Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine Addiction Facts and Information

Nicotine and smoking has directly contributed to 20% of death in the United States. Due to this high statistic, the FDA classified nicotine as a drug. The American Heart Association says that nicotine addiction has shown to be one of the hardest addictions to break. Depending on the cigarette, it can contain 1-3 milligrams of nicotine. Constant advertisements and commercials educate the public about the addictive and harmful habit, but more than 85% of those trying to quit end up relapsing within a week.


Nicotine definitely affects the brain when smoked, immediately releasing chemical messengers such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Nicotine stimulates nerve transmission, which can appear as enhanced concentration, memory increase, enhanced alertness, pain reduction, reduced anxiety, and enhanced alertness. This reaction is very similar to the way other drugs alter the mind. Inhaling a cigarette distributes the nicotine, producing results within seven seconds. The effects generated are brief causing smokers to continue use.

The human body contains nicotinic receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems that are opened by nicotine. When nicotinic receptors respond differently to nicotine concentrations. These partake in two major neurotransmissions, wiring transmission, which releases high concentrations of neurotransmitters, and volume transmission, which diffuses neurotransmitters through extra-cellular channels.


Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to, irritability, cravings, depression, anxiety, cognitive and attention deficits, increased appetite, and sleep difficulties. These symptoms can appear within a few hours after the last cigarette, which leads to another cigarette. Within the first couple of days, symptoms are constant, perhaps even lasting for months. Alongside the actual nicotine withdrawal symptoms, the behavioral aspects associated with smoking are difficult to leave behind. The touch, smell, action, and ritual of obtaining, lighting and smoking the cigarette are all associated with nicotine withdrawal and can definitely partake in a relapse. Nicotine replacements are available such as patches, gum, and electronic cigarettes that may aid in buffering withdrawal symptoms. Lastly, behavioral therapy is available to help the smoker identify triggers and help with the cravings to hopefully overpower and overcome them in its entirety.