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Nicotine addiction and withdrawal

  • Alternative Names

    Withdrawal from nicotine; Smoking - nicotine addiction and withdrawal; Smokeless tobacco - nicotine addiction; Cigar smoking; Pipe smoking; Smokeless snuff; Tobacco use; Chewing tobacco


    Nicotine use can have many different effects on body functions, both positive and negative. Nicotine acts as both a stimulant and depressant on your body. The use of nicotine:

    • Decreases the appetite (for this reason, the fear of weight gain affects some people's willingness to stop smoking).
    • Boosts mood and may even relieve minor depression. Many people will feel a sense of well-being.
    • Raises the blood level of blood sugar (glucose) and increases insulin production.
    • Increases bowel activity, saliva, and phlegm.
    • Increases heart rate by around 10 to 20 beats per minute.
    • Increases blood pressure by 5 to 10 mmHg (because it tightens the blood vessels).
    • May cause sweating, nausea, and diarrhea.
    • Stimulates memory and alertness. People who use tobacco often depend on it to help them accomplish certain tasks and perform well.

    Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal generally start within 2 - 3 hours after the last tobacco use, and will peak about 2 - 3 days later. Symptoms may be severe, depending on how long you smoked and how many cigarettes you smoked each day. Common symptoms include:

    • An intense craving for nicotine
    • Anxiety, tension, restlessness, frustration, or impatience
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Drowsiness or trouble sleeping, as well as bad dreams and nightmares
    • Headaches
    • Increased appetite and weight gain
    • Irritability or depression

    A milder form of nicotine withdrawal that involves some or all of these symptoms can occur when a smoker switches from regular to low-nicotine cigarettes or significantly cuts down on the number of cigarettes smoked.

    Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can mimic, disguise, or worsen the symptoms of other psychiatric problems.

    Signs and tests