Duration of Nicotine Withdrawal

Duration of Nicotine Withdrawal

Quitting nicotine can produce uncomfortable symptoms and withdrawal is unpleasant. It is possible to overcome nicotine withdrawal. Symptoms are strongest in the first 7 days following the last smoke. Most individuals experience the worst withdrawal symptoms a few days to a few weeks after quitting. Explore the following timeline to learn about the average withdrawal period for nicotine and what to expect.


First Day

Nicotine withdrawal begins 20 minutes after the last dose of nicotine. Strong cravings for nicotine usually occur first thing in the morning as the body has been without nicotine for hours without sleeping. Withdrawal is the main sign a person’s body and brain are getting used to the absence of nicotine. Cravings begin and hour or two after the last cigarette and may peak for several days or last several weeks. Most people slip up in the first few days to a week after quitting but drawing up a plan to quit can increase odds of kicking the habit for good.


First Week

When a person quits nicotine, withdrawal is strongest in the first 7 days. Many people have a hard time the first week and relapse. Some common physical symptoms which may be present during the first week include:

  • Constipation
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Headache
  • Increased appetite
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea


Mental symptoms may also rise up including the following:

  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Use of medicine to help manage withdrawal


Second Week

During the second week off of nicotine, physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal tend to subside. Habitual cravings and urges to use nicotine may still be present. Many people, places, events, moods and other things trigger behavioral urges to use nicotine. Learning how to handle triggers and developing a plan can help manage urges that come up to use nicotine. The more resources a person has during this time, the better chances are of success.


Moving Forward

Physical symptoms of acute nicotine withdrawal only last a few weeks. Symptoms may persist for weeks to months after last cigarette while urges and cravings to use abate. In most cases, urges do not disappear until a person practices resistance for some time. Cravings will get further apart and eventually subside.


People who wish to quit smoking are able to access resources in the community and online. Hotlines, patches and other means of helping people quit smoking exist but the desire to quit has to come from the individual. Smoking can have severe health consequences long term and it is in the best interest of people who smoke to quit before major health issues arise. With the right help and support of loved ones, it is possible to kick the habit and find a new, positive and healthy way of living which does not include smoking.


Smoking cessation programs are one way to quit smoking. The Villa has resources and tools to support your in kicking the habit for good. Contact us for further details on how we can help guide you on this journey to quit smoking.