Nicotine Withdrawal Timeline
The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal typically only last a couple of days or a few weeks at most but they can be very challenging to cope with. Cravings for cigarettes will last much longer than the actual symptoms of withdrawal and the temptation to smoke can quickly result in relapse if you’re not careful. A review of the nicotine withdrawal timeline shows that if you remain committed to quitting, you stay persistent in your efforts and you do whatever it takes to stay abstinent from the use of cigarettes or other nicotine containing products that you will soon feel great relief from the withdrawal symptoms that have come to wreak havoc on your life.
A Few Hours After the Last Cigarette
Within the first few hours after you smoke your last cigarette you will begin to feel the effects of nicotine withdrawal. Most smokers attribute this feeling to the “need” for another cigarette but if you’re trying to quit, you must avoid smoking all together! The effects of nicotine withdrawal and the symptoms that you begin to feel mere hours after your last smoke may include:
- Heightened anxiety or irritability
- Poor concentration as all you can think about are cravings for another cigarette
- Poor performance or motor activity due to a lack of concentration
- Sadness or depression
- Cravings for nicotine, cigarettes or nicotine containing products
- Reduced heart rate
- Insomnia or an inability to sleep or rest
24 Hours After the Last Cigarette
The first 24-48 hours are probably the worst in terms of cravings and side effects. As the nicotine withdrawal timeline progresses, you will begin to find it easier to avoid situations that cause you to crave a cigarette and you will learn how to more effectively cope with the urges that you do have. Over the first 24 hours after you decide to quit smoking you may feel the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Increased anxiety the seemingly won’t go away and continues to worsen
- Persistent insomnia and an inability to sleep
- Continued cravings for nicotine that seem to be getting worse
- Feelings of hopelessness as if you can’t do it
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
4-7 Days After the Last Cigarette
Within a few days you will begin to notice that you are no longer irritable, that you do not have the consistent urge to smoke and that the nicotine withdrawal symptoms are diminishing with each passing day. About a week after you smoke your last cigarette, you will notice that the major withdrawal symptoms, though still present at times, have mostly gone away. You no longer have a consistent craving and you no longer feel like you can’t do it. From the first week on through the next few weeks you may notice that your cravings for nicotine do spike at times and that every once in a while you have some anxiety or restlessness which may be a lingering effect of the nicotine withdrawal but these symptoms tend to pass rather quickly now and do not take over the way they do in the early days following your decision to quit smoking.
One Month After the Last Cigarette
The nicotine withdrawal timeline can continue on for many weeks in terms of psychological cravings and occasional restlessness but for most smokers, within a month of their last cigarette, most of the symptoms of withdrawal will have dissipated. At one month past your last cigarette, you will probably not have any major symptoms of withdrawal lingering with you and you probably don’t think too much about smoking anymore. There could be lingering nightmares or insomnia at times but the majority of symptoms should be gone by now—you have successfully made it one month without a cigarette!