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How Do You Know If You Are Addicted To Nicotine & How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Nicotine From The Body?

Regular use of tobacco products can lead to tobacco dependence, also known as nicotine dependence. This is because nicotine is found in tobacco products. Addiction to nicotine is hard to get rid of despite the fact that it may be causing you harm. Nicotine causes physical and mood-altering effects, which for a while maybe pleasing, but in reality, they are not. These same effects make you want to continue with tobacco substance abuse, which is basically the addiction to nicotine. For individuals willing to quit tobacco, it is a difficult journey since they experience some withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and anxiety. Despite that, overcoming the withdrawal symptoms will be a great victory in that it will help with improving your health, no matter how long you have been smoking.[1]

How Do You Know If You Are Addicted To Nicotine?

How Do You Know If You Are Addicted To Nicotine?

Smoking may be regarded as a conscious activity which you do willingly, but then again, some times you may be smoking because you are addicted to it. A high percentage of individuals who smoke want to quit smoking but they find it hard to because of nicotine that is a naturally occurring substance in nicotine with addictive effects. There are various indications that you may be addicted to nicotine, including how soon you smoke a cigarette after waking up in the morning. If you reach out for a smoke within the first five minutes of waking up, then you have a strong addiction. On the other hand, if it takes an hour or more for you to take your first smoke of the day, then your addiction is on the low.[2]

The warning signs/symptoms of addiction on nicotine are;

  • Smoking even when you are sick
  • Going out for smoke even when the weather is unfavorable; say it is raining or freezing
  • You find it difficult not to smoke in places you should not including at school, in church, the library, movie theatre and even at a hospital
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you do not take a smoke
  • Having cravings and intense urges to use tobacco
  • Trying to quit smoking but not being able to
  • You need to use tobacco to feel satisfaction
  • Giving up social or recreational activities with friends and family so that you can smoke[2] [3] [1]

How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Nicotine From The Body?

When you take a single puff of a cigarette, it takes about 20 minutes for nicotine to enter your bloodstream. The immediate effects of smoking are irritation and redness in the lining of your nose and esophagus, dry mouth and bad breath since the tobacco components kill the good bacteria in your mouth. Once the nicotine is in your bloodstream, it stimulates your brain releasing feel-good chemicals. Within two hours, your body will have removed half the nicotine you have ingested. This means that after two hours, you are likely to have an urge to take another cigarette, and the cycle continues.[4] [5]

When you ingest any product with nicotine, once it is in your body, it is broken down into more than 20 different substances. Some of these substances include cotinine, nornicotine, and anabasine, which are eventually excreted in the urine. Your body absorbs about 90% of nicotine from one cigarette, and even after the effects of nicotine have died down, traces of the substance will still be present in your body. This can be figured out by taking tests of one’s urine, blood, and saliva. Tests can also be done on the hair and nails to measure levels of nicotine and its by-products.

Cotinine levels in a smoker may take over two weeks to get back to normal, and it may take a while longer for nicotine levels in urine to decrease. As for traces of nicotine in the hair, it may take even longer for it to reduce. The period of time nicotine lasts in your body is dependent on several factors including how much smoking you do, age, and even gender. The levels of nicotine may last longer in individuals who are 65 years and older, and men may retain traces of nicotine longer than women since women tend to process nicotine faster than men.[4]


Tobacco abuse has adverse effects on your overall health, and also results in addiction. There are various signs of addiction including craving cigarettes and withdrawal effects when you do not smoke. If you do note some of the indications of addiction, you should seek medical attention immediately. Nicotine gets into your system within 20 minutes and may last for 2 hours or more in your system depending on how often you smoke, one cigarette after the other.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 11, 2019

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