide, Finding the Right Alternative.