A few months ago I wrote an article titled "Drop The Juul, You Aren't Cuul" and it explained my dislike for Juuling. I raised my nose at the juvenile nicotine fad, particularly because it changed from a safe cigarette alternative to "vape tricks" and "clouds" and "50 nic bro."
But when one of my friends called me a "hater," I quickly took a look at myself. Was I needlessly hating on it for the sake of being different? Did I look lame by trying to comment on how lame something else was? And then, when another one of my closest friends bought a Juul while on a business trip, I decided it was time to rethink this thing.
Open minded, I did more research. I found out I didn't have to spend upwards of $35 on a starter kit and could instead buy a disposable little nicotine vape, called a Stig, for $7, sold at some gas stations and smoke shops. I learned the numbers: the nicotine percentages and milliliter count. I also learned that these nicotine vapor products have delivery methods and nicotine content specifically designed to get people off of cigarettes. Because of this, the nicotine dosage in each hit is intentional and measured.
My device was a sleek little plastic dispenser, similar to a tube of Chapstick. I took a few puffs and the headrush of adrenaline and dopamine were immediate. Accelerated heartbeat, relaxed eyes, numb extremities? This was definitely a drug.
I went through the next few days taking constant mental notes of how I felt both on and off the Stig. The headrush was fun every time, it left me feeling calm and content, although sometimes a small comedown could leave me with a tiny hint of nausea. Like any drug, it's a slippery slope, and the Mighty-Mint flavor I picked up tastes just like a stick of gum, making it even easier to casually pick up and inhale at any moment.
Although the fast-paced server environment of my work was a seamless application for my newfound thrill, when I got home, I felt stressed and wondered what it would be like to keep hitting it while doing pretty much nothing at home. Having plenty of experience with drugs in the past and recognizing the early signs of craving, I knew I shouldn't hit it again.
That being said, these vapor nicotine products were originally intended to get people off of the smelly cancer sticks we know as cigarettes; the method of delivery is just enough to satisfy an itch and leave you no longer craving a cigarette. The nicotine stays in your system for a few minutes before gradually tapering off, so there's no noticeable "comedown." A few minutes after using it, I didn't feel like I wanted to use it again.
I also noticed several positive effects, specifically: I was calmer, I thought faster, and I spoke clearer. I could see myself using this as a spur for creative endeavors, like writing and painting and even dealing with people. It made me feel very comfortable and although my thoughts might have been a little accelerated, my movements felt slow and controlled. Within a day, I liked this more than caffeine. Although nicotine still affects the digestive system, similar to caffeine, this was more controllable and, in small doses, had no jitters nor tired comedown like caffeine often leaves.
My week of experimenting with nicotine vape products has not come to an end, but I already see why people continue to use them. And although I enjoy toeing the line between risk and reward, as is the case with possible nicotine dependence, I am interested to see how my biopsychology is altered through the use of these products long term. Will the rewards of focus and calm outshine the annoyance of possible nicotine dependence? Only time will tell.