Posts Tagged ‘addiction’

Needing

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

I gasp in joy and relief as the bottom panel of the pod finally comes free. I let go of the pliers I had been using to pry the metal panel away and grab the little bottle full of juice; my ambrosia. I squeeze the bottle, filling the tiny pod with the nicotine infused liquid. Piecing the pod back together, I shove the plastic into the device. The “dizzy” is so close, but my obstacles are not over. I take a pull from the vape, and a sour, burning taste floods my mouth. I run to the sink and spit, the vape juice still tingling on my tongue. My nose and eyes scrunch at the offensive taste, and I gulp some water.

I cough, then bring the vape back to my lips.

I went to great lengths to continue to have the “dizzy” in my life. I couldn’t let it go. I wanted that lovely feeling to stay. I didn’t want to go without it. I sank to new lows. In some places, cigarettes were easier to buy than vapes, and so, for a few weeks, I would obtain my “dizzy” through the acrid scent of smoke. Despite the nausea, the smell seeping into my hair, clothes, and room, and the slightly different “dizzy,” I was still drawn in. Turns out, this wasn’t a want. It was a need.

The “dizzy” not only drove my days; it became the only thing I looked forward to. Taking classes online, stuck in my dorm all alone, having nothing but more monotony for the foreseeable future, the “dizzy” was a reward for making it through a few hours. I wasn’t looking to my future. I could barely look forward to the next week. I knew there were cons of vaping, but in the moment, planning my next “dizzy” was often the only thing that kept me going.

Cold, dreary, lonely days at the peak of my dependence.

I knew at this point that I needed to quit. The habit was stupid expensive, and I hated spending my hard-earned money on something that made my lungs feel so weak. I also knew my family didn’t want me to be doing it. Most people find the habit annoying, and I knew it was embarrassing to want to leave my friends in order to find the “dizzy” back at my dorm or even in a bathroom stall. Still, something held me back.

A few things, actually. First of all, lots of people around me vaped. I saw so many college students around my campus with brightly colored disposable vapes. Their flavors were never super important to me personally, but thetruth.com cites an article on flavored e-cigarette use in youth and young adult users, stating that out of all 18-29 year olds who vape, 92% started with a flavor of some kind. The smoke shop across the street from my campus doesn’t I.D., and they sell pricey disposables to fiending college kids. As one of those students, I would frequently find myself stopping by to pick up a new device, dropping a ridiculous amount of money for something that would maybe last me five days. No one else around me was quitting. Everyone was vaping, and no one else seemed to genuinely want to stop. The lack of solidarity in the idea of quitting scared me, and so I stayed on the fence. 

My own fear that I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t strong enough to destroy this addiction, also kept me anchored in my nicotine usage. I knew that quitting would be hard. I knew from the times when I didn’t have a vape or access to any nicotine how awful it felt to be without it. On thetruth.com, a study exploring changes in mental health after quitting smoking is referenced: “Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can feel like depression, anxiety, and irritability.” This is why so many people try to quit and fail. They give into the cravings when the quit becomes unbearable. 

I didn’t want to fail, so I didn’t want to try.


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By Sophie Rounds

Sophie Rounds is a rising junior at Loyola University Chicago, double majoring in creative writing and Spanish. She loves to read and wishes she were a better cook. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys singing in several choirs at her university and thrifting with her friends.


For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Wanting

Friday, June 24th, 2022

I close and lock the stall door. I dig through my purse until my fingers find the piece of plastic they are yearning for. I bring it to my lips without a thought. I could have walked back to my dorm after my class before experiencing the “dizzy,” but I want it now. I stand in the stall, holding my phone in one hand and the vape in the other, waiting in deep anticipation for the shivers to begin. In a sick twist of fate, the vape slips from my hand, bouncing off the bathroom floor and out of the stall. There is silence as I freeze, watching the shadows of girls at the sinks. I frantically collect my purse from the hook and swing the door open. “Is this…someone’s?” The girl is holding the pink disposable in a paper towel. I should just leave it. She’s uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable. “It’s mine.” I grab the piece and shove it in my pocket, my face hot. I don’t thank her. I wash my hands and leave, my stomach curdling and my eyes on the floor. Why didn’t I just wait until I got home? The “dizzy” had been ruined and my pride tarnished. I pat my pocket as I walk, ensuring the piece is safe.

There was a time when I didn’t consider my yearning for nicotine an addiction. It was just something I liked, something I craved, something that was fun. It didn’t feel unreasonable to pool together change from around my room to buy a vape, or to drive a mile or two out of the way to go to a location that didn’t I.D. It was in these moments, like the one in the restroom, that my ideology started to shift. The feeling of dependency becomes pronounced when there are outsiders watching the struggle. It’s the opposite of solidarity; the others don’t understand why I’m standing in the bathroom with this piece of plastic. There is almost a mirror effect, in which one can see their shortcomings reflected in the eyes of another.

Photo from a gas station that did I.D., but we were only there for a fun photoshoot, not to restock. My vape was in my pocket.

Surrounded by other vaping college kids, I find it intriguing that so many of them are willing to share. Of course, among familiar faces, there is always the willingness to help a fiending friend. But in groups of total strangers, at parties or other functions, people would ask for a hit from someone’s vape, and they would oblige. This isn’t necessarily universal, but that solidarity resurfaced again in the sharing of nicotine. Everyone who is addicted to nicotine knows how it feels to be without it. The dependence exists in all of us, and many individuals are willing to allow the less fortunate to obtain a “dizzy” when they ask. There is no mirror reflecting the discomfort of the situation, no viewer highlighting the way the asking is almost begging.

The craving for the “dizzy” drove my days. The experience was almost sacred, this moment alone with my head buzzing and my body half-floating. I would plan my schedule around when I could find a private place to hit my vape, and until that time, it remained tucked away. I knew it took about two and a half hours for the nicotine to leave my system and my body to reset, closer to three for a more intense “dizzy,” and so I would patiently wait. It gave me a feeling of control, of power over my nicotine usage. I had self-control. I didn’t need nicotine. I just wanted it.

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg looks into the formation of habits within the brain. In an MIT experiment from the early 1990s, researchers placed rats into a maze with a piece of chocolate at one end. After going through the maze repeatedly for a week, researchers found that the rats’ brains were less active while completing the maze, as they had formed a habit of completing the maze in a certain way in order to find the reward–chocolate. “This process,” Duhigg writes, “–in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine–is known as ‘chunking,’ and it’s at the root of how habits are formed.” This research also posited the habit loop, a three-step process which occurs within our brains: cue, routine, reward. Duhigg continues, “When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.” Once a cue or a trigger of some kind takes place, the brain wants to divert focus to other tasks and allow the routine to occur.

The habit loop can be helpful, because if you can control the cues and rewards in play, you can create new habits. It can be unhelpful, however, when cues and triggers are constant. Everywhere. 

While perhaps I did not need nicotine, it sure was hard to ignore.


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By Sophie Rounds

Sophie Rounds is a rising junior at Loyola University Chicago, double majoring in creative writing and Spanish. She loves to read and wishes she were a better cook. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys singing in several choirs at her university and thrifting with her friends.


For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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The Dizzy

Saturday, June 18th, 2022

I breathe in the rush of chemicals, their harshness hitting the back of my throat in an almost nauseating gasp of relief. Another pull and the feeling begins, somewhere in my esophagus at first. The vibrating sensation spreads into my chest and limbs, then my arms and fingers, extending to my legs and toes. A chill washes over me, and I bring the device back to my lips, craving more of this feeling. Again, the vapor spills into my lungs, making my throat squeeze but allowing the rest of my body to relax. My vision is different as I try to continue reading the post on my glowing phone screen, and I realize that my eyes are shaking. I put the phone down and watch my ceiling, eyes unfocused. A final hit, and I sigh, a euphoria of sorts settling over me as I lean back against my bed, fully appreciating the morning “dizzy.”

Most would call it a buzz, but since the day I tried my friend’s vape, I have referred to the experience as the “dizzy.” Having watched the USB-like piece become a permanent fixture in their hand over the course of several months, I asked them what it felt like. I was curious; it seemed like something they enjoyed, plus they could make cool shapes with the smoke. I had the urge to try it. I asked if they would let me. It was in my hand within a second.

Photo taken during the week of my discovery of the “dizzy.” A time of brightness, the feel of a ray of sun.

That first try was exciting, but it wasn’t what I had expected. The vapor made my throat ache and close, and I think I coughed quite a bit. But, after a moment of catching my breath and some coaching from my friend, I tried again. And again. The vapor was harsh and didn’t taste great, but the world began to swirl around me as the vibrations spread through my chest, into my hands and head. I felt like I had just gotten off of the teacups at DisneyWorld or had just twirled myself on a swing at the playground until I couldn’t see straight. 

I think I smiled. I think I laughed. After noting the dizzying effect the device had on me, the experience of hitting a vape was from that point forward referred to as a “dizzy.” 

In that first week or two, I told my friend not to let me hit it while I was driving. I was concerned that the intensity of the “dizzy” would distract me from the road, that my vibrating eyes would keep me from seeing straight. When I wasn’t driving, however, I was able to obtain the lovely “dizzy,” which I was starting to crave more and more often. The feeling was fun, something that I had never experienced before, had found in nothing else. Perhaps it could be compared to riding a roller coaster, with the tumbling of your stomach and the pounding of adrenaline through your veins. The bodily high that makes your heart race and your head swim, your breath shaky but your brain alive.

 I began asking to borrow my friend’s disposable more and more often, until I finally wanted my own. A device I could have at home when my friend wasn’t around to provide the “dizzy.” I found a gas station that didn’t ask for my I.D., and the rest is history.

Once I began vaping nicotine, I saw it everywhere. I hadn’t really thought much about it prior, even though my high school principal had been adamant about keeping students from vaping in the restrooms. Once I had experienced the beauty of the “dizzy,” I not only saw cigarettes and vapes all over, but I also gained new insight into why people have and continue to indulge in what some might call a vice. My judgment of smokers dipped. Despite my continued dislike for the scent of cigarette smoke, I found myself understanding why they were doing it. It was a type of solidarity, accepting others’ habits to avoid personal hypocrisy, a mutual understanding that the feeling cigarettes and vapes provide is just so lovely.

So lovely.


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By Sophie Rounds

Sophie Rounds is a rising junior at Loyola University Chicago, double majoring in creative writing and Spanish. She loves to read and wishes she were a better cook. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys singing in several choirs at her university and thrifting with her friends.


For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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