They say nicotine is as addictive as cocaine and heroin. Is this true? And why?
They say nicotine is as addictive as cocaine and heroin. Is this true? And why is nicotine addictive?
Hi this is Nasia Davos and in this video, you will learn the two main reasons why nicotine is addictive, how it affects your brain, your emotions and your routine and what’s the key to breaking free, so keep on watching.
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Okay so first of all what is nicotine? Nicotine is a natural pesticide, it protects plants from being eaten by insects. But even though it occurs naturally, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you, inside the human body, nicotine is a drug. And taking nicotine in any form, causes nicotine addiction, whether you take it through cigarettes, through vape, smokeless tobacco, nicotine gums, nicotine patches, it causes nicotine addiction.
Nicotine addiction is a physical and a mental addiction.
The physical addiction is simply the addiction to the substance nicotine. The mental addiction is the effect that this has on your behaviour, your mind, your routine and your reality.
We’re going to talk about this later, but if you want to know what’s the difference between the physical and the mental addiction and what’s the difference between physical and mental cravings, I have another video for it so check the link I added for you in the description.
Okay, so why is nicotine addictive? There are two reasons: The first reason has to do with your brain. Nicotine makes your brain addicted. How does this happen? So when you take a puff this goes to your lungs then it enters your bloodstream and then it goes to your brain and it takes 10 seconds for nicotine to reach your brain. And when it’s in your brain it activates receptors that release feel-good chemicals like dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that your brain produces and it’s very important because it makes you feel good. It’s a chemical that helps us learn, feel motivated, remember things and repeat behaviours that ensure our survival, like eating. And because nicotine releases dopamine, it tricks the brain into believing that smoking or vaping is a behaviour worth repeating. And that’s how nicotine hijacks the brain, by making you believe you need it just like you need food.
And all this thing creates a thinking process, a self-talk, a craving mind that’s dedicated and reminding you to get nicotine. For example, when you’re hungry, your body will warn you and your mind will tell you “hey you need to eat”, “eat”, “just this” it’s going to insist for you to eat until you do. Why? Because it wants to protect you. The same way your brain will tell you “you need to smoke” or “just one puff” or “one cigarette won’t matter”. And it will insist until you smoke and it creates these thoughts, these mental cravings these positive thoughts about smoking. Not because you have any real enjoyment and desire for cigarettes, not because you have a self sabotaging nature and not because something is wrong with you, but simply because your brain has out-dated information and it believes that you need nicotine, it doesn’t know any better. And that’s how nicotine tricks the brain into releasing dopamine.
Now, does this mean that smokers feel happier than non-smokers? Not at all. A smoker’s brain doesn’t release more dopamine than a non-smokers brain, they just release dopamine at different times.
For example non-smokers release dopamine when they’re genuinely happy and when they feel rewarded but smokers release most of their dopamine when nicotine tells them to. And over time the smoker’s brain relies on nicotine to release its dopamine. And that’s how nicotine holds your natural feelings of reward your happiness in a way, hostage. And the thing is that the more you smoke, you build tolerance so you need more nicotine to release, to have any dopamine effect in your brain and after a while you have no real dopamine effect and you just smoke to feel normal. And that’s how nicotine depletes, it exhausts the natural reservoirs of your dopamine in your brain and that’s also how smoking can change the structure of the brain.
Now, the good news is that dopamine levels bounce back after you stop smoking after you stop using any form of nicotine and it takes about 2 to 3 months for this to happen. But I think it’s a pretty good bargain when you have been smoking for decades and you have been depleting your dopamine for decades. And then your brain takes three months to bounce back, it’s miraculous!
Apart from that, there is a lot of research that shows that non-smokers are happier than smokers and that ex-smokers who thought that they can’t cope without nicotine, they report being happier one year after they quit. So we tend to think that nicotine makes us happy, but we mistake addiction with happiness. Addiction is not happiness, freedom is happiness, health is happiness.
So nicotine is addictive because it has tricked the brain into believing you need it and you can’t live without it and that’s the first reason.
Now the second reason why nicotine is addictive is that it becomes part of your daily life. Yes, nicotine is addictive because it becomes part of your routine and it becomes a coping mechanism for you.
Because while you smoke or you vape and nicotine goes to your brain and it releases dopamine. You’re doing certain things and activities, you’re living your life so your brain has learned to link smoking or vaping and nicotine to those activities and your routines and your habits and people and all those situations. And these situations later become triggers.
So if you usually smoke while talking on the phone, then after a while talking on the phone, will trigger your cravings. If you smoke when you’re bored, then your brain has learned to expect a dopamine release when you feel that way. And the fastest way to get that, is through a cigarette. And most of the times it’s the only way you know how to get that and that’s how dopamine works. It helps us repeat behaviours by associating cues, triggers with a behaviour that release dopamine, which is smoking.
For example you have a meal, you smoke, you have a dopamine release. With time having a meal becomes a cue, a trigger to smoke. Or you feel stress, you smoke, you have a dopamine release. After a while, feeling stress is an instant reminder for you to smoke. If you don’t do it, your self-talk comes in, “you need one”. This will happen if you don’t smoke “just one cigarette”. Because your brain thinks you need it.
The only way your brain is insisting for you to smoke is because it thinks you need it. It’s because it has outdated information. And the thing is that by constantly linking your emotions, situations, moments and people to smoking, it’s easy to think that you can’t enjoy life or cope without nicotine or your cigarettes. It’s easy to think that without nicotine you cannot relax, socialize, enjoy life, take a break, drive or concentrate. Because all the situations have been linked to nicotine and you think that quitting nicotine will magically take away your capacity to enjoy life and just live.
You just don’t know how to live as a non-smoker. That’s the truth. But everything you do as a smoker, you can do better as a non-smoker. Everything you do as a nicotine addict, you can do way better when you’re free from addiction. You think you can’t, simply because you’re addicted to it. But when you stay away from nicotine, you will realize that you have been in an abusive relationship that’s based on lies and fear. You think it’s love, but in reality it’s abuse and you can only see that when you take a step back.
And the good news is that when you break free, when you stop using nicotine, your brain starts breaking the associations between your triggers and smoking or vaping or smokeless tobacco.
How does this happen? Every time you’re in a situation where you used to smoke and you don’t, and you feel calm and you feel okay, you feel content in this situation. You basically show your brain that, “hey I didn’t smoke, I didn’t vape and nothing happened”. So this feeds your brain new information, it creates new neuro-pathways in your brain. It helps you rewire your brain. Because your brain sees that you don’t need nicotine to survive which is what it used to think. So it adjusts and with time, the craving thoughts disappear because your brain understands that it doesn’t have to remind you to get nicotine because you don’t need it.
So the same way you update the software on your phone when there is a bug, think about your thinking as a software and it needs an update and the bug is that you think nicotine is essential to your survival. But just like your brain learned to expect nicotine it can learn to not expect it. After all you, were born a non-smoker so you can return to that state.
So nicotine is addictive on two levels: because it hijacks your brain into believing you need it and because it becomes part of your life.
So what’s the key to success? How do you break free? The nicotine addiction is a physical and a mental addiction. 80% of it it’s mental and only 20% is the physical addiction. The physical addiction is not a strong addiction after four to five days of being nicotine free almost all nicotine is out of your system. What makes you relapse, what makes you go back is the mental addiction, this is what’s keeping you hooked. The mental addiction is your routine, your self-talk. How much you believe you need it and enjoy it, your triggers all those things are mental not physical.
So back to the question I asked you in the beginning of this video: Is nicotine as addictive as cocaine and heroin. Physically, absolutely not! Physically, nicotine is not very addictive. It leaves your body if you just don’t use nicotine it’s gonna leave your body in five days.
Mentally, yes! Exactly because it creates a bubble, it creates a lie that you cannot live life without it and that life is inferior without it. But that’s what addiction does. So the secret, the key to breaking free is to stay away from all nicotine and to work on overcoming the mental addiction. In other words, you need to change how you see smoking, how you think about it and you need to change your relationship with cigarettes.
You need to reprogram your brain to not believe that nicotine is essential to your survival. So if you want to know how to overcome the mental addiction, please make sure you get the foundational video of the CBQ method.
The CBQ method has four quit smoking stages that are based on psychology. This has no drugs, no medications, none of those things. And it has helped thousands of smokers quit for good. It’s the same four stages I talked about in my TED talk and they’re specifically designed to remove the desire for nicotine and change how you think about it and break the habit. So get the video the link is in the description. In the video, i’ll show you what are the four stages of the CBQ method that are the mental and behavioural stages you need to go through so you can reprogram your brain.
I also show you how these four stages work together and I give you one tip to get started with each stage. I also show you how you became addicted to nicotine and how you can go through the same process to break free. And you’re going to get an overview of your journey, a bird’s-eye view of your journey. And it’s going help you whether you have already quit. Because you’re going to see if anything is missing from your attempt. It’s going to help you if you want to quit soon. Because you’re going to put a plan and it’s going to help you if you think about quitting is out of the question right now because it’s going to take the big and sometimes intimidating goal of quitting smoking. And it’s going break it down into approachable steps, so go watch it now and let me know in the comments why you think nicotine is addictive.
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Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see in the next video.