Vaping and Veterans: Pulling the Trigger on Vaping
Vaping and Veterans: Should Veterans be Vaping?
There are some confusing areas around the comparison between smoking and vaping. A lot of people are comparing vaping to smoking a little too much. The most important thing to understand is; vaping is not an alternative to smoking, it should not be used as a substitute to a cigarette. Saying that both vaporizers and cigarettes can be used as a tool to give the body nicotine.
Vaping vs Smoking
As mentioned above, both cigarettes and vaporizers can be used to provide the nicotine to feed an addiction. However, can vaping be better for a veteran looking to eventually stop the addiction and find a cure to one of their many possibilities of health conditions?
One of the main reasons veterans are looking to use vaporizers instead of cigarettes are because of some juices are nicotine free. If you’ve smoked in the past I’m sure you’ll agree that part of the addiction to smoking isn’t just about the feeling you get after, it’s the process, having 5 minutes to chill out and reflect on things.
With nicotine free juices, vapors have the option to control the amount of nicotine getting into their bodies gradually; eventually getting rid of it entirely. When you take into consideration the other conditions that a veteran could be facing; not having to worry about feeding a nicotine addiction could help them out a lot.
As mentioned previously in this article, sometimes, to help a veteran get through some of their other conditions all they need is a distraction. For some veterans, that distraction is vaping or smoking; they can recognize when they’re about to have a PTSD attack and simply have a quick vape or smoke, this will calm them down and could reduce the risk of having an attack.
Similar practice is already being done with dogs and pets. We all know that a dog is a man’s best friend. However, they have a great ability to tell when something is wrong, going up to the veteran before they have an attack, so they have something to stroke and calm them down; it would work the same way as this.
It’s Still Bad
It’s important to understand that both smoking and vaping are not great, and if possible should not be done. However, if the methods mentioned above can be used in a positive effect for the veterans then sometimes those positive effects greatly outweigh the negatives.
Why do Veterans Smoke?
When it comes down to it, there are numerous reasons why Veterans will be smoking. Sometimes, it’s down to personal choice; although the majority of the time especially in the military there is a lot of peer pressure. According to the Institute of Medicine; written in their Combating Tobacco in Military and Veteran Populations reports, Male veterans (25-64) are more likely to become avid smokers than non-veterans. With smoking being around 40% more popular amongst veterans than the average civilian. Here is the most common reason why veterans start smoking and why they feel the need to carry on.
It’s the most common habit
In the military, it’s no secret that pretty much everyone smokes. Believe it or not, this is one of the main reasons why people start or carry on smoking in the Military. When you’re in a family or community that is as strong and tight as the military; there’s no surprise that habits and hobbies will quickly pass through the ranks.
Sometimes knowing that you have that connection to your fellow veterans may help you get through your times in the military. It’s also quite common for cigarettes to be used as a reward or stress relief tool, this will eventually lead to developing a nicotine addiction; something that is common for veterans in the military.
When it comes down to it, veterans appreciate their free time; much the same as everyone else, and it’s rather important to ensure they get as much stress relief as possible during their free time. Therefore, smoking is used as that stress relief the majority of the time. Having a connection to one’s free time, it’s easy to attach a positive appeal to the habit making it more and more common to depend on it.
The Nicotine Addiction
As mentioned above, eventually you will develop a nicotine addiction from smoking. Nicotine addictions can commonly be associated with other Mental and Physical addictions. Alongside this, veterans will sometimes leave the military with other mental and physical conditions; such as PTSD and panic attacks.
Although having a nicotine addiction while in the military can be manageable, and the majority of the time having the addiction once you leave the military is also manageable. When associated with other conditions which are also common amongst veterans that are when problems will start to occur. Saying that sometimes smoking/vaping can actually help other conditions; more on this later
Veterans Smoking After the Military
As veterans leave the military, they will more than likely start adopting other conditions. It’s quite common for veterans to develop a form of PTSD if they’ve experienced something traumatic in the military. When taking these other conditions into consideration; sometimes having a nicotine addiction and the tools needed to feed the addiction can do more good than hard.
Veterans that have started vaping after leaving the military have started using the tool to feed their addiction, and this has proved to have a positive effect on their mental health. Alongside this, a lot of veterans use smoking after the military as a tool to fight their PTSD condition having something that you know calms you and relaxes your nerves is a great tool to have when suffering from such a condition.
There are plenty of reasons why veterans would smoke after the military; however, we can safely assume that the two main reasons are as follows: Nicotine Addiction, as mentioned previously. They’ve developed a nicotine addiction throughout their time in the military smoking. Stress Relief, using either a cigarette or vaporizer as a form to prevent PTSD attacks or other mental health conditions.
Health Conditions Developed Through Smoking in the Military
I mentioned earlier how the nicotine addiction that is developed through smoking could eventually lead to becoming one of the main factors in other health conditions also developed while in the military.
This is the most common condition developed after the military; with veterans facing some traumatic experiences. Thus, it leads to a type of stress disorder; mainly known for causing panic attacks and huge amounts of stress levels amongst veterans. Normally, the panic attacks will come from a trigger or a prompt and is treated with prescription drugs and therapy.
Sometimes, veterans can use cigarettes or vaporizers to help neutralize the stress levels they’re facing, eventually helping the veterans gain control over their PTSD and counter an attack before it happens.
PTSD can also have connections with other mental conditions such as Anxiety, Depression and other stress disorders.
Long Term Conditions
It’s well known that smoking causes more long-term conditions than short term. As a veteran; taking priority over your other health conditions will be more important to you, it’s highly unlikely that you care too much about a nicotine addiction; the majority of the time the positives of that addiction will greatly outweigh the negatives.
A lot of veterans have a “live in the now” mentality, not caring too much about the future. Because of this, you can tell their mentality about smoking is much the same; they’d rather use a vaporizer or cigarette that helps with their current stresses and conditions; rather than protect themselves further in life, and let’s face it. If they’ve smoked in the military for however many years, the majority of the damage would’ve already been done.
Throughout the time that veterans would have been using cigarettes as mentioned, they would’ve developed a nicotine addiction. Frankly, this is the main reason they carry on smoking after the military, and one of the main reasons why they might transition to vaping.
What Help is Available to Veterans?
So we’ve understood that it’s common for veterans to have a nicotine addiction, it’s also common for veterans to have enjoyment from smoking or vaping. What is available to them to ensure that they can quit if they decide to? What are some of the best techniques veterans can use to quit vaping or smoking?
Find Your Trigger
We’ve understood that there is a trigger for health conditions such as PTSD or panic attacks. It works much the same with smoking. It’s common for people to have a cigarette or smoke when they’re out drinking with friends, but never touch one when they’re sober. Identifying what your trigger is and trying to remove it from your daily life is a great way to stop your mind wanting it.
Another way you can fight the urge is by finding a replacement. Whenever you get that urge to have a cigarette or a vape; do some breathing exercises, or have some chewing gum. Your body will quickly associate the urges and desires for nicotine with the thing you’ve replaced.
This is one of the most common substitutes for smoking and has been used for many years. Applying a nicotine patch to your body that can still provide the body with the nicotine you desire from a cigarette. A study carried out at the VA Medical Center by Martin Hahn found the nicotine patch success rate was an outstanding 27% of patients (88 of 554) being able to quit smoking via the patch.
Smoking to Vaping
As mentioned previously in this Article, although vaping should never be seen as a direct alternative to smoking and provides much the same dangers and problems that smoking causes. Sometimes, people find it easier to start vaping rather than smoking, having the control over the amount of nicotine in their juices, gives them great control over the amount they’re putting into their body. When it comes down to it, you could remove the nicotine entirely from a vaporizer, and the person probably wouldn’t even notice. Another study of 32 patients at the VA Medical Center found that 21.8% of patients (7) successfully changed their nicotine intake method to vaporizers and fully quit smoking.
I believe this topic is incredibly hard to cover, and it can be easily misunderstood or taken the wrong way. It’s important to understand that it’s common for veterans to start smoking and by the time they become veterans and leave the military the chances are the worst long term damage would have already been done, and it’s important to find the line between what’s best for the veterans now rather than later.
The most important thing is to ensure our veterans have the best recovery they can have when returning from the force, and if this means they have to vape or smoke; then I think that is perfectly fine. After all, it does help them.