The addiction to Nicotine

Named after the tobacco plant Nicotiana tabacum (which is named after French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot de Villemain), the introduction of nicotine dates all the way back to the late 1500s.  First isolated by German chemists Posselt & Reimann in 1828 and later synthesized by A. Pictet and Crepieux in 1904, nicotine is an addictive and habit forming drug.

Found in cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco products, nicotine induces changes in the brain causing those who use products with nicotine to constantly crave it.  As it enters the body, it is quickly distributed through the bloodstream, passing through brain within 10-20 seconds after inhalation.  Generally speaking, the elimination half life of nicotine in the body is two hours; however, because people tend to smoke more than one cigarette at a time, the elimination half life can be up to eight hours.

Acting as both a stimulant and a relaxant, nicotine causes a release of glucose from the liver and epinephrine (adrenaline) from the adrenal medulla.  Subsequently, users report feeling more relaxed, sharper, calmer and more alert leaving them with a desire to experience such feelings again and again.

Ebook

Download Our FREE Psychiatry:
Redefine Ebook!

Since 2003, the Delray Center for Healing has provided exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care for mental health, eating, and substance use disorders. To learn more about our philosophy and treatment approach, download our free e-book, “Psychiatry Redefined,” written by our founder and medical director, Raul J. Rodriguez, MD.