Nicotine is not the dangerous component of smoking. It’s the other chemicals in cigarette smoke that cause heart disease and cancer. The most important thing to know is that quitting smoking is what improves health, not quitting nicotine. Nicotine can have positive effects when not attached to tobacco.
Nicotine improves fine motor skills, attention, working memory, and even on-demand memory performance. It is well-known that “Poor cognitive performance (e.g., attention and memory) predicts relapse among smokers who are attempting to quit smoking, which suggests that targeting cognitive-enhancement may be an effective treatment strategy.” Many people quit because they miss the benefits of nicotine. It is no wonder that many people relapse in the first 8 days after quitting. They not only miss smoking but they miss the sharpness that smoking gave them. Nicotine will improve your concentration and help you stay the course.
Nicotine replacements also reduces the cravings that come with quitting cold turkey. This uncouples the addictive part of smoking with the dangerous part of smoking (the chemicals in the smoke). NRT allows smokers to break the habits or “ritual” of smoking without getting the symptoms that come with nicotine withdrawal (irritability, distraction, etc.).
That is why nicotine gum is so helpful, especially in the early days, and why so many doctors recommend using it on a consistent basis.
This information is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.