Nicotine more harmful than Cocaine

People who smoke cigarettes are drug addicts. We all know that. Nicotine is one of the gateway drugs to cocaine. Smoking cigarettes is similar to smoking a crack pipe. Nicotine takes 8 seconds to get to the brain from the lungs. Once it is in the brain, it binds itself to brain cells that are responsible for the release of dopamine. Nicotine and cocaine both releases dopamine.

Dopamine affects what is called the brain's reward and pleasure circuit, which are structures within the brain involved with learning, appetite, memory function, and pleasurable feelings. As the excess dopamine overwhelms this area of the brain, it triggers feelings of pleasure.

After a period of time (about 40 minutes in most smokers), the effects of nicotine begins to erode. This gives a smoker the urge to have another cigarette. Consequently, addiction starts with regular use of cigarettes. This causes the brains chemical structure and signaling to change in order to adapt to the continuous intake of nicotine. Instead of the brain naturally regulating its dopamine level, the brain will downsize the manufacturing of dopamine as it makes the adjustment to the excess levels.

Psychological Addiction is defined by the continuous use of a substance even though it decreases the health of the user. Physiological addiction is characterized by when a drug has the ability to turn on the reward mechanism in the brain. Because stimulating this neural circuitry makes you feel so good, you will continue to do it again and again to get those feelings back. People who recently started smoking cigarette build up a tolerance to nicotine. Therefore a higher nicotine intake is required to get the same reward in the brain than before. This is the same and main reason why cocaine is addictive.

The dark side to nicotine is withdrawal problems. This is noticed with all addictive drugs. Nicotine effects are short lived. It takes the body about an hour to rid itself of the drug. Therefore a regular user of cigarette will smoke a cigarette every hour at least. Here are the effects triggered when a cigarette smoker tries to quit smoking:

· Irritation

· Anxiousness

· Craving for the drug

· Depression

The brain will automatically increase the amount of nicotine receptors in order to adapt to the large intake of nicotine. When the intake of nicotine is discontinued, the receptors remain. This causes a chemical imbalance in the brain, which in turn leads to a deep craving for the drug. After 3-4 months without nicotine intake, the brain will return to its regular structure.

Social and Economic effects of nicotine must also be taken into consideration. Ever wondered why cigarette is 'the party drug'. Nicotine added to cigarettes makes it the number one used drug in the world? It is quite unlikely that the cigarette industry would be a trillion dollar industry without nicotine in its product. In order to get the cigarettes to sell, the manufacturers laces the product with this drug. This method is used hoping to get first time users hooked. Those first time users become loyal repeat users. They in turn generate easy profits for the cigarette industry.

Non-users or curious onlookers are at the forefront of those being targeted. Users of cigarettes shell out a large portion of their income for this drug. The poorer the person, the larger the percentage of their income goes to cigarettes. The social and biological implication of the drug arises as a result of the use of this drug around other people, especially children, even the unborn. Society has taken steps to curb smoking within some public and private areas in order to reduce these implications.

Let’s look at the political side of nicotine. Cigarettes are one the main source of income for governments across the globe. A special tax is always levied on cigarettes because of its addictive nature. Governments in turn reap a lot of internal revenue from cigarettes. The FDA never bans cigarettes or the use of nicotine. However on the FDA’s website ,there are some warnings:

Proposed Graphic Health Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements

WARNING: Cigarettes are addictive.

WARNING: Tobacco smoke can harm your children.

WARNING: Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease.

WARNING: Cigarettes cause cancer.

WARNING: Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease.

WARNING: Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby.

WARNING: Smoking can kill you. WARNING: Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in non-smokers.

WARNING: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.

All cigarette producers are required to put one of these warnings on cigarette package and advertisements. I have never really seen on a cigarette box or ad warning that cigarettes are addictive. It’s always smoking kills or causes cancer.

I would like to include a recent study showing that cocaine addicts can get high off nicotine.

Press release 2nd February 1999

(ASH) Action on Smoking and Health

Cocaine addicts confuse drug impact of nicotine and cocaine...In the first study to compare the subjective effects of cocaine and nicotine [1], hard drug users frequently thought they were taking cocaine or heroin, when they were actually taking nicotine. 10 cocaine-addicted smokers were injected with high, medium and low doses of cocaine or nicotine [2] without knowing what they were taking. They were asked to rate the drug sensations (both good and bad), to guess what the drug was,and to say how much money they would pay for the experience offered by the drug. The findings are remarkable.

· Subjects found that nicotine had a comparable drug impact to cocaine - and the high dose of nicotine had greater drug effect than the high dose of cocaine.

· The 'rush' and 'high' were greater from nicotine than from cocaine.

· The highest levels of 'good sensation' were achieved from the highest dose of nicotine. However, nicotine also had more negative effects, such as 'jitters', than cocaine.

· Most users identified nicotine as a stimulant, of these the majority (75%) thought they were taking cocaine when they were actually taking nicotine. At the highest dose of nicotine, 40% thought they were taking an opiate such as heroin.

· Though nicotine had the largest drug effect and the highest good sensation, the subjects were prepared to pay less for it because of the negative effects. The average willingness to pay for the high dose of cocaine was $6.32 but $3 for the highest nicotine fix.

Clive Bates, Director of ASH commented: "We know tobacco is powerfully addictive and that nicotine affects the brain in subtle ways that are similar to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. We tend to think of nicotine as a soft drug, but this research adds weight to the idea that it is more like a hard drug, albeit one that is legal and in widespread use.

"A big difference between cocaine and nicotine is that tobacco users take their nicotine in a cocktail of four thousand of toxic chemicals. The vicious combination of addiction and poison is what leads to 120,000 smoking deaths per year in the UK. Taking nicotine by inhaling cigarette smoke is like injecting hard drugs through a dirty syringe." Jones H, Garrett B, Griffiths R, 'Subjective and Physiological Effects of Intravenous Nicotine and Cocaine in Cigarette Smoking Cocaine Abusers' the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 288:188-197 January 1999.[2]

The study used intravenously injected doses of 0.75, 1.5, 3.0mg nicotine per 70 kg body weight. This covers the low, typical and high dose of nicotine that can be drawn from smoking a cigarette. For cocaine, the doses were 10, 20, 40 mg cocaine per 70 kg body weight. A 'line' of cocaine typically contains 20-30 mg of cocaine hydrochloride. Placebos were also used.


In Conclusion the main reason why nicotine is more dangerous than cocaine is availability, legality and cost. Nicotine can be bought in the supermarket. Even though nicotine has the same reward mechanism (addictive) effects as cocaine, it can be obtained legally. This will result in a lower cost for the same drug reaction in comparison to other drugs that also release dopamine in the brain.

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Comments 30 comments

gconeyhiden profile image

gconeyhiden 5 years ago from Brooklyn, N.Y.C. U.S.A

well on this hub I totally agree w you. the act of smoking itself seems to be somewhat addicting and nicotine is very addicting. so you are 100% correct in my humble estimation. tobacco nicotine is the most popular gateway drug next to alcohol. sending someone to jail for just smoking a splif and then letting nicotine be the drug of choice really shows what hypocrisy is all about. my friend ends up in the hospital every year but still he refuses to even think about quitting the nicotine joints.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

I think they should make cigarettes with nicotine illegal. It has a heavy cost on the health system.

Thanks for sharing gconeyhidden.

sparkster profile image

sparkster 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I did try cigarettes without nicotine a long time ago, they were awful. It would certainly help people give up.

It's definitely true that smoking is a gateway into the world of drugs too, although personally there is no way I would have ever tried a cigarette if I hadn't been drunk at the time.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Most of my friends smoke around me. I always tell them that they are trying to assassinate me on behalf of the cooperation's. Thanks Sparkster.

Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Rather than make any statement such as "your wrong" - I'll just say that this all seems strange to me.

I'm experienced enough to know and have also observed that what one drug does to one might do something totally different to another person.

I get a kick out of the total freak out I get from people when I tell them about how I've shot meth with 60 year old men that have houses, cars, jobs, wives, grandkids...the whole nine yards...and they would do bigger doses than I would.

Folks think that you do meth and you automatically lose all your teeth or something...pathetic, idiotic bs..all straight from the mainstream media.

But don't think I'm endorsing the use of methamphetamine - that's not the case at all, I'm only stating that ...crap learned in the mass media is almost always either straight up lies, or the most grossly distorted things imaginable.

I've also quite a lot of experience with cocaine...powder, crack - needles...I'm the guy who's done all of that.

While I'm busy telling you how stupid my decision making has been in the past, I might as well go ahead and tell you that I started smoking cigarettes while in a Christian Discipleship ministry that doubled as a drug/alcohol rehab. I started smoking because it was against the rules - am I a genius, or what?

So interesting article. I can't actually agree that smoking cigarettes is as harmful as cocaine - but that's my individual point of view, and I know for certain that some folks can smoke a $50 of crack on Saturday night...and that's it...till next weekend. I've also known folks that would sell themselves to anyone on the street after doing the same thing.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

I had those same withdrawal symptoms when I quit diet soda for 8 weeks. I'm back on the wagon. Your hub was interesting.

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina

Great informative hub. I remember a few years ago, Ozzy Osbourn did an interview and he said that giving up smoking was harder to do than giving up heroine. Even he said quitting smoking is the hardest thing he has ever done. Well done!

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

I considered it but I'm not a quitter.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Respect shaw, I get what you are saying. I once participated in an experiment in college. Where the professors took us to a bar. We all had several shots. People got real drunk and rowdy, we also did couple exams while in the bar. After that, The professor confessed we were drinking non-alcoholic beverages.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Respect tammy, cigarette is easy and cheap to source. Heroin is expensive and hard to source. Cigarette also takes away the craving for heroin temporarily. thanks for reading.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

respect sunshine, you are funny. The high fructose corn syrup in most sodas do cause some dopamine to be released in the brain. All of my smoker friends drink Pepsi.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Thanks Rasta, I'm a coke fan...the drink!:)

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

rasta1...I'm taking your word for all you've written because 1. It appears you are well-educated on this particular subject or at least have done your homework with some serious research...while all I "think," I know is what I hear from the masses, see on TV shows (of all types, including documentaries & "Intervention.") 2. I've never done a single "illegal" drug in my life, thus I would have no personal experience....but have certainly known many addicts, in my work as well as some friends/family members.

Two women (clients) in particular, left an everlasting frightful effect on me that also left me beyond comprehension that an individual with half a brain, would go near meth or crack in the very first place. These 2 females were in their early thirties. one was a crack addict, one a meth addict...both were in court-ordered parenting classes as part of their struggle to regain custody of the children who had been removed from their care. I know from photos that these 2 young ladies were fairly attractive and healthy in prior years. But "what" (not WHO) sat in my office were painfully thin (as in "bony") women, with thinning, dull, stringy hair, nails bitten to the quick with scabs forming on their fingertips, seriously marred and scarred facial skin, with some open sores, deep crevices and dry patches....and the FEW teeth they still had in their mouths, were Black with decay.In short, a HORRIFIC sight to behold. If one's first reaction was not to CRY at this sight, it was to simply the mere thought of this severe damage having been done by their own hand.

While your information on the "addictive" nature of cigarettes, can be proven accurate... What I can state without a single second of hesitation or question, is: NEVER IN MY ENTIRE LIFE (more than 60 yrs.)HAVE I EVER ENCOUNTERED NOR SEEN A SINGLE "SMOKER" (providing this was their only nasty habit) WHO HAD THEIR CHILDREN TAKEN FROM THEM DUE TO THAT HABIT...NOR WOUND UP LOOKING LIKE A WALKING DEAD WOMAN....and in fact, not far from death. They had destroyed their former lives poverty for having spent all their $$ on drugs, in legal troubles, to include lock-up...for theft, etc., alienated from all family and friends, stripped of their children and destruction of their bodies, minds and pretty much, their souls.

NONE of the above has ever been an issue for "cigarette" smokers. After all this, my comments and my questions? Normal and resonable individuals can and should agree that all detrimental substances we put into our bodies by any means, for any length of time, are fairly guaranteed to cause ALL MANNER of NEGATIVE, even deadly reactions and consequences. Some may be worse in ways than others, legal or illegal....but again, I believe we can agree the BEST move is in the OPPOSITE direction from any and all of these things. But, human beings have, since the beginning of time, sought out and practised means to alter the mind. Education, Bans, extreme expense, illness, prohibition, imprisonment.. the BIG WAR ON DRUGS....have made but a small "dent" in deterring, much less ridding our Society of these destructive/killer substances.

In your intelligent/educated you TRULY believe there can be a HUGE enough impact made via all the efforts and money being spent to steer human beings REALLY change this REALITY that exists and has always existed?? My own private belief is that, as we humans are who and what we are.....there will ALWAYS be those who do...and there will ALWAYS be those who do NOT....and this is just the way it is. To think, hope or believe we can "change" human nature is to think hope or believe the impossible.

Yes, I talk too much. I am addicted to knowledge and learning. I appreciate and respect your opinions and I found your hub extremely well-written. Thank you.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

The main reason narcotic drug users look so beat up is because those drugs are more expensive and harder to source. So the users will rob, con, steal, sell sex to get the money. This leads to them having scars, toothless and looking older.

However, the lungs of a cigarette user is the same as a narcotic user (burnt out and black). 99% of all narcotic users smoke cigarettes. It is the number one drug that leads to relapse. Nicotine is a strong re-enforcer to continue narcotic behaviors.

One of the reason governments chose cigarette as their addictive drug of choice to endorse is because the effects of cigarettes is not quickly visible and manifests internally.

Cigarettes have a much higher health and social cost to countries than any narcotic drug because they are more users. Peaceful cigarette smokers have the same life expectancy as Violent narcotic users.

On an individual basis, narcotic users are at risk of overdosing (dying) or becoming psychotic. I still rate cigarettes more dangerous because it kills the people around them too.

Respect fpherj48

gconeyhiden profile image

gconeyhiden 5 years ago from Brooklyn, N.Y.C. U.S.A

Did you know tobacco is categorized as a hallucinogen. yep that's right. its considered one of the oldest and longest used drugs known to indiginous peoples in the new world. well at least according to archeologists who study these ancient societies. so my feelings are govts are just nit picking the poisons ad hock with no real thought involved except greed and status quo. want to drink yourself to death..go ahead. want to smoke tobacco to death and have your kids watch you rot away..go ahead. i don't recommend ganja marijuana but nobody should ever spend a single day in jail for smoking a joint period unless they are committing a real crime while doing it.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Respect gconeyhiden, I did not know that tobacco is classified as a hallucinogen. There is a potent form of tobacco in the island called red herring. It does cause hallucination come to think of it.

gconeyhiden profile image

gconeyhiden 5 years ago from Brooklyn, N.Y.C. U.S.A

hey wesman anybody who sticks a needle in their arm is a fool. I had a friend once who was very smart..created a big photography business and had goldmansachs as a client. he was raking in the dough. he started getting cocky. he started off snorting all kinds of shit..still he was able to rake it in. one day i come to work and i look at him and he has a shit eating big silly grin on his face and his eyes were wet and i knew right away he was done for from that grin. he had shot up heroin and his slide to hell had begun. in a year he lost just about everything and he was making over a million a year. that shot made him like alice in wonderland..small enough to fit down the drain. my advice to everyone is love yourself. respect yourself and find your true passion in life and don't ever ever let anyone except a doctor or nurse stick a needle in your arm. it maybe the last thing you do. addicts like company.... he tried to get me to join him on his tab. what a friend. the devil... my friend.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

I have a lot of experiences with friends being addicted and losing everything and it all started out with a cigarette.

Jennifer 5 years ago

HmmmIve been smoking for almost 20 years and I don't do any illegal drugs. I smoke cigarettes- that's my only vice. Its not a gateway drug.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Unfortunately Jennifer, It is a gateway drug for other narcotics users. 99% of all narcotics users smoke cigarettes. It is the fall back drug, when the main drug is not available.

gconeyhiden profile image

gconeyhiden 5 years ago from Brooklyn, N.Y.C. U.S.A

jen, cigarettes in another world could be illegal and they are going the way of stricter enforcement but your right just because you smoke em doesn't mean your bound to do other stuff. I consider addiction a form of almost slow motion suicide. I have seen heavy smokers die of all sorts of lung & throat ailments and its not pretty. Jen do yourself a favor and quit...IF YOU CAN. YOU WILL NEED WILL POWER AND YOU MUST WANT TO STOP BUT I DO KNOW PEOPLE WHO DID. rasta i gave up on cigs after a bad asthma attack many years ago. never picked one up after that and im with you on hating the darn things. thing is most people don't really look at it like real drug but in a class like coffee which also contains a drug of sorts only its more dangerous then coffee.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

True word gconeyhiden. Nicotine is also a comfort drug. Smoking cigarettes can provide the dopamine that is needed to feel good. So there may not be a need to do advance drugs if the person has become comfortable with nicotine.

On the other hand, narcotic users will use cigarettes as a fill in drug, because it has the possibility to give narcotic users similar dopamine release.

It's pretty easy for some one to move from cigarettes to narcotics, searching for a stronger high. Especially if the person is stressed and/or depressed.

Karlhirsh1 profile image

Karlhirsh1 4 years ago from Weedsport, New York

this is a great hub thanks

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Respect Karlhirsh1, I just found out that cigarettes contain more chemicals than cocaine.

£€0 4 years ago

More people are murder for wars than for illegal drugs. Ours ancestros used all tipes of alucinogenos drugs n more,but since Europeans colonos sprayed around the globe, freedom was treate as today drugs. Democracy has became the perfect dictatorship of our daily living,we have to ask for a permit for 80% of ours actions to goberments. As one more slave of today world order, i will said that soon or later we are goin to witness massives suicidal scape groups of persons due so much control from ours goberment. Its like living with a mom n a dad in a home were everything u do it wrong.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Respect pound and euro, That is the biggest complaint from first world countries. Governments are trying to suck people dry with drug addiction or pharmaceuticals.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

This is a good Hub for discussion. There can be arguments for and against drug use. I have lost friends due to use of Oxy pills not not one to cocaine. I have lost friends due to smoking, so.....

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Mary. I recently lost a friend to smoking after writing this hub. We did not know that his coughing symptoms were that of lungs cancer. I constantly preach to my other friends to drop cigarettes. A lot of them are quitting the habit.

About the Oxy. It is probable the most dangerous and addictive drug in the world. Just one tablet can change your brain chemistry forever.

freeman 2 years ago

Wow...cant believe you people...No greater evil has this world than those who seek dominion over others....Stop trying to control people, its no ones business what someone puts into their own bodies. Telling other people what they can or cant do is more harmful than either cigarettes or cocaine.

rasta1 profile image

rasta1 2 years ago from Jamaica Author

That's exactly my point, The marketers along with scientist that create addictive substances are very convincing.

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