Nicotine addiction: how long does it take to get addicted to nicotine

Although nicotine has a calming effect on the body, it is also a substance that causes dependence. Nicotine addiction is in fact the most prevalent form of addiction across the world. The addiction intensity of nicotine is equivalent to harsher drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Many people are switching from smoking cigarettes to vaping for a healthier lifestyle, as cigarettes contain many other harmful additives that are not found in vape juice. Others are looking to vape for enjoyment. However, many users are uncertain about the addictive qualities of nicotine, especially if they only want to vape occasionally.

Why nicotine is addictive

When you are smoking, nicotine will reach the brain within ten seconds. At first use, nicotine can improve mood and concentration, decrease stress and anger, relax muscles, and reduce appetite. With regular doses of nicotine, changes in the brain become prevalent and withdrawal symptoms appear when going without it. These withdrawal symptoms go away once the user consumes nicotine again, reinforcing the habit of smoking.


How does the body become so dependent on nicotine?

Essentially, the cycle of avoiding withdrawal symptoms by continuing to consume nicotine causes most users to become dependent on the substance. The chemical dopamine is released and makes users feel good, reinforcing the habit of smoking in order to avoid withdrawal and continue the release of the feel-good chemical. Since the chemical release of dopamine when smoking or vaping is faster than most other drugs, this can quickly become a habit.

Over a period of time, the nicotine receptors in the brain start to increase, and so it takes more nicotine to produce the feel-good response. The more nicotine delivered to your system, the greater the effect will be. This is why most people increase the amount of cigarettes they smoke as they become used to the usual amount of nicotine they consumed at first. As you build up your nicotine tolerance, you will need more nicotine to feel its effect.

As the body builds up tolerance, people become used to the side effects caused by nicotine and mostly focuses on the positive effects. Nicotine still disrupts the natural balance within your body, so although you might feel the pleasurable effects, your body will still suffer from the negative effects.

Initial side effects of smoking may include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Skin irritation

These side effects will become less noticeable the more you smoke, but will also give way for more intense side effects to become present in your internal organs. Although you might not notice these more severe effects instantly, your body will still undergo these changes, and people often only notice them once the issue is so severe that it has caused permanent damage or health risks.

Nicotine psychological changes

Addiction to smoking can start within a few days with just a few cigarettes. Within a week, the body will become used to the effects of nicotine and cravings can start to kick in.

Once smoking becomes a habit, you may feel that your body only functions normally once you have smoked. It is easy to start connecting smoking to your daily routine. These can become triggers, making it difficult to go without smoking. Feelings of relaxation, reduction of stress, and better focus start to feel automatic which makes it difficult to realise these changes, making nicotine users become psychologically dependent on the substance.

Some psychological effects of nicotine include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Heightened mood
  • Increased alertness
  • Temporary anxiety relief
  • Stress reduction

Once the user does not consume nicotine as frequently as they are used to, the opposite effect is induced. This increases the craving to smoke in an attempt to reduce these negative effects. Smoking may relieve these withdrawal symptoms, but it does not reduce the cause of anxiety and stress, which can lead to smoking more frequently. 

Smoking can also encourage the brain to suppress its natural dopamine production mechanism. This results in a long term decrease in dopamine production, leading people to smoke even more. People with depression can also feel the side effects of quitting smoking more severely.


Cigarette nicotine vs vape nicotine – is there a difference?

There are some definitive differences between nicotine consumption via cigarettes and consumption via vaping. Some key differences include:

  • Harmful additives found in cigarettes, such as tar, are not present in vape juice
  • You can choose the nicotine strength of your vape juice
  • Vape juice comes in a variety of different flavours
  • Cigarettes involve burning tobacco which releases harmful chemicals, whereas vaping nicotine vaporises liquid – eliminating the production of harmful chemicals
  • Vaping is a generally safer option to get your dose of nicotine than smoking cigarettes as the toxins produced by smoking will start leaving your system once you switch over to vaping

There is also the option to buy vape juices with 0% nicotine. This means that you can enjoy your vaping experience without having to worry about the amount of nicotine you are consuming. This option is perfect for those who vape on social occasions or enjoy the flavours.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that can establish side effects of addiction within as little as a week. If you have been a smoker for many years, vaping is a good option for you regarding its health benefits over cigarettes

You can also start vaping using higher nicotine strength and gradually go down to a lower nicotine percentage, which will also improve health. If you are afraid of getting addicted to nicotine, you can always opt for 0% nicotine juices and still enjoy the vaping experience.

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