If you use nicotine pouches or other nicotine products and have heard people talking about getting a "buzz," you may be wondering if there really is such a thing. How does nicotine use contribute to this feeling? How does it differ from person to person?
Here is more about what we call “buzz” and whether it’s possible to get one when using nicotine pouches.
What is a nicotine buzz?
When people talk about a nicotine buzz, they are generally referring to the feeling they get when using nicotine pouches. Not surprisingly, nicotine isn’t the only way to get this response. People may talk of the same thing when referring to drinking coffee or even when consuming sugar.
No matter the cause, our body responds to the things it consumes because of its connection with the brain.
How does the “buzz” work?
The brain uses chemical messengers to communicate. They are called neurotransmitters, and each has a distinct role in carrying messages throughout the body by communicating between the neurons and cells. Each one also reacts to different things, which means not all are triggered at once (which is a good thing!).
Nicotine activates specific receptors found in the peripheral and central nervous systems called “nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.” Nicotine interacts with these nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by binding to them and triggering a release of neurotransmitters. From there, however, it’s not completely known how nicotine affects the brain, nervous system, and other systems.
It’s assumed that it increases acetylcholine release, which may boost cognitive function, at least for a time, and help people feel focused. It may also make some people feel alert or aroused through increased norepinephrine. Its interaction with various systems may ultimately affect areas of the body such as the adrenal glands, which create adrenaline and can produce that feeling of a rush or "buzz."
Can you build up a nicotine tolerance?
Every human body is different, and some people are simply more sensitive to nicotine than others. It may take longer for one person to feel a buzz, while another may need very little nicotine to get that rush.
If you’ve ever smoked for a time, you know that you can eventually feel less of a buzz from the same number of cigarettes. That’s one of the reasons why people eventually switch to products like nicotine pouches. If you enjoy the buzz of a certain amount of nicotine but don't want to subject your body to the tobacco or tar found in cigarettes, nicotine pouches can help create that same boost.
Scientists do think that repeated nicotine use can cause the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors to become less sensitive over time and that your brain may actually create more of them as a response. This may be why, if you use nicotine regularly and then stop, you could feel a crash, loss of energy and lack of focus as your brain adapts to not having nicotine.
What’s the difference between a hit and a buzz?
Have you heard someone refer to a “hit” in regard to using nicotine pouches? They are simply referring to the next use of the product in an effort to re-up their nicotine levels and give those nicotine acetylcholine receptors some interaction. People who crave nicotine may use this language in between uses, and it’s one of the reasons why it’s quite difficult to quit smoking.
When a product like a nicotine pouch is then used, those receptors are activated, messages are sent, and the body's response kicks in. Someone may feel a variety of things, from the pleasant satisfaction of a dopamine boost to the relaxation that comes from endorphins. For others, it's the glutamate that they react to the most, experiencing possible focus and sharper memory for a time.
All of these feelings, including the focus, calm, and a boost in mood, can be what people refer to when they say they have a "buzz." However, each person's biological makeup is a bit different, so the buzz will mean different things to different people.
How long does it take to feel a buzz?
It may take longer for a more seasoned nicotine user to feel a buzz, because they may be accustomed to the feeling or even be slower to respond. Someone coming back to nicotine use after a long time away can feel a buzz much quicker.
Nicotine is one of the substances that travels quite quickly through the bloodstream, reaching the brain and nervous system within seconds for some and minutes for others.
How much nicotine do you need?
Nicotine pouch strength plays a factor in how long it takes to experience a buzz and how it ultimately makes you feel. While the nicotine pouch slowly releases the nicotine over a period of an hour or more, a pouch with a higher nicotine concentration could produce a quicker or even bigger buzz. This is one of the reasons why there is such a wide variety of options on the market today for nicotine pouches.
Someone who doesn’t need that much nicotine to be satisfied should be able to choose just what they need and nothing more. Likewise, someone who has been a long-time smoker making the switch to nicotine pouches may prefer higher strength pouches. They may help maintain the pleasurable experience the person seeks—without the side effects associated with tobacco.