How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

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What Is Nicotine? 

Nicotine is a highly addictive stimulant compound found primarily in the tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum). It can also be found in smaller amounts in nightshades. People typically use it for the pleasurable and calming feelings it produces in the brain. Over time, however, the brain starts to crave these feelings, leading to regular use and, for many, addiction.

People mainly consume nicotine in various tobacco-based products, but vaping has become increasingly popular.

Here are some quick nicotine facts:

  • Twenty-two percent of the US population (about 61.6 million people) report consuming nicotine in some form (whether via tobacco products or vaping) on a monthly basis.
  • More than 15% of people in the US report smoking cigarettes each month.
  • Among Americans 12 and older, 4.7% reported vaping nicotine in the past 30 days.


In this article, we’ll cover how long nicotine stays in your system, along with other questions you might have.

What Substances Contain Nicotine?

All tobacco products contain nicotine, including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco (such as dip, snuff, snus, and chewing tobacco), hookah tobacco, and most e-cigarettes.

How Much Nicotine Is in a Vape?

Standard vape levels are available in a variety of doses. Commercial vape juice is available in nicotine concentrations of 0 mg, 3 mg, 6 mg, 12 mg, and 18 mg per milliliter. For consumers with a higher tolerance level, high nicotine dose cartridges with 24-36 milligrams per milliliter are also available.

How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette?

Each cigarette contains an average of about 10-15 mg of nicotine, but smokers absorb only about 1-2 mg of nicotine per cigarette.

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Is Nicotine Bad for You?

While it’s not the primary cause of diseases associated with smoking (such as lung cancer, emphysema, or cardiovascular disease), nicotine does have various health effects on its own:

  • Nicotine is highly addictive. This addiction can lead to increased consumption of tobacco products, which exposes users to harmful carcinogens and other toxic compounds.
  • Nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure. Chronic exposure can contribute to the hardening of arterial walls, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • There’s evidence that nicotine can harm fetal development, leading to low birth weight, premature birth, and stillbirth. Pregnant individuals are strongly advised to avoid nicotine.
  • Nicotine withdrawal can cause mood disturbances, depression, and anxiety.
  • Nicotine can increase the release of stress hormones.
  • Some people use nicotine for its appetite-suppressing effects. This can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.


In addition, it should be noted that, while often marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, e-cigarettes introduce their own set of concerns. For instance, some e-liquids have been found to contain toxic chemicals, and there have been reports of lung injuries associated with vaping.

And, of course, any tobacco-based product will contain a variety of carcinogens, especially cigarettes. Cigars and pipes also contain carcinogens, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent than cigarettes, which contain many additives.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your System?

The length of time nicotine and its metabolites stay in your system can depend on numerous factors, including the frequency of use, the amount used, individual metabolism, and the test used to detect it.

  • Blood — Nicotine can usually be detected in the blood for 1-3 days after consuming tobacco or nicotine products. Cotinine can be detected in the blood for up to 10 days.
  • Urine — Nicotine itself may be detected in urine for up to 3 days, while cotinine can be detected for up to 3 weeks or longer, depending on factors like the individual’s metabolism, hydration level, and tobacco usage.
  • Saliva — Nicotine may be detectable in saliva for up to 4 days.
  • Hair — Hair testing can detect nicotine for up to 1-3 months after exposure. In some cases and especially with chronic exposure, it might be detectable for up to a year.
  • Breath — Breath tests can detect nicotine for up to 24 hours after ingestion.


Remember, these are general estimates, and the actual detection time can vary based on multiple factors. Additionally, individuals who use tobacco or nicotine products regularly will likely have detectable levels for longer periods compared to occasional users.

If you’re trying to quit smoking or using nicotine products, consider reaching out to medical professionals or support groups for guidance and resources.

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Addiction Treatment at South Coast Behavioral Health

For those struggling with nicotine addiction, South Coast Behavioral Health offers compassionate and affordable addiction treatment.

The first step is going through a medical detox. Our medical detox program in California is staffed by caring and compassionate professionals who can provide you with medications to manage your withdrawal symptoms.

At South Coast, we take pride in offering care that is closely tailored to specific issues. To that end, we offer gender-specific detox programs, with medical detox for men in Irvine, CA, and medical detox for women in Huntington Beach, CA.

After detoxing, proper treatment can begin.

Treatment for substance abuse takes place along an entire spectrum of care. Along that entire spectrum are various behavioral therapies, support groups, and the use of medically-assisted treatment (MAT).

These levels of treatment are, in order, as follows:

Residential Treatment in California

After successfully completing medical detox, you’ll move to inpatient treatment in Orange County, California. There, you’ll receive medically-assisted treatment and dual diagnosis treatment to deal with any cravings or co-occurring mental health issues you may be battling. We also offer residential treatment facilities in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Huntington Beach for those who desire gender-specific treatment. There, patients get round-the-clock medical attention and monitoring while living at our facility full-time.

In addition to individual and group counseling and medication management, you’ll also have access to leisure activities and family support services.

Partial Hospitalization in California

Most clients start substance abuse treatment with South Coast in our residential treatment program. After completing that, many desire something that still provides structure and support but with extra space and time to oneself. For that, we offer Partial Hospitalization in Newport Beach.

A step down from inpatient care but with more structure than conventional outpatient programs, partial hospitalization offers a good balance for those looking to ease back into normal life. Clients can receive care five to seven days a week for a number of hours each day, returning back to their sober living homes in the evening.

This way, they can recover without putting their daily lives completely on hold, receiving intense therapeutic interventions like group and individual therapy, skills development, and medication management as necessary.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment in California

For those leaving inpatient residential treatment or partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are yet another gradual step forward on the road to recovery.

With a focus on group therapy, individual counseling, and education, clients undergoing Intensive Outpatient Treatment in Newport Beach can meet three to five days a week. Each session lasts three hours.

This level of care requires the least amount of attendance at a facility.

Get Started Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with nicotine addiction but wonder how long addiction counseling takes or have other questions, call us at 866-881-1184 or contact us here. Our highly qualified staff will be happy to help give you an idea of what to expect from your addiction recovery timeline, help verify your insurance, and assist with any other questions you may have.

Pierce Willans
Kelly McIntyre
Medically Reviewed by Kelly McIntyre, MS, LMFT
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