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Are Nicotine-Free Vapes Addictive? (Safety, Side Effects & More)

We all know that vapes with nicotine are addictive. But what about nicotine-free vaping? Can you get addicted to vaping without nicotine, too? Are nicotine-free vapes addictive?

This article will take an in-depth look at some common questions people have about the potential for addiction to nicotine-free vaping and whether or not you might be at risk.

Why is Nicotine So Addictive?

Before we dive in, let's first look at what makes nicotine such an addictive substance in the first place. This knowledge will help you understand the mechanism of all addictions. It will also offer some clues about whether or not you can get addicted to nicotine-free vaping.

People become addicted to nicotine because it directly triggers their brains’ reward systems. In short, it just makes you feel good. This stimulation creates a powerful craving that can be exceptionally hard to resist. Just ask anyone who’s tried to quit smoking. It is not easy.

Nicotine is so hard to give up because it works on a fundamental physiological level. Specifically, nicotine intake causes your body to release dopamine, which is known as the pleasure chemical.

You can probably see where this is headed already: any substance that causes your body to release a chemical that's responsible for pleasure is going to be very difficult to put down.

But the real kicker is that, over time, your brain becomes used to the regular influx of dopamine you get every time you take a drag of a cigarette. Because you get used to it, you build up a tolerance and need more to enjoy the same effect.

That means that as you continue to smoke and build the habit, you need more and more nicotine to get the same amount of pleasure from the dopamine release. That's why many smokers may start only smoking occasionally but slowly and methodically advance to pack-a-day smokers.

But it gets even worse: After a while, your brain comes to rely on nicotine to get its dopamine reward. That means it becomes more difficult for your body to release this reward chemical in other ways.

So what happens? When you take that source of dopamine away, you become irritable, fidgety, restless, and have trouble concentrating (to name just a few symptoms of nicotine withdrawal) when you try to quit.

This deterioration of ones constitution happens because ones brain now relies on regular nicotine delivery just to make the dopamine system function normally — you can see why many people say quitting smoking is one of the most challenging things they’ve ever had to do.

And that's just the physical component. There's also a powerful psychological component because smoking and nicotine vaping create a deeply ingrained hand-to-mouth habit that can be equally difficult to break.

That habit gives rise to a further question: whether or not nicotine-free vaping is addictive.

Are nicotine-free vapes addictive?

First, what is a nicotine-free vape? It’s a diffuser containing e-juice made with flavoring and perhaps other ingredients, like herbs or vitamins, but without nicotine.

Because these vapes don't contain nicotine, you simply cannot develop the same physical dependence on that substance that inevitably develops from cigarette smoking or nicotine vaping. That much should be obvious.

However, there's still the psychological part of vaping — the hand-to-mouth or oral fixation component — that can become an ingrained habit.

You could theoretically become so used to the act of non-nicotine vaping that your dopamine system becomes conditioned to expect it. But whether or not you can become genuinely addicted to a non-nicotine vape is very debatable.

There are things you can do if you find yourself becoming reliant on the psychological aspects of vaping to lessen this possibility, and we cover many of these below.

Are nicotine-free vapes that much safer than nicotine vapes?

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Based on what we just discussed concerning the seriously addictive and harmful nature of nicotine and the fact that nicotine-free vapes don't deliver the same problems, it's almost a truism that nicotine-free vapes are safer than their nicotine-containing cousins.

But being safer does not mean being entirely safe for everyone, and it doesn't mean being completely risk-free.

One of the biggest concerns — even with nicotine-free vapes — is the potential that some companies might include hazardous ingredients in their vape juices.

As we've covered numerous times before in our articles Best Nicotine Free Vape, Are 0 Nicotine Vapes Safe? and Are Plant-Based Vapes Safe? it's essential to pay attention to ingredient labels to ensure that nothing harmful is being put into the vape juice you're using.

For example, it was once fairly common for companies to include chemicals like diacetyl and vitamin E acetate in their vapes.

Once it was shown that these two chemicals can cause serious health problems, most companies stopped using them. You want to ensure chemicals like these are not included in any vape juice you're considering.

Also, stick with vapes from quality manufacturers with reputations for producing high-quality items.

Pay attention to the company's number of years in business, the quantity of user reviews its products have, whether or not its products have outside third-party expert reviews, and similar forms of proof that help demonstrate that the company produces quality products without harmful additives.

If you follow these precautions and you don't use nicotine-free vapes that substitute other harmful ingredients, then it's safe to say that nicotine-free vapes are likely safer for you than vapes with nicotine.

Could vaping without nicotine cause any side effects? Are nicotine-free vapes addictive?

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Even nicotine-free vaping has its pros and cons, and there are several side effects that you could potentially experience even if your vape is entirely nicotine-free.

We mentioned a couple of them above — namely, the severe health problems that can occur if your vape contains ingredients known to be harmful, like diacetyl and vitamin E acetate.

It is always vital to determine what is in a nicotine-free vape you’re thinking of trying. Thankfully, the most dangerous ingredients are pretty rare in today's vapes.

However, a few common e-juice constituents that are generally considered safe might still adversely affect you.

For example, if you’re a heavy vaper, you might experience irritation in your lungs or airways, which can manifest as symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, or other problems that go hand-in-hand with an irritated airway.

A few other possible side effects can include symptoms like dry mouth, headaches, or dizziness — particularly if you're a very heavy vaper or happen to overdo a vaping session. Side effects like these can generally be avoided by cutting back on your vaping sessions.

Also, if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in a particular product’s vape juice, you might experience an allergic reaction. The general rule of thumb is that if you're allergic to it when it's not in a vape, you're going to be allergic to it when it is in a vape.

Finally, some vapes contain additional active ingredients beyond flavoring — constituents like caffeine, vitamins, herbs, or supplements.

Although something like caffeine generally isn't dangerous for most healthy people, using a vape that contains caffeine might not be the best idea if it's a substance to which you're particularly sensitive. The same caution applies to any other ingredients in vape juice.

What is the point of nicotine-free vapes, and why do so many people use them?

Let's start with one of the most prominent and common reasons that someone would choose to use a nicotine-free vape — to help them quit smoking or to help them quit vapes with nicotine.

As mentioned above, one of the significant components of a smoking or vaping addiction is the ritualistic hand-to-mouth habit that needs to be overcome, in addition to nicotine dependence.

By using non-nicotine vapes, people who are trying to quit can tackle one part of the addiction at a time.

They can use nicotine replacement therapies like gum or patches to deal with their physical dependence on nicotine and use nicotine-free vapes to satisfy the habitual component. In theory, this combination can make it easier to quit altogether.

Of course, not everyone is trying to quit something; there's a whole subset of people who simply enjoy the flavors and act of vaping.

These are people who enjoy the social aspect of vaping, find that it helps alleviate social anxiety, or may be drawn to the physical aspects of the hobby, like having something to fidget with to keep ones hands busy.

In short, the reasons why someone might pick up a nicotine-free vape can vary.

What are healthier alternatives to using nicotine-free vapes?

ARRØ Ultra

The answer to this question depends on the reason you're using nicotine-free vapes in the first place.

Suppose you feel that they help you with stress reduction. In that case, you can explore things like meditation, breathing exercises, physical exercise, or any number of other stress-reducing activities as ways to manage stress without vaping.

If you enjoy flavors, you could always turn to things like flavored teas or drinks — or even sugar-free candy and lozenges as a substitute for the kinds of flavors that you might get with your favorite vape.

Does the hand-to-mouth or oral fixation component of vaping keep you hooked? You could always substitute gum or fidget toys (like spinners) to help you deal with those cravings or behaviors.

Devices like our ARRØ diffuser can also be a huge help here. These ARRØ solutions top our lists of healthiest vape pens and best vapes without nicotine for anxiety because ARRØ is what’s known as a flavored-air vape.

ARRØ’s e-juice formulation contains nothing but flavor, making it a demonstrably safer alternative to other, more adulterated options.

If You Choose to Vape, Vape Wisely

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Bottom line – nicotine-free vaping might pose some potential for a psychological reliance on the act of vaping. However, the risk of a genuine chemical dependence is non-existent.

It’s certainly possible to find healthy vapes without nicotine. Our advice? Lower the risk by sticking with devices like our ARRØ diffusers that don’t contain addictive substances of any kind. In other words, if you choose to vape, vape wisely!

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