Nicotine withdrawal timeline and symptoms after quitting smoking
When you stop taking nicotine whether through smoking cigarettes or vaping you will suffer withdrawal as with any drug. This page explains why, what you can expect and how bad smoking withdrawal or more correctly nicotine withdrawal will be.
- What is nicotine withdrawal?
- Nicotine withdrawal symptoms
- When does nicotine withdrawal start?
- How long does nicotine withdrawal last?
- Nicotine withdrawal timeline?
- What are the stages of withdrawal? Mental & Physical
- Free online consultation
- Free videos and articles
- Other useful stop smoking articles & news
What is Nicotine or Smoking Withdrawal?
When tobacco smoke or vapour is inhaled, nicotine is absorbed through the wall lining of the lungs. When sniffed or chewed it is absorbed through the nose or mouth. It is also possible to absorb it through the skin.
However it is absorbed, it enters the bloodstream and circulates around the body to the brain. When smoked it reaches the brain in about seven seconds1.
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms – what does nicotine withdrawal feel like?
Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms can be broken into two different categories. You might assume that those would be physical and psychological, but in fact all the really unpleasant symptoms that smokers experience when they quit are caused by a mental process, rather than the physical withdrawal from nicotine.
The mental process is triggered by physical withdrawal, but that withdrawal is so slight – it’s almost imperceptible.
Side Effects of Nicotine Withdrawal
The actual physical withdrawal from nicotine is a very mild, slightly empty, insecure feeling. It’s so mild that most smokers don’t even notice it throughout their smoking lives.
The physical feelings that the slight feeling of withdrawal trigger are caused by the process a smoker has gone through whilst becoming addicted. They believe that smoking helps them to relax, cope with stress, socialise, concentrate and focus, enjoy drinking or enjoying a meal, and even after sex. It is this belief that has a smoker who is using willpower to quit experience awful panic, anxiety, upset, and irritability.
As a smoker goes through the various stages of quitting nicotine using willpower – the symptoms get worse and worse and include all of the above, as well as sleeplessness, and a feeling of doom and gloom.
The great news is that Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking method ensures that the former smoker doesn’t suffer any of those negative signs of nicotine withdrawal. In fact, the physical effects of quitting nicotine are entirely positive, as are the mental ones, as long as you use the right method to quit.
Most smokers, even really heavy ones, don’t even experience so much as a nicotine headache.
The stages of nicotine withdrawal cease to be a minefield or obstacle course and instead become like a walk in the park.
Tobacco withdrawal, even for chain-smokers or chain-vapers, really isn’t a problem as long as you know how to stop smoking without feeling deprived.
When does nicotine withdrawal start?
Nicotine is a drug and whatever method you use to take it whether smoking or vaping you will experience withdrawal.
Cigarette withdrawal or more accurately nicotine withdrawal begins as soon as a cigarette is extinguished, nicotine starts to withdraw from the body and the smoker can experience physical and mental symptoms.
Nicotine withdrawal is the result of the first ever cigarette a nicotine addict smoked.
It is momentarily “relieved” by the next cigarette.
The brain concludes, non-consciously, “next time you feel nicotine withdrawal – do that again!”.
In other words, the behaviour of lighting a cigarette in response to experiencing nicotine withdrawal is reinforced every time a smoker lights a cigarette or has a vape regardless of the fact that the next cigarette or vape will also cause nicotine withdrawal.
How long does nicotine withdrawal last?
How long does it take for your body to stop craving nicotine?
Most of the nicotine leaves the body over the following 48 hours until, after a maximum of 3 weeks there are no traces left.
This is why the first few days after quitting smoking can be among the toughest when the cravings first begin and can be most intense. However, with Allen Carr’s Easyway this should not be the case because there is no sense of loss or feeling that you are giving up something that you really want and need.
Whether a smoker is in a happy situation, a concentration situation, a sad situation, a stress situation, a relaxing situation, a boring situation, or a lonely situation they simultaneously experience nicotine withdrawal, and respond by lighting a cigarette or having a vape, thereby immediately feeling better than a moment before and oblivious to the fact that that cigarette or vape will perpetuate nicotine withdrawal once it is smoked or vaped.
It’s no wonder they think nicotine helps them to be happy or to concentrate, or to cope with sadness and stress, and to help them relax or cope with boredom or loneliness! It’s got nothing to do with genuine pleasure or genuine improvement of mood. And every single time they light a cigarette in one of those situations – the brain concludes, non-consciously, “next time that happens – do that again!” hence the craving.
Non-smokers don’t have to deal with any of the mental and physical aggravation of being addicted to nicotine. They don’t suffer nicotine poisoning, nicotine withdrawal or the aberrational/unnatural impact nicotine has on dopamine and their behaviour.
All a smoker or vaper is trying to achieve when they light a cigarette or have a vape is to recapture the feeling of peace, calm, tranquillity and completeness they enjoyed their entire lives before they lit their first experimental cigarette or vaped for the first time. In other words – a smoker smokes in order to feel like a non-smoker and a vaper vapes in order to feel like a non-vaper.
Once a nicotine addict understands Allen Carr’s Easyway we explain how nicotine addiction, irrespective of nicotine’s influence on dopamine levels, is actually extremely mild, and that the really unpleasant symptoms a nicotine addict suffers when they try to quit without Easyway’s help, are the result of a mental struggle. That struggle or craving is caused by the nicotine addict feeling deprived of what they think is a genuine pleasure or crutch.
Easyway goes on to reveal how the nicotine addict’s belief system surrounding the drug, that it helps them to relax, socialize, handle stress, concentrate, enjoy alcohol, take a break from work, and so on, is illusory and based on misinformation, misinterpretation of personal experiences, and their addiction to nicotine.
The smoker then concludes that there aren’t any factual advantages or benefits to be obtained from nicotine and therefore there is no point in doing it. This effectively destroys the belief that they need the drug/smoking/nicotine and simultaneously removes the “want to smoke/vape” which ends/cures/stops/destroys/neutralises the addiction.
This leaves the smoker to handle the extremely mild symptoms of nicotine withdrawal without having to experience the discomfort of feeling that they are missing out on something they used to enjoy or receive benefit from.
This is hugely important as the former smoker develops new responses to any habitual triggers to smoke over the first few weeks of being a happy non-smoker. For example, if they used to light a cigarette as they left work in the afternoon, that might be a moment when the thought of smoking crosses their mind, but once they quit with Easyway, instead of consciously processing thoughts and feelings of loss, they process thoughts and feelings of release and freedom.
In fact nicotine addiction is at least as addictive as heroin and cocaine as per the US Surgeon General2.
Smoking & Nicotine Withdrawal Timeline
Many believe that smoking, tobacco or nicotine withdrawal is difficult and unpleasant stage of quitting smoking, that there will be nicotine headaches and clear signs of nicotine withdrawal such as mood swings, difficulty concentrating and anxiety. This belief would create a tremendous fear of quitting smoking and vaping for anyone, but withdrawal is not as bad as people fear.
You may be surprised that nicotine addiction is 1% physical and 99% mental.
The reality is that smokers go into withdrawal whenever they put out a cigarette. Smokers sleep through physical nicotine withdrawal every night when they go to sleep but it’s so mild that it doesn’t even wake them up!
It is the mental addiction that causes the physical feelings and these are caused by the process a smoker has gone through whilst becoming addicted. These may include that smoking helps the smoker/vaper to relax, cope with stress, socialise, concentrate and focus, enjoy drinking or enjoying a meal, and even after sex. It is this belief that has a smoker who is using willpower to quit experience awful panic, anxiety, upset, and irritability.
As a smoker goes through the various stages of quitting smoking using willpower – the symptoms get worse and worse and include all of the above, as well as sleeplessness, and a feeling of doom and gloom.
The great news is that Allen Carr’s Easyway method ensures that the former smoker doesn’t suffer any of those negative signs of nicotine withdrawal.
In fact, the physical effects of quitting nicotine are entirely positive, as are the mental ones, as long as you use the right method to quit.
Stages of nicotine withdrawal
When do nicotine withdrawal physical symptoms stop and what is the nicotine withdrawal symptoms timeline?
|Once the cigarette is put out||A very mild, slightly empty, insecure feeling but so mild you sleep through it every night|
|2 hours||50% nicotine free|
|6 hours||97% nicotine free|
|24-48 hours||Nicotine free|
When do nicotine withdrawal mental symptoms stop
|Time||Allen Carr’s Easyway||Willpower|
|Immediate||No withdrawal – no feeling of deprivation or loss so no mental feelings||Feeling of loss and deprivation|
|4-24 hours||No withdrawal – no feeling of deprivation or loss so no mental feelings||Increased feelings of deprivation leading to:
Craving for nicotine
|Day 3||No withdrawal – no feeling of deprivation or loss so no mental feelings||Peak withdrawal symptoms for average quitter|
|Years||No withdrawal – no feeling of deprivation or loss so no mental feelings||Feelings may continue because the mental aspect of loss and deprivation has not been dealt with.|
To overcome your fear of withdrawal, you need the facts, not the fiction. Get the facts about nicotine withdrawal (trust us, you’ll be pleasantly surprised) and quit easily with Allen Carr’s Easyway
Free Online Consultation
Not sure if you really want to quit smoking?
Need help to stop smoking?
Want to stop, but concerned that you’ll find it tough?
Worried that you’ll be deprived for the rest of your life without cigarettes?
We can help you to understand and remove those fears and in so doing, make it quitting easy.