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Why is nicotine such a small part of the addiction?


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#1 ImmortalSoFar

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 08:22 AM

If cigarette addiction were simply about nicotine then using gum, patches, vapes or any other source would be indistinguishable from smoking and be just as addictive. Logical, yes? But as any smoker will tell you, they're not. Giving up the substitutes is far, far easier than cigarettes and using them helps the symptoms by, I'd estimate at most, 5%. When I once tried with patches, I found it only marginally better than nothing while costing the same as a pack of smokes and guzzling gum constantly on the edge of an overdose still didn't remove the cravings.

 

So if it's not nicotine, what is it? What's in cigarettes that makes smoking them so much more than a nicotine delivery system?



#2 Blacky

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 08:41 AM

There could be more addictive substances in tobacco other than just Nicotine

 

http://www.cancer.or...bacco-addictive

 

Researchers are also looking at other chemicals in tobacco that make it harder to quit. In the brains of animals, tobacco smoke causes chemical changes that are not fully explained by the effects of nicotine.

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#3 Helena

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 09:21 AM

That's because it's not simply about nicotine. It's about how hard the nicotine hits your brain because you inhale it. Think about coca farmers who suck on coca leaves throughout the day. They get mild stimulation that's not dissimilar to drinking a cup of coffee, and can take it or leave it. Compare that to smoking crack. Why is crack so much more addictive than sucking on a coca leaf? One is inhaled, one is absorbed through the skin. Nicotine patches and other NRT are absorbed, slowly, in measured doses, through the skin, and do not create what is called the "bolus effect." It's because of that bolus of nicotine hitting our brains fast and hard that we get so immensely dependent on nicotine, which mimics an important neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Our brains actually have to grow millions of new receptor sites when we first get physically dependent on the drug, in order to handle the hard, fast hits of the acetylcholine mimic. It's a good thing, too, or we would have died of nicotine poisoning.

 

We never lose those millions of extra receptor sites. They are a permanent brain change. After about a year of zero inhaled hits of nicotine, the sites have gone dormant. Take heart though, the most dramatic changes happen toward the beginning of a quit!

 

One hit off a cigarette, cigar, nicotine-loaded vaporizer, or any other device we can dream up to deliver inhaled hits of nicotine will flood these receptor sites again and activate them, setting off the craving and withdrawal cycle all over again. It doesn't matter whether you've been 50 minutes or 50 years clean, if your brain is flooded, it has to respond. Look at what happens to the brain after just one inhaled hit off a cigarette:

 

receptors.jpg

 

The blue areas show where a tracer has been replaced by nicotine. More on these scans here: http://www.drugabuse...garette-craving

 

NRT works by providing a low level of nicotine in the body to help with withdrawal symptoms. As I said above, it does not create the bolus effect in the brain and does not flood the receptor sites with hard, fast hits of the drug. It's like sucking on a coca leaf to help you deal with withdrawal symptoms from smoking crack. You will still be going through major withdrawal on NRT, it just isn't the 100% withdrawal of cold turkey. Also, your receptor sites will be heading toward dormancy as long as you do not inhale even one hit of nicotine.

 

There's some good information here about nicotine and how it works in the body, and why inhaled nicotine, especially, is so addictive: http://www.pbs.org/w...e/nicotine.html


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#4 Kumar

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 10:06 AM

I don't know about others, but I never liked to smoke in the dark, I had to see the smoke because seeing it was part of the pleasure. I hate chewing gum of any kind, so I would never get any pleasure using that as a substitute.

 

And the bolus effect of the first drag, I suppose, the one that Helena writes about.


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#5 hermine

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 12:05 PM

That's because it's not simply about nicotine. It's about how hard the nicotine hits your brain because you inhale it. Think about coca farmers who suck on coca leaves throughout the day. They get mild stimulation that's not dissimilar to drinking a cup of coffee, and can take it or leave it. Compare that to smoking crack. Why is crack so much more addictive than sucking on a coca leaf? One is inhaled, one is absorbed through the skin. Nicotine patches and other NRT are absorbed, slowly, in measured doses, through the skin, and do not create what is called the "bolus effect." It's because of that bolus of nicotine hitting our brains fast and hard that we get so immensely dependent on nicotine, which mimics an important neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Our brains actually have to grow millions of new receptor sites when we first get physically dependent on the drug, in order to handle the hard, fast hits of the acetylcholine mimic. It's a good thing, too, or we would have died of nicotine poisoning.

 

We never lose those millions of extra receptor sites. They are a permanent brain change. After about a year of zero inhaled hits of nicotine, the sites have gone dormant. Take heart though, the most dramatic changes happen toward the beginning of a quit!

 

One hit off a cigarette, cigar, nicotine-loaded vaporizer, or any other device we can dream up to deliver inhaled hits of nicotine will flood these receptor sites again and activate them, setting off the craving and withdrawal cycle all over again. It doesn't matter whether you've been 50 minutes or 50 years clean, if your brain is flooded, it has to respond. Look at what happens to the brain after just one inhaled hit off a cigarette:

 

receptors.jpg

 

The blue areas show where a tracer has been replaced by nicotine. More on these scans here: http://www.drugabuse...garette-craving

 

NRT works by providing a low level of nicotine in the body to help with withdrawal symptoms. As I said above, it does not create the bolus effect in the brain and does not flood the receptor sites with hard, fast hits of the drug. It's like sucking on a coca leaf to help you deal with withdrawal symptoms from smoking crack. You will still be going through major withdrawal on NRT, it just isn't the 100% withdrawal of cold turkey. Also, your receptor sites will be heading toward dormancy as long as you do not inhale even one hit of nicotine.

 

There's some good information here about nicotine and how it works in the body, and why inhaled nicotine, especially, is so addictive: http://www.pbs.org/w...e/nicotine.html

 

This is a marvellous post, Helena, you could post this as a new thread on the Main Board. Thanks for the info!


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#6 Samhain

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Posted 30 June 2015 - 09:01 PM

I second hermine.  That's some great info, especially the brain scans.  Just 3 puffs makes THAT much of an impact? 

 

 

N.O.P.E., let alone 3!


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#7 NewHope

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 09:28 PM

Fantastic post hermine! Great information so well presented. Thank you! I would like to add that in my reading about nicotine addiction I have learned some disturbing facts. Put simply.... Because so many of our internal systems become addicted to changes made over the years by inhaling nicotine, it takes time for our bodies to heal. Sure the nicotine may be out of our systems in 3-5 days but the changes it has affected within our bodies & brain are not gone in 3-5 days. It takes approximately a year to feel "really good" but people report feeling "better" around 6 months. These changes in our brain & major organ function is what causes withdrawal symptoms, cravings, need for change in medications....some people even experience changes in thyroid function. Little did we know what we were doing when we started to smoke. Those "feel good" endorphins kicked in and here we are today finding a new way to live without the killing sticks. Cold Turkey or NRT....we must stop smoking.
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#8 Reisen

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 09:52 AM

Smoking is a lot about habit and conditioning. You inadvertently "learned" smoking while performing certain tasks. These may include drinking coffee, relaxing on the veranda, walking your dog, having a small break outside your office building, etc. pp.

 

The initial craving is long gone, while you're still feeling the "hole" the action of smoking filled. I know someone reaching into his pocket for a pack and lighter, five years after his quit. He was deep sea fishing, and hasn't been fishing since before he quit. The association of "fishing + smoking" was so strong, it lingered in his brain for that many years.

 

A big part of quitting, is "un-learning" to smoke in situations that come up. I had to do this, otherwise my quit wouldn't be successful. The one-year anniversary is kinda important, because that's revisiting pretty much all situations that could come up that would incline you to smoke. Birthdays, parties, dates of death...

 

Smoking is usually not just feeding an addiction, it becomes part of your life. Ripping that out of a daily routine, etc. certainly isn't easy.

 

I think there's way to little focus on these things, though. Things like gum or patches suggest it's all about the nicotine and nothing else. I have never heard of it being that simple - ever.


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#9 Lucy1

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 10:58 PM

>>Things like gum or patches suggest it's all about the nicotine and nothing else.<<

 

Oh I disagree!  NRT helps alleviate / reduce the intensity of the nicotine aspect precisely so that the quitter can face triggers and change habits, unlearn what had long ago become automatic and thoughtless - lighting up because of a, b, or c.  That's how it helped me.

 

Lucy


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#10 marciem

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 01:44 AM

>>Things like gum or patches suggest it's all about the nicotine and nothing else.<<

 

Oh I disagree!  NRT helps alleviate / reduce the intensity of the nicotine aspect precisely so that the quitter can face triggers and change habits, unlearn what had long ago become automatic and thoughtless - lighting up because of a, b, or c.  That's how it helped me.

 

Lucy

While I found most of Reisen's post spot-on, I too disagree with that particular statement.  I only used patches for a short while, but they did help me to be able to concentrate on changing my behaviors/habits, i.e. "unlearn to smoke" , without the distraction of intense physical cravings.

 

Smoking cessation is way more complicated than just stopping smoking :)  .  NRT may not be for everyone, but for those afraid to jump right in, the products can be valuable "floaties" until you learn to swim unaided.


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#11 hermine

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Posted 21 September 2015 - 02:14 PM

If cigarette addiction were simply about nicotine then using gum, patches, vapes or any other source would be indistinguishable from smoking and be just as addictive. Logical, yes? But as any smoker will tell you, they're not. Giving up the substitutes is far, far easier than cigarettes and using them helps the symptoms by, I'd estimate at most, 5%. When I once tried with patches, I found it only marginally better than nothing while costing the same as a pack of smokes and guzzling gum constantly on the edge of an overdose still didn't remove the cravings.

 

So if it's not nicotine, what is it? What's in cigarettes that makes smoking them so much more than a nicotine delivery system?

 

ISF, are you still around?

 

How is your quit going?


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Posted 24 September 2015 - 12:21 AM

Hmmm...interesting. I wonder why so many become addicted to other types of nicotine delivery and NRT? I never thought for a moment I was addicted to smoke. Anyway...glad to be free!

Ciao!
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#13 beatenstar

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 09:20 AM

Its not only nicotine tey are other substances that create dependancy and the problem its like a habit because you learn to put a cigarete in mouth


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#14 Ramcon1

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 08:53 PM

Here is some interesting news for you.  For most people, it's not nicotine.  In fact, to never smokers, it is nearly impossible to get addicted to pure nicotine in any form, including vaping.  There is a really good Scientific American article about how nicotine is being investigated as a viable drug for certain conditions.

 

As Blacky pointed out, tobacco contains many, many other things, AND this is key, burning it chemically alters the nicotine into other nicotine compounds that are as addictive as all heck!

 

I am not sure if NRT helps you if that will make your life easier or harder.  For me, I get all the negatives (gastric distress, wild stimulation!) and none of the positives, so it was cold turkey for me.  I am at 42 days and miserable, but hanging in there on sheer guts.

 

Good luck,

 

Ramcon1



#15 avian3

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 03:02 AM

Here is some interesting news for you.  For most people, it's not nicotine.  In fact, to never smokers, it is nearly impossible to get addicted to pure nicotine in any form, including vaping.  There is a really good Scientific American article about how nicotine is being investigated as a viable drug for certain conditions.

 

As Blacky pointed out, tobacco contains many, many other things, AND this is key, burning it chemically alters the nicotine into other nicotine compounds that are as addictive as all heck!

 

I am not sure if NRT helps you if that will make your life easier or harder.  For me, I get all the negatives (gastric distress, wild stimulation!) and none of the positives, so it was cold turkey for me.  I am at 42 days and miserable, but hanging in there on sheer guts.

 

Good luck,

 

Ramcon1

 

Here is some interesting news for you.  For most people, it's not nicotine.  In fact, to never smokers, it is nearly impossible to get addicted to pure nicotine in any form, including vaping.  There is a really good Scientific American article about how nicotine is being investigated as a viable drug for certain conditions.

 

I am getting a little tired of you putting out this BS when people here are trying to overcome their addiction to Nicotine. You are giving out unfounded information and it is not appreciated on this forum.

 

You are obviously no expert on nicotine addiction and I would appreciate if you keep you conspiracy theories and the subject about violent diarrhea to possibly a different forum, where they have an interest in discussing those subjects.

 

If you continue, your posts will be moved to pointless and if you start with even more bizarre advice and not focus directly on your quit and accept advice from the more knowledgeable about the the basic way to quit smoking, then you may have to leave the board altogether.


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#16 Chris4507

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 12:42 PM

My brother quit smoking cold turkey and was absolutely miserable for a good month. I have 18 days with the patch and while it is still not easy, I am easily able to function and go about my daily activities without the horrible effects of withdrawal. I have COPD and the most important part is not breathing in smoke. My breathing has improved dramatically, my skin looks amazing and I haven't smoked.
I am able to get over the attachment to activities first and will slowly cut down on the nicotine. Without the patch, i definitely would smoke again. So, I am saying take all the help you can get. Whatever stops you from smoking is a good thong
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#17 jordan7

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:34 PM

Welcome, Chris, and congratulations on 18 days!  You may want to introduce yourself on the main board where more people will see your posts, as this is an old thread in a section that doesn't get as much traffic.  


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#18 Smokefreetoday

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 01:02 PM

Welcome Chris 4507!  You are doing great!  18 days quit is an excellent start!  Smoking is not an option.  

 

Yes do come over to the main board where all the activity is and also the daily nope pledge which is an excellent routine to keep us on track.


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#19 Opah

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 04:55 PM


I am getting a little tired of you putting out this BS when people here are trying to overcome their addiction to Nicotine. You are giving out unfounded information and it is not appreciated on this forum.
 
You are obviously no expert on nicotine addiction and I would appreciate if you keep you conspiracy theories and the subject about violent diarrhea to possibly a different forum, where they have an interest in discussing those subjects.
 
If you continue, your posts will be moved to pointless and if you start with even more bizarre advice and not focus directly on your quit and accept advice from the more knowledgeable about the the basic way to quit smoking, then you may have to leave the board altogether.

I am getting a little tired of you putting out this BS when people here are trying to overcome their addiction to Nicotine. You are giving out unfounded information and it is not appreciated on this forum.
 
You are obviously no expert on nicotine addiction and I would appreciate if you keep you conspiracy theories and the subject about violent diarrhea to possibly a different forum, where they have an interest in discussing those subjects.
 
If you continue, your posts will be moved to pointless and if you start with even more bizarre advice and not focus directly on your quit and accept advice from the more knowledgeable about the the basic way to quit smoking, then you may have to leave the board altogether.


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#20 avian3

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 05:34 PM

Mellow Yellow got her feathers ruffled, Good Girl!! that is what a good administrator does!
learning more and more about this community and am being impreesed the farther I get in.

I am a member first and not a long time administrator by choice. I can speak however I choose. You choosing to start trouble is a different story.  ;)  :)


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