According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nicotine use and dependency have increased across the United States in recent years. This is often attributed to the use of vapes, tobacco and other products. If you choose to use nicotine, here are a few things to know.
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical compound naturally found in the tobacco plant. Like other addictive substances, nicotine use can cause most people to experience physical and psychological dependency.
There are a wide variety of products that can contain nicotine, including:
All tobacco products contain nicotine. This includes smoking products like cigars, cigarettes and hookah, as well as smokeless products like dip and snuff. In addition to nicotine, these products often contain other harmful additives, including carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds).
Vape pens, e-cigarettes, tank systems and mods
Almost all vapes and e-cigarettes contain nicotine, as well as flavoring and other potentially harmful additives. It’s important to know that some vape labels don't fully disclose their nicotine content, and some liquids that are marketed as 0% nicotine have been found to contain the drug.
Nicotine pouches have been introduced as an alternative to dip and snuff to remove the tobacco while keeping the nicotine. Common brands include Zyn, On! and Velo.
Nicotine can have a variety of effects on your body, mind and overall health.
Nicotine works by temporarily releasing endorphines and dopamine (feel-good chemicals) into your body. While these neurotransmitters are known to reduce stress and pain, the effects can wear off quickly. For this reason, many people get caught in a cycle of continuously using nicotine in order to keep up the effects. Over time, you may find that you need higher and higher doses of nicotine as your tolerance increases, which can make it even harder to quit.
Frequently using nicotine in this way, especially over long periods of time, can start to impact brain function. These changes can include increased stress, impacts on learning and memory, difficulty with impulse control, addiction and symptoms of withdrawal. Negative impacts from nicotine are especially prevelant in young adults under the age of 25, because the brain has not fully developed yet.
It’s also important to know that consuming too much nicotine at one time can lead to nicotine poisoning or overdose. Signs of poisoning and overdose include things like nausea, passing out, light-headedness and seizures.
Because nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, it is easy for people to become addicted or dependent on the drug, both physically and mentally. When someone stops using nicotine products, they may experience withdrawal symptoms that can make it more difficult to quit.
Some common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:
As your body and mind adjust to not having nicotine readily available, symptoms of withdrawal will subside.
If you’re thinking about quitting, are unsure about quitting or have already quit nicotine, there are resources available for students, staff and faculty.