Last updated: November 27th, 2019 This article reveals the ADHD nicotine truths that need to be told. Because for too long, nicotine has had a pretty negative reputation (thanks to tobacco).
Nicotine might not be perfect. Because to be perfectly honest, nicotine is extremely addictive.
But, in some cases nicotine might be used as a legitimate tool to temporarily relieve certain aspects of ADHD.
Best of all, nicotine can also be used relatively safely.
No cigarettes or tobacco required.
What exactly is nicotine?
Nicotine is a powerful alkaloid and stimulant drug that’s commonly found in nicotiana tabacum, which is also known as the ‘tobacco’ plant.
Yes, nicotine is highly-addictive. But it isn’t thought to be harmful either. Nicotine is similar to caffeine in this respect.
Keep in mind that using nicotine is not the same as smoking cigarettes. In this article, I’m generally referring to using mint nicotine gum (Amazon) or nicotine lozenges (Amazon) as a source of nicotine.
You also have to be at least 18 years of age to consume nicotine products in most U.S. states.
What are the potential health benefits of using nicotine to assist with ADHD?
Many people with ADHD naturally flock to using nicotine because it can stimulate the senses and calm the mind at the same time.
Nicotine temporarily helps people with ADHD feel more engaged with work, education, and other activities that might be difficult to concentrate on (think ‘boring’ tasks).
For a quick scientific breakdown of nicotine’s benefits, let’s refer to Wikipedia.
According to Wikipedia:
Nicotine’s mood-altering effects are different by report: in particular it is both a stimulant and a relaxant. First causing a release of glucose from the liver and epinephrine (adrenaline) from the adrenal medulla, it causes stimulation. Users report feelings of relaxation, sharpness, calmness, and alertness.
Let’s just say that nicotine acts on your adrenal glands and causes you to feel more relaxed and alert for a short period of time. To put it even more simply, nicotine may temporarily lessen your symptoms of ADHD.
In addition to these benefits of using nicotine for ADHD, some research also indicates that…
- Nicotine may help to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease
- Nicotine and its metabolites could potentially help to treat Parkinson’s disease
- Non-smokers feel less symptoms of depression after using nicotine
Is there merit to the idea that nicotine can temporarily help with certain ADHD symptoms?
You bet there is.
Are there any downsides to using nicotine for ADHD?
While the short-term benefits of using nicotine to help with certain ADHD symptoms sounds good, not all of nicotine’s side effects are glamorous.
One study conducted by the University of Vermont actually found good and bad things about using nicotine patches to treat adolescents with ADHD.
The good findings:
Our research indicates that both nicotine and Ritalin improve inhibition, and, in fact, bring the performance of adolescents with ADHD into the range of normal adolescence. We believe that this is related to the effect of nicotine on dopamine in the brain.
The bad findings:
But nicotine itself isn’t the therapy of choice. The amount of nicotine needed to get positive effects in ADHD patients is close to a level that produces negative side effects. Our hope is to help develop better therapeutics that may work similarly to nicotine without its side effects.
While there’s a heaping pile of evidence that indicates nicotine can benefit ADHD sufferers in the short term, there’s also a clear downside.
Nicotine needs to be taken in significant quantities to treat ADHD symptoms effectively (according to this one study). And even then, the problems that come with taking large quantities of nicotine become more apparent.
For instance, if you start to crave nicotine, you might also experience headaches, increased anxiety, irritability and similar issues.
I personally view the downsides of using nicotine as a sign that you shouldn’t become dependent on nicotine.
Instead, nicotine is best used as a short-term solution for occasional ADHD symptom relief.
Should people with ADHD use nicotine?
If you have willpower, you can get away with using nicotine on occasion.
You just have to be smart about using it, so that you don’t become dependent on the substance.
In my experience, people with ADHD can ultimately benefit from using nicotine situationally.
For example, you may want to use nicotine:
- While you’re giving an important presentation at work
- In the final 30 minutes of taking a test
- During a mandatory work meeting that happens once a month
It’s also important that nicotine is used as a complement to your life after you’ve implemented fundamental healthy habits.
It’s obviously still a good idea to use a high-quality ADHD medication, eat healthy food and exercise regularly.
If you practice healthy habits like these, then using nicotine to occasionally treat ADHD symptoms isn’t going to do any real harm in most cases.
What about smokers who have ADHD?
It’s extremely common for people with ADHD to smoke cigarettes.
If you have ADHD, and you smoke cigarettes, it’s recommended that you switch to using one of the following nicotine replacement therapies which are now considered significantly safer than smoking cigarettes:
Nicotine gum (Amazon) is the most common nicotine product available.
It’s typically used by smokers who want to stop smoking cigarettes.
However, it’s becoming more common for ordinary people to use nicotine as a performance enhancer.
So, nicotine gum can be considered an excellent smart drug or nootropic for those with great self-control.
Nicotine lozenges (Amazon) are another nice option for responsible adults with ADHD who may want to enjoy nicotine on occasion.
Lozenges are similar to hard candies that taste like mint.
Some smokers with ADHD find nicotine patches (Amazon) to be the ideal method of using nicotine.
These transdermal patches make it easy to slap one on your arm, and then go about your day as you normally would.
Nicotine patches are also convenient for discreetly using nicotine while you work.
How much nicotine can people with ADHD use?
As long as you’re using nicotine sporadically, and you can exercise control over your nicotine usage, it’s recommended that you use 1-2mg of nicotine in the form of a gum, lozenge or patch.
I personally enjoy chewing nicotine gum a few times per week.
As an ex-smoker, I also still miss smoking a cigarette while drinking coffee in the morning.
So now, I occasionally chew a piece of nicotine gum with my morning coffee instead.
You might have to experiment to find the nicotine dosage that works best for you.
ADHD Nicotine Hack Conclusion
Overall, I hope this guide sheds some light on the reality of using nicotine to treat ADHD symptoms.
For too long, people have ignored nicotine as a potential option to temporarily relieve ADHD symptoms.
But, with more and more research being conducted, it’s clear that some people find great temporary relief from ADHD by using nicotine gum (Amazon) responsibly.
If you decide to use nicotine to occasionally treat your ADHD symptoms, just make sure to:
- Maintain self-discipline and preferably don’t get into a daily habit of using nicotine
- Use nicotine situationally, when you feel like it will be most appropriate to use (for important meetings, speaking engagements, presentations etc.)
- Keep nicotine away from kids
- Remember to focus on the bigger picture of living a healthy lifestyle with ADHD through exercise, diet, sleep and positive relationships
- If you smoke, it’s in your best interest to start using nicotine gum (or a similar nicotine replacement therapy) immediately
I look forward to hearing about your experiences with ADHD and nicotine. Your stories and comments are much appreciated.
Please leave your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.