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Nicotine is the active ingredient in tobacco and one of the most addictive drugs known to man.

Nicotine has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine and even heroin. Nicotine is used medicinally to treat ulcerative colitis, breast cancer among women with the high risk BRCA gene, Kaposi's sarcoma, schizophrenia, and asthma. Nicotine is also used to treat headaches.

It is a pyrodlidine alkaloid found in the plants of the Solanacae family, especially the tobacco plant. Its chemical formula is C10H14N2. It was first isolated by the German chemists Poiselt and Riemann. When it comes into the body's system it is absorbed into the bloodstream as continine, which remains in the system for 48 to 96 hours.

Addictive properties of nicotine

The faster nicotine reaches a smoker's brain, the bigger the drug rush.

Nicotine exists in two chemical forms:

  • the "bound" form, which the body has trouble absorbing.
  • the "free" form, which passes instantly through the mouth, throat and lungs and into the bloodstream.

Free nicotine reaches the brain faster ... gives the smoker a more addictive "kick."

JSTOR: Tobacco Control, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Autumn, 1998), pp. 315-319