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Vaping dependence and young people

Vaping dependence – what it looks like and what you can do as a parent or carer

While many vapes claim to be nicotine free, most do in fact contain nicotine, and a lot of it. This means people who vape can quickly find themselves dependent on nicotine. How do you know if your young person is addicted to vaping nicotine? And what can you do to help?

How does nicotine dependence work?

Nicotine is very addictive and interacts with the brain’s reward system. When a person inhales nicotine (through vapes or cigarettes) it hijacks their systems leading to the feeling that vaping has taken control. When someone stops using nicotine, they can experience nicotine withdrawal which is the body returning to its normal state. Those withdrawal feelings usually fade away with time.

How can you tell if a person is addicted to vaping?

Ask your loved ones these questions:

  • Do you feel anxious or irritable when you are in a place where you cannot vape?
  • Have you vaped in places you knew you were not allowed because you had a craving?
  • Do you find yourself thinking about vaping when you are focused on an activity like work or study?
  • Have you tried quitting but felt that you couldn’t?
  • Do you feel that you do not have control over how much you vape?

If they answer yes to one or more of these questions, then they might be addicted to vaping.

Understanding how nicotine affects the body and recognising the feeling that vaping is taking over can help them realise their want to break from nicotine dependence.

What are nicotine withdrawal symptoms?

When someone stops vaping, their body and brain are adjusting to being nicotine-free. In the first few days and weeks after quitting, they will likely experience nicotine withdrawals. These usually start a few hours after someone last vaped and are the strongest in the first week of quitting. The good news is, for most people, the symptoms fade and are gone after 2-4 weeks. Everyone’s quitting journey is different, but it’s easier to help your young person manage withdrawals when you both know what to expect.

Common vaping withdrawals symptoms?

  • Intense cravings to vape
  • Anxious, restless
  • feeling irritable or angry
  • Difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly
  • Unable to sleep and waking up throughout the night
  • Feeling sad, crying
  • Increased hunger

How to cope with quitting and withdrawal?

To help give your young person the best chance of quitting vaping, a great place to start is helping them to plan and prepare to stop. Read our article together on tips to help quit vaping.

Quitline is here to help your young person quit vaping.

Our friendly Quitline counsellors are non-judgemental and experienced in helping people of all ages to stop vaping. If your young person needs help with cravings and withdrawal symptoms you can contact Quitline together.

There are many ways to get in touch with Quitline.

  • Call 13 7848 Mon-Fri 8am to 8pm
  • Text ‘call back’ to 0482 090 634
  • Webchat at
  • Message us on Facebook Messenger @quitvic or WhatsApp 61 385 832 920 (VIC, SA, WA, NT only)
  • Request a callback from one of our counsellors using the online form:

Last updated February 2024.

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