The smoker’s high and its effects on your body

Woman vaping

New smokers experience the nicotine buzz the most. People who have quit smoking for a while and are starting to do so again also experience difficulties. Anyone who smokes or takes nicotine feels the nicotine buzz even if they don’t notice it.

The Nicotine Buzz: what is it?

Some of the immediate effects of the nicotine buzz are:

  1. Calm
  2. Pleasant feelings
  3. Feel relaxed and euphoric
  4. More focus and energy

The nicotine buzz: the long-term effects and the chemistry behind it

There are strong sensations that accompany the nicotine buzz. Here are some of the more subtle ways the nicotine buzz affects your body once you’ve come down from the high:

  1. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure
  2. It produces more glucose in your body
  3. It dulls your senses
  4. Decreases your appetite
  5. Lowers your skin temperature

Here is the process that produces the nicotine buzz:

  1. You take nicotine either by smoking a cigarette, chewing tobacco, or inhaling the nicotine vapor from the vape juice or e-liquid inside an e-cigarette.
  2. Nicotine only takes a few seconds to reach your brain.
  3. When it gets there, nicotine attaches itself to things called acetylcholine receptors. These receptors control dopamine levels in your body.
  4. Dopamine is released in your body, this is the start of the nicotine buzz.
  5. Serotonin is another pleasure-causing chemical that is released in your body by nicotine.

When dopamine and serotonin levels come down, and they do, you come down too. You feel tired and without energy. Your body wants more of all those good feelings, so you take some more nicotine and that’s how the nicotine addiction begins.

Does nicotine addiction have serious side effects? Yes, according to a study from the Indian Journal of Medical and Pediatric Oncology. It affects the health of the heart, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.

There have been studies that show a possible link to cancer, although this needs more research. Besides the buzz, nicotine is absorbed and metabolized by the liver. Once metabolized, it leads to the formation of certain carcinogens. Although much of it is excreted through sweat and urine, there is a high risk of cancer due to this.

In pursuit of high nicotine

vaping an e-cigarette
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If you’re a heavy smoker, the nicotine buzz is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning. You may already feel your body craving for nicotine. It’s part of the nicotine buzz. The pleasant calm that comes over you when you take a puff of nicotine is the cure for the craving and anxiety that nicotine addiction causes in your body.

Nicotine is both stimulating and sedative. It takes you up and then takes you down. If you’re a regular smoker, the nicotine buzz is probably something you plan for your day. You probably have specific times of the day when you know you’ll need a nicotine fix:

  1. Maybe with your morning coffee
  2. Before going to work
  3. Right after lunch

Then there are the things you don’t plan for. Maybe you get bad news and start to feel nervous or anxious, the nicotine buzz will calm you down. Maybe you’re arguing or arguing with someone and need to relax, the nicotine buzz comes to the rescue.

The thing is, you can use the nicotine buzz in so many different ways. You don’t care if smoking causes cancer or puts you at greater risk of stroke or heart attack. You don’t care whether your vape is the best vape or not.

You just want to feel better because there’s too much stress in your life. Of course, there are better ways to reduce stress, if a nicotine addiction is the path a person takes, it’s best not to take a cigarette to get that balance. Vaping is not without risks, but there are scientific opinions that vaping may be far less dangerous than smoking. De-demonizing nicotine after decades of anti-tobacco campaigns is a bit of a challenge.

And the pendulum seems to swing towards nicotine as a mild addiction, similar to caffeine, as long as it’s not ingested in the form of tobacco. However, there is an ongoing debate as to whether nicotine is indeed benign.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a nicotine buzz last?

There is no single answer to this question because it all depends on the person who smokes or vapes. Usually the nicotine buzz comes on quickly and fades quickly. New smokers or those who smoke socially may experience a buzz for only a few minutes.

However, people who smoke or vape frequently may experience a longer buzz that lasts twenty to thirty minutes after their first cigarette of the day.

Yet each new cigarette causes less and less of the desired effects as the body’s receptors fill with nicotine. Other cigarettes throughout the day are smoked because a habit has developed. Also, the smoker tries to maintain blood nicotine levels.

Why does nicotine stop buzzing?

Regular users develop a tolerance to the effects of nicotine because the receptors in the brain are always replenished, which prevents smokers from experiencing a buzz. Once they are full, smoking more will not cause more dopamine to be released.

Smoking more will only make the person sick. Addicts continue to smoke to keep the buzz going by keeping the levels of nicotine in their bloodstream at an optimal level.

Can you get a nicotine buzz while vaping?

Nicotine works the same way no matter how it enters the body. If the user has never smoked or vaped, they will likely experience a buzz until the receivers are full. A person who habitually smoked in the past probably won’t experience a buzz unless their nicotine intake is significantly reduced by vaping or smoking less often.

That’s why so many smokers crave their first cigarette of the day. After sleeping through the night, they have no more nicotine in their bodies, so they are more receptive to the effects.

Is nicotine gum giving you a buzz?

The same rule applies to nicotine gum as for smoking and vaping. The less a person who quits smoking becomes addicted to nicotine, the more likely they are to experience a buzz.

However, a person who usually uses nicotine should not experience a buzz because the receptors in the body are always filled with nicotine.

On the other hand, someone who has never smoked or vaped and decides to chew gum will undoubtedly experience a buzz, followed by feelings of nausea.

Does a nicotine buzz help you sleep?

Although nicotine is a stimulant, it can help people feel relaxed and calmer. Someone who feels nervous and anxious before bed may not be able to sleep without smoking a cigarette first.


Sure, the nicotine buzz makes you feel better, but it puts your health at risk. Here are some ways to beat the craving for the nicotine buzz:

  1. Breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths increases the oxygen levels in your blood, which makes you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
  2. Drink water. The worst part about the nicotine buzz is that it becomes a habit, so replace that habit with something else. Drinking water is an easy way to avoid the nicotine buzz. It’s good for you and it helps you avoid smoking.
  3. Exercise/go for a walk. Maybe you need to get rid of all that nervous energy. Instead of looking for your pack of cigarettes, go outside for some fresh air. Exercise, even a brisk walk, increases your blood circulation.

Stress is inevitable in life. How we treat it is what’s important. This may be more difficult to do than simply pick up a cigarette or vaporizer, but beating stress without nicotine is achievable with enough discipline.

Even though there is not yet extensive research on whether vaping is much safer than cigarettes, it is still best to try to reduce the nicotine in your life in some way. If the use of vaporizers is intended to quit smoking, the end goal should be to wean off vaping at some point to completely quit nicotine.


Jeffrey Buckley

I was a smoker for over 25 years. Around this time, I also completed my medical degree with a specialization in addiction treatment and counselling. This period brought me to vaping, my interest started around 2011. I fight the wave of hysteria and misinformation around vaping that comes from various legislative, cultural and scientific fronts. Having the support of scientific advice, I am happy to contribute my thoughts, my articles and my expertise.

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