Nicotine is the ingredient that makes cigarettes addictive. It is what causes you to crave cigarettes, and is the number one reason why people become addicted to smoking.
When you smoke a cigarette, nicotine increases a chemical in the brain in the pleasure centre. This also causes the brain to crave nicotine.4,5
Nicotine only lasts about 2 hours in the body, and then starts to drop. Smokers have frequent cigarette cravings throughout the day so that the level of nicotine does not drop too low. If they can’t smoke and nicotine levels drop, a person will normally have withdrawal symptoms such as: irritability, anxiousness, stress, coughing up phlegm, weight gain, difficulty concentrating and trouble sleeping.4,5
Did You Know?
Studies have shown that nicotine is just as addictive as cocaine!5
If nicotine causes addiction, why would it be used as an ingredient to help you quit smoking?
When you smoke a cigarette, nicotine enters into your lungs and can reach your brain in only 7 seconds! This makes nicotine very addictive because it causes a surge of nicotine in the pleasure centre of the brain.4,5
In contrast, when you use a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as the patch or gum, the nicotine enters into your body slowly over a period of time. When you use NRT, nicotine slowly enters your body and does not reach the very high levels seen when you smoke a cigarette. Decades of research have shown that it is virtually impossible to become addicted to the patch, gum or other NRT medications.4,5
NRT works by helping to prevent withdrawal symptoms. It gives your body some of the nicotine it would normally get from smoking cigarettes, but without the other dangerous ingredients found in cigarette smoke.