Nicotine - why no OD?

I’ve heard that if a person is quitting smoking by using “the patch”, that they shouldn’t smoke, because they can have reactions to too much nicotine.

Why is it that a person can smoke a pack a day or 4 packs a day without this reaction, but using the patch and smoking will? Just how much nicotine are those things delivering?

You ever smoke to much? whoa, it can knock you down.
One time as a joke, I put a wad of Skoal in my mouth and smoked a cig and a pipe all at the same time. Made me VERY lighted headed, so much so that I couldn’t even finish. So, bottum line is, I dont know if you can OD on nicotine(probably), but it certainly has some nasty side effects in large amounts.

A nicotine OD will kill you. However, it’s nearly impossible to for an adult to OD on nicotine by putting tobacco in his mouth, especially when the nicotine is being eliminated from the body at the enhanced rate found in smokers. The nicotine patch is a completely different pathway, and it just adds on to whatever you take in by mouth/lungs.

This reminds me of an Agatha Christy story where the murder was commited by nicotine overdose. IIRC, the dose of nicotine needed to kill someone is quite high compared to the amount a person get through a cigarette.

Wow, a little googling and I found this

From this cite.

I would guess that nicotine has to be broken down by the body rather rapidly. I say that because I know people who smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a day, which would = 180 mg of nicotine a day (3mg * 60 smokes). While they can’t run very far they are not dead.


According to HIT MAN the lethal dose was at least 40mg, and a good way to poison someone because much of it left the body before the body was even found.

I think that the concern with patches + smoking is that the patches deliver a constant “maintenance” dose of nicotine. Smoking at the same time would add a sudden jolt of nicotine which could trigger a heart attack or stroke in those who are susceptible (eg just the sort of long-term smoker who would be trying to give up using a patch in the first place).

Apparently there is enough nicotine in a cigarette to kill an adult human. The pure nicotine sulphate can be extracted. Sorry no cite.

The act of burning the tobacco degrades and dissipates the great proportion of the poison in a cigarette. With this slow rate of introduction to the body, one would get very sick before one had a chance to OD.

If ingested, say with chewing tobacco, an overdose is fortunately prevented by convulsive vomiting. A subcutaneous introduction of the poison is another matter.

A smoker can withstand more, since their nervous system has adjusted to deal with the presence of the nicotine.

Just a point of terminology. Patches act transdermally, which is not an exact synonym for subcutaneously. (i.e. through the skin rather than under the skin).

Criteria for Hospital Admission After Acute Nicotine Ingestion

Good evening you old sea cow. :slight_smile:

Yes, I know the difference between the two terms. I had forgotten the op had mentioned patches by the time I got to the end of my post.

A subcutaneous administration of the poison would be much more effective than transdermal and transdermal would be much more effective than oral and oral more effective than inhalation of smoke.

Do you know if the patches have a carrier like DMSO added?

Transdermal patches frequently contain surfactants like DMSO. I don’t know off-hand whether nicotine patches do. I can’t think of any specific reason why they wouldn’t.