Among many ways to quit smoking, we have a little something called Nicorette. It is the name of a type of gum in Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Nicorette works as a weaker source of nicotine to replace a rather powerful and directed one, tobacco. Smokers undergoing Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT for short) are advised to stop using the gum after 12 weeks of replacement. However, since there is nicotine in it, are we at risk of addiction?
The desire of nicotine
We all know what nicotine is. It is a strongly addictive drug found mostly in tobacco, which is why people who smoke find it hard to stop smoking. Nicotine stimulates the brain pleasure pathway by increasing the level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in charge of making us feel good. Via smoking, within the first few seconds, nicotine move to the brain causing this biochemistry change. Imagine, the feeling you get when accomplishing something important like winning a race, attaining an achievement, or simply enjoy your favorite meals after a long and tiring day, all of these regulates the dopamine level, thus we have pleasure. Nicotine works similarly. However, a few minutes after inhaling, smokers will want another puff immediately. Frequent uses later cause tolerance that means you need a stronger dose of nicotine to create the similarly initial feeling. Hence, we have addiction.
Nicorette contains nicotine used for medical purpose only. In this case, it’s smoking cessation. The amount of nicotine in one piece of Nicorette is lesser than in a cigarette, about one-third to one-half. Normally, using the gum satisfies the cravings for Nicotine almost immediately. People addicted to tobacco are basically addicted to the Nicotine in it, not the cigarette itself. Therefore, if there is another solution for nicotine intake rather than puffing the cigar and inhaling, people will be better off.
What about the addictive attribute of Nicotine?
It is true that frequent exposure of Nicotine will lead to a desire for a stronger dose, for example, chewing many pieces a day to maintain the feeling and avoid withdrawal symptoms. The ideal use of Nicorette is chewing instead of smoking and gradually decreases the amount days by days, weeks by weeks, and by the end of 12th week, they will stop using it. However, there are people who seem to be unable to say no. A recent figure by ACNielsen notes that 5 to 9% Nicorette users were using the gum for more than the three recommended months and half of them exceeded the recommended amount of time by more than double. There are also people who have been chewing for years.
Is that bad?
Smoking links to serious diseases like cancer. However, with nicotine alone, there has been no evidence that addiction to nicotine can cause severe medical complications. Of course, an overdose would be a totally different story. With proper uses, nicotine does prove to provide beneficial effects, typically on ones with chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s. Besides, long-term uses of Nicorette are not known to cause severe conditions other than the instantaneous rise of heart rate and some other common problems like jaw pain.
Of course, there still is a slight chance of addiction because it is Nicotine we are talking about. And when there is an addiction, there are withdrawal symptoms. However, the amount of people suffering from nicotine dependence due to Nicorette is not much, only a small number are actually experiencing real addiction. Other users, they are reported to be able to stop using the gum, but they choose not to for the fear of smoking again.
In conclusion, the gum is not really harmful. It is addictive, indeed. However, quitting smoking is one of the hardest things people have ever been through. Therefore, if using the gum keeps them from smoking, then obviously the benefit is outweighing the harm. People dies from carcinogens from combusted tobacco – from the smoke, Nicotine only serves as a thing that keeps people smoking continually. Nevertheless, people with withdrawal symptoms from using Nicorette can try other methods of NRT or smoke cessation in general.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.
Review Date: October 14, 2016 | Last Modified: October 16, 2018