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  • How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

    Smoking results in high levels of nicotine reaching the brain within 10-20 seconds of inhaling from a cigarette.

    How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

    Peak concentrations of nicotine are present in the brain within 10 minutes. Twenty minutes after smoking, however, the concentration is down to half.

    Nicotine Overview

    Nicotine is a drug found in cigarettes, chewing tobacco, loose tobacco, gum, patches, and e-cigarettes. As a stimulant, it increases the heart rate and the production of dopamine. Dopamine is the brain chemical that allows us to feel pleasure. Nicotine does not stay in the body long, however.

    How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

    Smoking results in high levels of nicotine reaching the brain within 10-20 seconds of inhaling from a cigarette. Peak concentrations of nicotine are present in the brain within 10 minutes. Twenty minutes after smoking, however, the concentration is down to half. The feelings of relaxation focused attention, and pleasure tends to peak within 20 minutes. As those effects wear off, someone who smokes will begin craving more nicotine to get those feelings back.

    Cigarette smokers take in about 50 micrograms of nicotine each time they inhale. The length of time nicotine stays in someone’s body is dependent upon metabolism and other factors. The half-life of nicotine is 2 hours, which means after 2 hours, half of the nicotine in the body decays. It is possible that the metabolites of nicotine, or the smaller components of it, stay in the body for several hours.

    The way nicotine enters the body and the amount of nicotine in the form used also affects the length of time nicotine stays in the body. For example, a full cigarette typically contains one milligram of nicotine. Chewing tobacco contains 3-5 milligrams, and nicotine gum contains 1.5 milligrams. Nicotine delivered to the brain via the lungs is the fastest method of administration. Mucous membranes in the mouth are the second most rapid method. As mentioned before, smoking a cigarette will deliver nicotine to the brain within 20 seconds of inhaling, whereas gum or chewing tobacco delivers its quantity of nicotine over a longer period.

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