Does Nicotine Cause Head Rush?

Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2022
Does nicotine cause head rush
Nicotine produces a feeling of high, known as a head rush, by disrupting the chemical balance in the brain.

Yes, nicotine produces a feeling of high.

Nicotine disrupts the chemical balance in the brain. It mostly impacts dopamine and noradrenaline molecules. These changes occur at a breakneck speed. When you inhale nicotine, it rushes to the brain, where it takes effect and produces pleasurable feelings. Therefore, many smokers become addicted to nicotine high.

When you quit smoking and inhale nicotine after a period or during the withdrawal period, the nicotine head rush comes on even stronger. This head rush is what makes it difficult to quit.

Why is smoking so addictive?

Nicotine is the substance that causes smokers to continue to smoke. Cigarettes are quite addictive due to the substance present in tobacco leaves. All cigars, smokeless tobacco (such as chew or snuff), and most electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes contain it. Nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges all contain the substance.

The more you smoke, the more nicotine your brain becomes accustomed to. This implies you will need to smoke more to achieve the same effect.

Addiction occurs when your body becomes reliant on nicotine and its effects daily. The absence of nicotine is what causes withdrawal symptoms when you quit smoking. Withdrawal symptoms are more likely to occur if you are addicted to nicotine.

However, most of these symptoms will subside within a week or two of quitting and should completely disappear around four weeks.

14 most prevalent signs and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal

The signs and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal differ with people. The severity of the symptoms is based on the nicotine product and the amount of nicotine in the product.

  1. Nicotine compulsions or urges (cravings), which is one of the most prevalent symptoms
  2. Headaches
  3. Nausea
  4. Dizziness
  5. Anxiety, jitteriness, irritability, grouchiness, or anger
  6. You may be frustrated, upset, or depressed
  7. Sleeping problems
  8. Having trouble concentrating
  9. Fatigue, restlessness, or boredom
  10. Increased hunger and weight gain
  11. Constipation, gas, or diarrhea are symptoms of constipation
  12. More coughing and phlegm or mucus production
  13. Dry mouth, sore throat, and nasal drip
  14. Tightness in the chest

Why do symptoms of nicotine withdrawal occur?

Nicotine binds to certain brain receptors. It causes the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurohormone that makes you feel good.

  • Dopamine will continue to be released as long as you utilize nicotine-containing goods.
  • Nicotine receptors in the brain are no longer triggered when you don't smoke or consume nicotine-containing goods.
  • Because less dopamine is released, your pleasure centers, mood and behavior, are impacted, resulting in withdrawal symptoms.


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Head rush can be an early sign of nicotine poisoning

Nicotine poisoning occurs when your body has too much of it. The amount that produces an overdose is determined by factors, such as your body weight and the source of nicotine.

Typically, someone who receives prompt, proper care recovers completely. A severe case of poisoning, however, could have long-term consequences.

For an adult weighing 150 pounds, 50 to 60 mg of nicotine is a lethal amount according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, some study suggests that the deadly dose could be far larger.

It is unlikely that smoking cigarettes will cause you to overdose on nicotine. When you smoke a cigarette, your body absorbs just approximately 1/10th of the nicotine in it or about 1 mg. Overdosing from nicotine gum or a patch is uncommon, but it might happen if you do not follow the guidelines strictly.

It takes less nicotine to poison children because they are smaller (or pets for the same reason). A cigarette butt contains enough poison to injure your child if they eat one, for example. An older youngster who is experimenting with chewing tobacco has the potential to overdose.

E-cigarettes represent a greater danger. They use batteries to turn liquid nicotine, which is normally stored in a cartridge or container, into a gas or vapor that may be inhaled. It is possible to be poisoned by ingesting liquid nicotine. If you drop some on your skin or get it in your eye, it can be dangerous.

For a 26-pound toddler, as little as one teaspoon of liquid nicotine can be lethal.

What are the symptoms of nicotine poisoning?

Nicotine poisoning is typically divided into two stages. After a small overdose, symptoms usually last an hour or two, whereas severe poisoning might last up to 24 hours. 

Within the first 15 minutes to an hour, you will notice early signs.

The symptoms in the late phase are more like a slowing down. They occur anywhere between 30 minutes and 4 hours after consumption.

What to do if you have nicotine poisoning

Immediately call for an ambulance or rush to the emergency room. Do not attempt to induce vomiting or self-medicate.

Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

McLaughlin I, Dani JA, De Biasi M. Nicotine withdrawal. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;24:99-123.

Karaconji IB. Facts about nicotine toxicity. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 2005 Dec;56(4):363-71.

Maessen GC, Wijnhoven AM, Neijzen RL, et al. Nicotine intoxication by e-cigarette liquids: a study of case reports and pathophysiology. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2020 Jan;58(1):1-8.