Why do People Up-Dose?
Since nicotine pouch products are relatively new, there is somewhat of a lack of guidance when it comes to the proper use of them, especially compared to snus – the tobacco-containing alternative to nicotine pouches that have been around since the 18th century. As a result of this, and with many new nicotine pouch brands emerging with enticing can designs and an influx of products extreme in mg/pouch strength, many new users seek the thrill of a bigger buzz, unbeknown to the risks.
The online snus community, active on platforms such as Reddit and YouTube, are rather cautious when it comes to nicotine strengths. There is more etiquette in the use of snus compared to nicotine pouches, with most users reporting that snus is for the taste and aroma, not for the buzz. Snus use appears to be more of a sophisticated activity in a sense, with most snus that is highly regarded being much lower in strength than one would expect, and the quality of the product being judged by can design, flavour, aroma, and mouthfeel, rather than just potency.
Whilst there is no real research on why some nicotine pouch users choose to up-dose, the following reasons may serve as potential explanations:
- Buzz Chasing – ‘Buzz chasing’ or ‘chasing a buzz’ refers to a nicotine pouch user using pouches to get a buzz, rather than to satisfy nicotine cravings, quit smoking or vaping, or to enjoy the experience. A ‘buzz’ is the rush of nicotine felt from high concentrations of nicotine in a pouch or using multiple nicotine pouches at once, that has not been felt before. Since the user seeks out stronger products than they have tried before, they have no tolerance to such a level of nicotine, meaning that they feel a new stimulus in the form of a buzz that is overwhelming and exciting. The problem here is that these users will set their tolerance level to very high, limiting their ability to enjoy regular strength products and making them dependent on dangerously high levels of nicotine.
- Increased Availability of Extremely High Strength Products – Many new nicotine pouch products are being released with dangerously high levels of nicotine. These products can contain up to 120mg of nicotine and are often unregulated. New users of nicotine pouches may be introduced to these dangerous products and think that they are the norm, and after a single-use, shoot their tolerance level to super high. This issue is not helped by the enticing can designs, tempting new users to try such products, and are often marketed with flavours that may appeal to younger people.
Why is Up-Dosing a Bad Idea?
You should never up-dose, especially if you value your health and want to use nicotine pouches safely and in the long term. Here are some reasons to avoid up-dosing.
- Tolerance Issues – Using very strong pouches regularly will increase your tolerance to such a high level that you will only feel the effects of very strong pouches. Whilst it is ok to occasionally use a stronger pouch, as and when you need one, it is not advised to use super-strength or extreme regularly. Read more about pouch strength rotation in our previous article ‘A Guide to Nicotine Strengths’ here.
- Health Issues – Regular use of high concentration nicotine products increases the potential negative health outcomes associated with nicotine. Read more about the negative effects of nicotine in our previous article ‘Nicotine – The Science’ here.
- Increased Nicotine Dependence – Almost all users of nicotine pouch products will be dependent on nicotine. However, those that regularly use high strength products and continue to increase the nicotine mg/pouch will develop a stronger dependence on nicotine. An increased nicotine dependence leads the user to have to use more nicotine pouches throughout the day, of higher strength and therefore increases health risks and makes quitting far tougher.
- Increased Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms – If you have ever been through nicotine withdrawal, you will know that it is often a very uncomfortable experience. Withdrawing from light or regular pouches can be debilitating enough, so the withdrawal from pouches very high in strength is much more severe. Having a high blood nicotine concentration, followed by a decline to zero from extremely strong pouches makes for a rough ride in sticking the withdrawal process out.
How Can I Reduce my Dose?
If after reading this article you think that you are up-dosing, do not stress, as there are ways in which you can free yourself of this cycle.
- Gradually Reduce mg/pouch Strength – You can ease the withdrawal from consistently high nicotine pouch use by gradually implementing pouches of a lower dose into your daily use. The key term here is gradual, as going from 30mg/pouch to 3mg/pouch is going to be very uncomfortable. In your next order, pick up a variety of strengths and begin to experiment. If you are a consistent user of, say, 25mg/pouch products, consider using your 25mg pouch in the morning, then taper down to 20mg midday, and further, to 15mg in the evening. Repeat this process until you get satisfaction from a lower strength pouch. This does not mean that you can never use a strong pouch again, but getting out of the habit of using such products as daily drivers can be very beneficial.
- Space Out Your Pouch Use – Rather than constantly bombarding your body with nicotine, space out the use of your pouches throughout the day. This will naturally reduce your nicotine dependence to very strong products and make the switch to more sustainable strengths less arduous. If you can, try to only use a pouch when you need to, or, set a timer for your next dose. Once your dependence on high strength products has dipped, you can then try to lower your dose. If you struggle with the lack of sensation under the lip when spacing out your pouch use, consider using a zero nicotine pouch for a placebo effect. Zero nicotine pouches also contain caffeine and vitamins, amongst other energy providing ingredients, which may help you through to the next nicotine dose. Shop Zero here.
- Look to Enjoy Other Aspects of Nicotine Pouches – Another way to prevent up-dosing is to try to enjoy other aspects of nicotine pouches, rather than just their strength. Flavour, can design, portion material, aroma, and different brands are all examples of other things to be excited about aside from mg/pouch values.
The Take Home Message
When it comes to safe, sensible and sustainable nicotine pouch use, less is more! Enjoy stronger pouches as and when you need them, but try and keep to one sensible strength for the most part.