E-Cigarettes and Recovery

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The first time I saw someone puffing on an electronic cigarette in public, I had no idea what they were doing, but now it is becoming more common to see. You are starting to see the ads for electronic cigarettes all over the place. (We even have them on this site.) But, is “vaping” really a good alternative to smoking? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons and how this relates to recovery.

Tobacco use has become a big issue in the substance abuse field. I have known many addictions counselors who were addicted to nicotine. In years past I would say that I knew more counselors that smoked than didn’t. I have also known counselors that had very strong opinions that counselors shouldn’t be counseling if they are still dealing with their own addiction issues. However, that is a different issue to be dealt with on another day.

E cigarette for addiction treatment

Here are some pros and cons of Electronic Cigarettes.


  • Delivers nicotine to the body without delivering all of the other harmful substances found in cigarette smoke.
  • Delivers nicotine to the body without delivering all of the other harmful substances found in cigarette smoke.
  • More socially acceptable because they don’t have an unpleasant smell or create a smoky atmosphere.
  • Eliminate second hand smoke that is harmful to those around smokers.
  • Less expensive than smoking
  • Like the gum or patches, can be used to reduce the level of nicotine over time.


  • You are still getting harmful nicotine and you are still addicted.
  • Not currently regulated by the FDA, but that is likely to change.
  • With flavors like chocolate, cookies and cream and all sorts of fruity flavors they appear to be appealing to a younger audience.

E Cigarettes is a form of “harm reduction” much like methadone treatment. (That is also an issue for another day.) Being addicted to methadone isn’t wonderful but it is certainly better than shooting heroin every day.

Puffing on an electronic cigarette certainly seems to be an improvement over smoking

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Vaping meets the criteria for dependency for those who use ecigs with nicotine, but it does not meet the criteria for addiction. Ecigs have been proven to be a relatively safe, very effective, evidence-base practice for smoking cessation.

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