Nicotine is perhaps a more commonly occurring substance than we think. It is an addictive colorless, oily liquid that turns brown with exposure to oxygen or light. It is a naturally occurring toxic, nitrogen based alkaloid chemical akin to and just as potentially dangerous in high doses as morphine strychnine and ephedrine that exists naturally in our world.
It is found in several different yet surprisingly common species of plants in the nightshade family, including, all varieties of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. However, it is most notably found in tobacco plants.
Most people know perhaps the most prominent characteristic are its highly addictive qualities — making smoking tobacco, unfortunately, a very hard habit to break. Noted tobacco researcher, M.A.H. Russell once wrote, “There is little doubt that if it were not for the nicotine in tobacco smoke, people would be little more inclined to smoke than they are to blow bubbles or to light sparklers.”
That being said, it is not the nicotine itself that is causing the danger in smoking, it is the 4000 other known carcinogens that exist in the tobacco smoke itself. While it contributes to a significant portion of the addiction, it certainly does not contain cancer causing substances that make cigarettes so fatally dangerous. That is why many who choose to use replacement therapies to help them quit, often administer the nicotine in other ways.
Nicotine affects the central nervous system and It’s actual physical response to the body is similar to that of caffeine. Physical effects of using nicotine can include a raise in heart rate, heart stroke volume and heart oxygen consumption rate. Other effects include increased alertness, euphoria, and a sensation of being relaxed. Users also say it helps to maintain concentration, reduce general anxiety, relieve minor pain, even helping with weight control.
Nicotine is both a sedative and a stimulant. When you are exposed to it in any form, you are likely to experience a little jolt of energy, or kick, partly due to the it’s ability to release adrenaline in your body.
Indirectly, it also affects you by causing dopamine to be released in the pleasure and motivation areas of the brain. With increased levels of dopamine, many users find higher levels of contentment as a result. It’s use also results in increased levels of beta-endorphin adding to the feeling of happiness. These reasons may be why so many users also report a calming sensation when they use, helping them to control and reduce stress and anxiety.
Nicotine also appears to improve memory and concentration. Experts say that this is a result of an increase in acetylcholine and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine also increases the sensation of being alert. For instance, one study even showed that those with the substance in their system will type about 5% faster than those without.
Most users find that, as with many altering substances, their tolerance level changes over time. As you have more and more, you may find yourself requiring higher doses just to enjoy the same effects you had when you began using. Even on a smaller scale, most users find that the first cigarette of the day is the best. That is because during the day the more you use, the less effect it has on you, and therefore, the more you need to get the “buzz” you are craving.
As many who have quit or attempted to stop smoking know, it is extremely difficult to quit smoking. In part due to the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal that a user can and will most likely experience when they stopped using tobacco altogether.
Potential symptoms of withdrawal include a headache, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, anxiety and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms of withdrawal are strong and difficult to deal with, which is why many opt for and find success with some form of replacement therapy when they are trying to quit smoking.