Advertisement

What is nicotine?

Nicotine is found primarily in tobacco and is an alkaloid, meaning it is a naturally occurring substance that has many effects on the body. Other alkaloid substances include cocaine, caffeine, and morphine. Nicotine is mainly a stimulant of the nervous system and works by causing other hormones to be released, creating multiple widespread changes in the body.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Nicotine is a chemical found in the leaves of the tobacco plant. When you inhale smoke from a lit cigarette, nicotine and thousands of harmful chemicals go along for the ride. Nicotine is just as addictive as narcotic drugs that folks abuse, and nicotine is the reason why it's so hard to stop smoking.

You get about 1-2 mg of nicotine each time you take a drag. It travels through the bloodstream to the brain's pleasure center. But the high is short-lived, and when the effects of nicotine wear off, the body craves more. When you take away the brain's nicotine supply, you experience withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement therapies can help people quit by giving the body lower and lower doses of nicotine without the toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke. Talk to your doctor to figure out which nicotine replacement therapy is right for you.
Nicotine is an addictive chemical found in tobacco. Nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, that is part of the brain's reward system. It also produces lasting changes in the cells of the brain that are associated with addiction.

Continue Learning about Quit Smoking

Hawaii Health Alert: Would You Know If Your Child Is Vaping?
Hawaii Health Alert: Would You Know If Your Child Is Vaping?
If you’re the parent of a teen—or even a “tween” who’s navigating middle school—you need to know about e-cigarettes. Odds are your child not only know...
Read More
How many people in the United States smoke?
Ivan A. Hernandez, MDIvan A. Hernandez, MD
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009, an estimated 46.6 million ...
More Answers
5 Ways to Overcome Cigarette Cravings
5 Ways to Overcome Cigarette Cravings5 Ways to Overcome Cigarette Cravings5 Ways to Overcome Cigarette Cravings5 Ways to Overcome Cigarette Cravings
Quitting is hard, but not impossible.
Start Slideshow
What Healthy Lifestyle Changes Are People Most Willing to Make?
What Healthy Lifestyle Changes Are People Most Willing to Make?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.