Nicotine withdrawal duration

The duration of nicotine withdrawal varies by person. Nicotine withdrawal can last from days to weeks to months. We offer a basic nicotine withdrawal timeline here.

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Nicotine withdrawal sucks.

If you have quit nicotine before, then you know that some of the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine can be unpleasant. But you can get through it!

Withdrawal symptoms are strongest in the first 7 days after quitting, but can persist for months later. For most people the worst of withdrawal symptoms only last a few days to a couple weeks. Here, we present a timeline for an average nicotine withdrawal period so that you can know what to expect. Your questions, comments and vents are welcomed at the bottom.

The first day

Nicotine withdrawal begins 20 minutes after your last dose of nicotine. Strongest cravings for nicotine usually occur first thing in the morning, as the body has been without nicotine for hours while sleeping. Withdrawal is THE sign that your body and brain are getting used to the absence of nicotine.

Cravings usually begin within an hour or two after you have your last cigarette, peak for several days, and may last several weeks. Because most people slip up in the first days to week after stopping, plan nicotine withdrawal help for withdrawal symptoms of nicotine during this period to increase the odds that you stay stopped.

The first week

When you quit using nicotine, withdrawal symptoms are strongest in the first 7 days after you quit. Many people just can’t handle how they feel after they quit and start smoking or using tobacco again to feel better. Some common physical symptoms present during this time are usually:

  • constipation
  • decreased heart rate
  • difficulty thinking
  • headache
  • increased appetite
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea

However, mental symptoms can also be present. Feelings of anxiety, irritability, anger, or depression can feed into cravings to use nicotine. In fact, many people describe the urge to use nicotine during first week of quitting as an almost physical craving for the drug. Using medicines to help manage withdrawal symptoms such as cravings can get you over the hump. Even without medication, withdrawal symptoms do subside over time.

The second week

During the second week off nicotine, physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal tend to subside. However, habitual cravings and urges to use nicotine are still present. Many people, places, events, moods and things can trigger the behavioral urge to use nicotine. It is important that you know how to handle these triggers and have a plan for managing strong urges to use nicotine. The more resources you have during this time, the better. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get personalized help quitting, support and coping strategies, and referrals to resources and local cessation programs.

The third week and on…

The physical symptoms acute nicotine withdrawal usually only last a few weeks. The symptoms that persist for weeks to months after you quit nicotine are urges and cravings to use nicotine. In most cases, urges do not disappear until you practice resisting them for many times. As the days pass, the cravings for nicotine will get farther apart. Occasional mild cravings may last for 6 months.

Questions about nicotine withdrawal duration

Withdrawal symptoms are usually worst during the first week after quitting. From that point on, the intensity usually drops over the first month. However, everyone is different, and some people have withdrawal symptoms for several months after quitting.

If you have questions about coming off nicotine, or need support…please leave us a message below. We answer all legitimate concerns with a personal and prompt response. Plus, we can do research to help you find answers to your questions. Just know that you are not alone! And you can do it!

Reference sources: Forever Free: A guide to remaining smoke free, Coping with Urges
Smoke Free [dot] gov
CDC Smoking and Tobacco Use: How to Quit
National Cancer Institute: How To Handle Withdrawal Symptoms and Triggers When You Decide To Quit Smoking
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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