Nicotine is a stimulant, and the feeling of pleasure that a smoker gets from smoking is partly due to nicotine. It usually takes about 30 minutes before the body feels nicotine’s effects.
People who smoke may feel relaxed and content after smoking. Smokers also can experience increased alertness and concentration. These feelings may be caused by the nicotine in cigarettes or by other factors, such as knowing that they will soon have a cigarette. Although people who smoke say they feel relaxed after smoking, research shows that the heart rate actually increases and blood pressure may go up slightly. Nicotine causes the blood vessels to narrow, which can increase blood pressure.
Nicotine binds with receptors in the brain and throughout the body to produce different effects. The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, and glucose levels in the bloodstream.
Nicotine also increases levels of a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine. This effect causes feelings of pleasure (a “rush”) when nicotine reaches the brain, which makes people want to use tobacco products again and again to try to get that same effect.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is the name given to a range of products that are designed to help people who are having trouble stopping smoking. They work by providing small, controlled amounts of nicotine to ease cravings and withdrawal.
No matter which NRT you use, it is important to note that this is not a magic solution. It is still necessary to make changes in daily routine and break the associations that have built up between smoking and certain times of day, or situations.
How does NRT work?
The idea behind NRT is that by giving the body a controlled dose of nicotine, it will help with cravings and withdrawal symptoms without the other harmful effects of tobacco. This means that instead of getting nicotine from smoking, your body gets it from another source.
Nicotine replacement products come in several different forms – patches, lozenges, gum and inhalators (inhalers). You can easily find them in a vape shop.
The nicotine patch mimics the release of nicotine into your blood stream as you would get from a cigarette. You wear one patch at a time for 16-24 hours per day over a period of two to three months. You cut down gradually on how many patches you use each day until you no longer need one at all.
In addition to relieving withdrawal symptoms, nicotine replacement therapies help smokers learn how to live without cigarettes by removing some of the physical components of addiction.
Two types of NRTs are available over-the-counter: the patch and gum or lozenge. The patch provides a steady supply of nicotine throughout the day while gum or lozenge gives smokers a way to get extra doses when they feel the urge to smoke.
A prescription is required for other forms of NRT. These include inhalers and nasal sprays. These give smokers more control over their dosage because they provide bursts of nicotine when needed most.