Nicotine and Alcohol

We discussed in an earlier post about nicotine synergy, and talked about how it synergies well with caffeine for example. In this post we will review the synergy with alcohol specifically. There is a high percentage of alcohol consumer who also happen to also consume nicotine, and unfortunately cigarettes are their main choice. But for a moment, let’s just ignore the fact that cigarettes are bad and focus on the nicotine. Is there something inherent in nicotine that make alcohol consumers more prone to using nicotine? In other words, is nicotine just adding alcohol or is there some synergy that is created in the same way as in caffeine? To know more about this we must read about the research that has been done.

For example, the following research from Science Direct is a good example.

Potential substrates for nicotine and alcohol interactions: A focus on the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system

“Epidemiological studies consistently find correlations between nicotine and alcohol use, yet the neural mechanisms underlying their interaction remain largely unknown. Nicotine and alcohol (i.e., ethanol) share many common molecular and cellular targets that provide potential substrates for nicotine–alcohol interactions. These targets for interaction often converge upon the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system, where the link to drug self-administration and reinforcement is well documented. Both nicotine and alcohol activate the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system, producing downstream dopamine signals that promote the drug reinforcement process. While nicotine primarily acts via nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, alcohol acts upon a wider range of receptors and molecular substrates. The complex pharmacological profile of these two drugs generates overlapping responses that ultimately intersect within the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system to promote drug use. Here we will examine overlapping targets between nicotine and alcohol and provide evidence for their interaction. Based on the existing literature, we will also propose some potential targets that have yet to be directly tested. Mechanistic studies that examine nicotine–alcohol interactions would ultimately improve our understanding of the factors that contribute to the associations between nicotine and alcohol use.”

For a more in depth perspective regarding nicotine and alcohol, a highly recommended read is the following:

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Candies and Resisting the Urge of Smoking

It is an easy argument from regular people to describe using nicotine candies as nothing more than substituting one addiction with another. This is kind of a brainless argument, since one kills you and the other perfectly harmless.

Candies provide not only an very effective way against smoking, but after a certain amount of time, 4-6 weeks for some people, it makes smoking completely a thing of the past. Just like non-smokers who flee the smell of cigarettes every time they pass by one, someone using lozenges or candies will slowly have the same reaction overtime, and that’s a good thing. Using candies is not only effective to switch from cigarettes to a non-lethal way of using nicotine, but will make you avoid it completely. This can be a little counter intuitive the first time you think of switching to nicotine candies, but will completely make sense and will slowly start even just 1 week after use. You will be using nicotine strictly for its calming and cognitive enhancing effects, and you will never go back.

There are also psychological reasons why using candies won’t make you go back to smoking. These are not so obvious unless you think about them. For example there is the sense of taste as well as the sense of feeling busy. If we take for example the current mint lozenges on the market today, there is no question that they are really unappealing. One of the reason is that they are not meant to be used for long term use, therefore the companies making them don’t care that much about their taste and never improved them (nor reduced their price). The real problem is that using lozenges becomes almost a chore and you start dreading about the awful taste of the chalky mint lozenges and inevitably go to smoking. Another psychological effect is the idea that while smoking you feel you are doing something and it keeps your mind busy; this sounds almost too obvious to mention and seems trivial, but it’s very powerful. When you just put a patch your mind gets the nicotine, but it still doesn’t give you the satisfaction of doing something, and that is why people who use gums and lozenges have a higher success rate than those who use patches. When the fun of “doing something” which come froms cigarettes brings is gone you will slowly without knowing drift back to cigarette. By creating pleasant tasting candies, you kill almost 2 birds in one stone, you simultaneously get lozenges that taste good and won’t become boring over time, and therefore increasing the chance of not smoking ever again, but also candies keep your mind busy while it’s melting in your mouth. Also these are very important factors  that add up. You want to put all the chances on your side when you are fighting cigarettes.

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Nicotine As an Anxiolytic

Besides it’s stimulating effect, nicotine has also incredible anxiolytic effect. This is based on the following research from pubmed:

Anxiolytic-like and anxiogenic-like effects of nicotine are regulated via diverse action at β2*nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

This research is about a very specific receptor, the β2*nAChRs. Nicotine acts in so many ways and through so many receptors that it can act both as a stimulant and a relaxant, and even in both instances, the effects are not really simple. You don’t necessarily need to know all the ins and outs of nicotine even if you’re a regular user but for us, because nicotine has impacted us in so many positive ways we feel it would be a good idea to discover as much as possible, and also to break the wrong myths about nicotine. Nicotine is the most harmless content of cigarettes, but we use nicotine not just because it is harmless, but because it has so many positive effects in almost every area. In fact, it has so many positive effects that it would almost make no sense to not use it. Quoting from that study:
“Inhibition of β2*nAChRs may relieve anxiety in smokers and non-smokers alike.”
For our purpose, we can replace the word “smokers” with simply nicotine users and also replace “non-smokers” with non nicotine users. It is common sense, but it must be pointed out. It is no longer necessary in this day and age to administer nicotine through cigarettes due to the negative long term effects of smoke, but rather through the long term and safe administration of nicotine through lozenges throughout your lifetime.

So getting back to the study, what exactly is this β2*nAChRs? Pubmed publishes some of the most advanced studies and the papers and it’s not generally aimed to the layman, although the conclusions can be easily understood. From wikipedia,

“nAChRs, are receptor proteins that respond to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine“.

This is very different from the dopamine or from the stimulating effects from nicotine, that’s an entirely different story and for future posts. Now nAChRs is not a single receptor, but is divided into many ‘subgroups’ if you want. There are millions of people who go out of their way to activate acetylcholine using nootropic supplements such as Piracetam and Choline and dozens of other similar supplements. There is a whole world and market for nootropics. Most of them simply read about someone’s experience using those nootropics and jump straight to purchase them without knowing why or how they work. Little do they know that there is already a single compound that is widely available that will accomplish all of that and so much more, and that of course is nicotine. So digging deeper, nAChRs is actually divided in 17 subgroups. Yes 17. But to make things just a little bit simpler, these 17 subgroups can be separated into 4 main groups, simply from I-IV. The 3rd one (III) however can be further divided into 3 other groups, called 1-3; in the 1st one we have α2, α3, α4, α6, in the 2nd one we have β2, β4, and in the 3rd one we have β3, α5. Why are we telling you all this? That is because the study mentioned above deals with β2 of subroup 2 only. This study was very specific in it’s purpose, and obviously nicotine touches on many other receptors, including others in the nAChRs family. So next time you hear that nicotine is addictive because of dopamine, at least now you know a little better. We’ll make sure to show you everything we know on nicotine and sometimes it gets into messy little details and is not clear cut or simple, but that’s why nicotine is great; it’s like having dozens of drugs or supplements packed into one molecule. Again, you don’t need to know all the ins and outs, and if it makes your life simpler you can just remember: it works.

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Nicotine as an Antidepressant

In the last post, we discussed nicotine as an anxiolytic. In this post we will discuss some of the antidepressant effects. Nicotine withdrawal will inevitably cause almost anyone to suffer from mild to moderate depression, but that’s not a reason to not use nicotine all together due to the availability and low cost of nicotine, so the real question to ask is, “Does nicotine have anti-depressant effect as a standalone drug?” and not the other way around since asking it backwards does not show any negative sides. As mentioned in an earlier post as well, nicotine does not cause any crash. So no crash, widely available and low cost….still, does it have any positive effects, especially as an anti-depressant?

We can start by studies done on nicotine patches. When searching anything about mood or depression, the best studies are always the ones that are double blind. Double blind means that neither the patient nor the doctor knows whether the substance they’re administering is the real thing or a sugar pill; this is the only way to be certain of the effects of a certain substance.

Transdermal nicotine attenuates depression symptoms in nonsmokers: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. (Pubmed)

You’ll need a subscription to read the full article, but the conclusion could be sufficient for now:


These findings suggest a role for nicotinic receptor systems in the pathophysiology of depression and that nicotinic compounds should be evaluated for treating depression symptoms.”

Here is another article from a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurobiology and Pharmacology at Yale University.

Smoking and Depression: Targeting Nicotine Receptors To Relieve Depression

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Nicotine and Memory

From the European Neuro Ppsychopharmacolog :

Nicotine was investigated for its mnemonic effect in a two trials object recognition task. In the first trial, two copies of the same object were presented. In the second trial (24 h after), one of the familiar object and a new object were presented. The time spent exploring the new object by control rats was not significantly different from the exploration time of the familiar object, indicating that they did not remember the familiar object. Rats injected with nicotine before the first trial, after the first trial or before the second trial spent more time in exploring the new object than the familiar one at the second trial. These results suggest that, in normal rats, acute nicotine enhances acquisition, consolidation and restitution of the information in an object recognition task.


Ok, so the above study was done on rats, but nevertheless it worked. If you doubt it works on humans, I guarantee you it does, a lot. There is no doubt on the effects nicotine has on humans. After a little more digging, you can find the following:

The effects of chronic nicotine on the behavioral performance of young (4 month) and old (24 month) Fischer-344 rats were assessed on four behavioral tasks: activity chamber. rotating rod, serial pattern learning, and Morris water maze paradigm. Old and young nicotine-treated rats received an intraperitoneal injection of nicotine (0.20 mg/kg) 15 min prior to all behavioral testing, and old and young saline-treated rats received saline injections 15 min prior to all behavioral testing. Nicotine improved motor coordination and increased the general activity levels of the old rats compared to old saline-treated rats. There were no significant differences in the behaviors of the young rats in these behavioral evaluations. In young rats, nicotine improved the acquisition of a serial pattern, suggesting an improvement in working memory or related processes. Nicotine was found to increase swim speed in a Morris water maze paradigm with a hidden platform; however, no beneficial effects of nicotine in reference memory were obtained for either age group. These results suggests that nicotine may not be as beneficial in attenuating age-related learning and memory deficits as once proposed.

Sure, again on rats, but very conclusive as this time it was on 344 rats and the results are very conclusive. Speed, coordination and memory were all improved. But what about humans, especially as you get older? Here is a study from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Study explores nicotine patch to treat memory loss

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Is Nicotine for Everyone?

As a general rule, we strongly believe everyone can benefit from the use of nicotine, especially combined with coffee. There are some obvious exceptions such as people who are allergic, but for everyone else the benefits far outweigh everything else. The short list of everything else is addiction and cost. Both of these are remedied with low cost and high availability. If something is widely available and low cost, then neither cost nor addiction are problems anymore. If you are able to carry a box of candies anywhere you go for less than $0.20 per candy, what is the problem?

You are technically speaking, in some ways, also addicted to water. Can you go a full day without drinking a glass of water? Or have you gone a single day in the last 10 years of your life without water? It’s easy to argue that water is different because your body naturally needs it. Well, there are people who are born on this planet unfortunately with anxiety issues and other mental issues for which cigarettes has been able to help tremendously to cope with their daily lives, and have done so for years, some people for the last 50 years. Are these people “addicted” to cigarettes, or do they simply “need” it for function in society?

It becomes a ridiculous conversation where as one party simply will not meet in half way and acknowledge that nicotine, if separated from cigarettes and transformed into a candy, can not physically nor mentally harm you, in any way, and on the opposite effect, will provide tremendous relief.


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Vaping and Nicotine

Ok, we love vaping as much as anyone else. Vaping is fun, it can taste pretty good, and also it’s pretty cool. All things considered, it is a much better choice than cigarettes by a long shot. One common problem is that people who vape think it’s so safe that they vape much more as they would normally smoke. People who would normally smoke 5 or 10 cigarettes start vaping 20 times a day or more. Vaping generate toxic chemicals. Everyone who vapes will deny this and say that what they vape is basically glycerin vapor and therefore without consequence. An easy clue to test this is through a smoke detector. Vaping against a smoke detector will trigger the smoke alarm. That is not a good sign since smoke detectors respond to carbon monoxide.

What the general public doesn’t realize is that things that are completely safe for human consumption such as sugar, once burned release high concentrations of acetaldehyde, a well  known toxic carcinogenic. The same is true with vaping glycerin and propylene glycol, except this time the culprit is Formaldehyde, another dangerous acetaldehyde. All of these are very well documented. There is no escaping the fact that the human body is not meant to smoke, vape nor inhale vapors; they all produce chemicals that are cancer to humans.


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Nicotine on Mood

Nicotine is both a stimulant as well as a relaxant. If you take too much, the relaxing properties will take over the stimulation. In clinical studies,  nicotine has shown to improve mood in general. This is especially true if you consume nicotine in the morning, when all the receptors are well rested and your mind is fresh. The relaxing effects in the morning will almost always be greater than the stimulating effect for approximately 30 minutes, and then you will be left with a very good focus and alertness. The exact mechanism through which nicotine affects mood is complex. It is a combination of its action as muscarinic and nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist , nicotinic receptors agonism, dopamine and epinephrine among other things. Combine that with a cup of coffee and you have a serious nootropic.

Using nicotine throughout the day will give you a clearer and a more positive outlook on your morning activities. Things will look less like a chore and more like a pleasant activity. You will also notice you do more and get more things accomplished during the day. Obviously every one is different and the effects may vary slightly from one person to the other, but there is strong evidence that almost everyone can benefit from using nicotine.  Nicotine also helps with depressed patients according to a clinical study from Oct 1995, , depressed patients saw an improvement in their sleep and also in their overall mood. Here is a second article from a study in Sept 1996:

Nicotine patches produced short-term improvement of depression with minor side effects. Because of nicotine’s high risk to health, nicotine patches are not recommended for clinical use in depression. Analogue drugs may be developed in the future that may help improve depression without the risk of other major health problems.

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Nicotine and Tolerance

Tolerance to nicotine in unlike other drugs. Obviously that doesn’t mean that it’s not there or doesn’t exist, quite the contrary the tolerance builds quite rapidly for new users. However, unlike other drugs, this tolerance does reach a plateau within a week or so. So what does that mean? That means that after a week the high and extremely calming effect of nicotine fades away, but instead leaves way for something much more useful. The residual effect left for each nicotine dose after on will last on for the rest of your life.

Many heavy smokers use 1 to 2 pack a day very steadily for the rest of their life. You never hear someone who smokes 10 packs a day and accidentally does an overdose. A pack generally contains 25 cigarettes and every cigarette around 1.5-2mg of nicotine. Despite the high availability of cigarettes and it’s addictive nature, overdose from cigarettes is unheard of. That is because past a certain point, every dose still does the trick and there is no point in taking more and the user knows it. There are few other drugs that has this property. Nicotine is very addictive, but is not a drug that has an abuse potential. Even chain smokers who smoke literally a cigarette after another such as Walt Disney don’t get problems related to nicotine, rather it’s the smoke who takes them, unfortunately. Replace the smoke with a lozenge, and you have something completely harmless; still addictive, but harmless.

As discussed earlier, almost everyone can benefit from using nicotine in their everyday lives, but the way cigarettes have been characterized in last century (and rightly so) and the fact that the main active ingredient in cigarettes is nicotine, the perception of nicotine by itself is distorted to say the least. The human mind is quick to make links, even if they’re wrong. Despite all of this, cigarettes remain legal. That’s fine of course, we live in a free society where is as long as you don’t harm other, you are free to do whatever you want. The problem is when you get advice from people who clearly don’t know what they’re talking about and think they should decide for you what is bad or not. The only way to know how nicotine works is the way one would approach anything, through reading and research.


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Hitting the right spot and Productivity

Hitting the right spot with nicotine can be a very difficult task depending who you are and if you have an addictive personality, but when done right nicotine has some of the most rewarding effects. Take 1 lozenges every 2 hours and your memory will improve, you will feel more coordinated, have better reaction time and overall much more productive.  You will be at the end of the day about to go to bed and think about your day and will be amazed at how much you have accomplished. Take 1 every 30 minutes and you will feel too relaxed, a bit sleepy and maybe start getting nauseous and this can take almost half an hour before you get back to base, and will then reject anymore nicotine. If you can learn to control yourself over time, it doesn’t have to be overnight, nicotine is an amazing tool. Nicotine is not Adderall but nevertheless if taken consistently, in a intelligent manner, over a certain period of time, your life will most certainly improve in almost every possible way. You know your body more than anyone else, and regardless of your weight, gender and tolerance, your mind is special in its own way. Some people need more, some less. Nicotine is harmless enough that you can run your small experiments and measure your own results.

A trick: When taking a lozenge, after the lozenge has dissolved in your mouth and you feel the nicotine has kicked in and starts working, do not chase that kick. Do not think you can take another lozenge to increase the kick and have more energy, this is extremely counter productive as nicotine doesn’t work like that. We make nicotine lozenge in candy flavors not so you binge on them, but to provide your mind with an incentive to take a sweet nicotine lozenge instead of smoking. You now have a perfectly healthy substitute that can be used all day long, but it must be done through regular intervals. As a general rule of thumb, 90-120 minutes works best for most.


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