how long does nicotine stay in your system

Nicotine is a drug found in tobacco. It is basically an alkaloid derived from a family of plants called Solanaceae. It is as addictive, if not more, as heroin or cocaine. Nicotine also remains in your blood stream for long periods of time eventually causing you to becoming physically and emotionally dependent on it. In fact; this very physical and mental dependence on nicotine makes it one of the hardest habits to kick. As Mark Twain rightly said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I myself have done it a thousand times"!

How Does Nicotine Get in Your System? Where Does It Go? And How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Blood?

Many employers these days conduct the nicotine drug test before employing people. This is because; smokers cost a lot of money to employ. Not only do they tend to take frequent breaks for lighting up hampering productivity, they also tend to fall sick more often resulting in sick leaves, higher insurance rates etc.

When you inhale the smoke from a cigar or cigarette (directly or indirectly), the nicotine gets carried into your lungs where it gets absorbed by the bloodstream. Along with carbon monoxide and other toxins, this blood is then circulated to all major organs of the body.

Research has actually shown that nicotine inhaled from cigarette smoke reaches the brain a lot faster than drugs injected intravenously.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your Blood?

Different factors decide how long nicotine stays in the blood. In majority of smokers, nicotine and its by-product cotinine remain in the blood for about 3-4 days after quitting. This is naturally dependent on the frequency of smoking. If you are a moderate smoker smoking 2-3 cigarettes per day, then the nicotine might be flushed out sooner. If you are a heavy smoker, nicotine could remain in your blood for up to a week after the last cigarette.

A nicotine blood test is one of the most effective ways of finding out whether you smoke. If you are undergoing nicotine urine test and wish to know how long nicotine stays in the urine, then, as stated above, many factors might affect your results. That being said; in most cases, nicotine is flushed out completely from the urine within 2-3 days of quitting.

How Long Does Nicotine Stay in the Saliva?

The nicotine saliva test is another quick method of testing for nicotine. A simple swab of saliva is taken from the mouth and soaked in a solution where it mixes with cotinine and shows exactly how much nicotine is present in your saliva. In most cases, nicotine might remain in your saliva for 11 hours and can, in heavy smokers, last for up to 5 days.

Hhow Long Does Secondhand Smoke Stay in Your System?

​Whenever you inhale secondhand smoke from a cigarette, nicotine is absorbed into your bloodstream. You must remember that if you are frequently around people who smoke and/or in a room full of smoke, you are likely to test positive to cotinine.

What Does Nicotine Do to Your Body?

Nicotine affects all parts of the body, including your heart, blood vessels and the brain. It also interferes with your hormones, changes the way your body thinks about food, affects your metabolism and also finds its way into breast milk. Pregnant women who smoke actually let the nicotine cross their placenta and enter into the amniotic fluid as well as the umbilical cord of the foetus.

Is Nicotine Bad for You?

  • Nicotine is definitely very bad for you as it is a proven carcinogen.
  • It is also highly addictive in that; it gives the smoker a temporary high making him feel very pleasant. This makes the smoker want to smoke again and again.
  • Nicotine is a proven depressant.
  • It interferes with the flow of information between your nerve cells.
  • It has the same effect a spilled drain cleaner has on your skin; it inflames your body and all the linings of your organs. Imagine if you’d continue smoking several times a day - your body never gets a chance to heal and it remains red and inflamed. Over time, the damage caused by nicotine cannot be healed.

As a smoker continues to smoke, his/her body gets immune to the effects of nicotine which means that s/he desires even more nicotine to produce the desired effects. This is the main reason why people turn into chain smokers. They need a certain level of nicotine in their body constantly.

If for some reason a smoker has to postpone smoking, s/he starts feeling edgy, irritated and anxious. Usually this does not lead to serious withdrawal symptoms but the smoker feels the need to have a cigarette. Once they do, the temporary pleasantness returns and the vicious cycle continues.

How Much Nicotine Is in a Cigarette?

There are dozens of manufacturers and brands of cigarettes but all of them have more or less the same method of manufacture. So, every cigarette you smoke contributes to approximately 0.95-1mg of nicotine. The total amount of nicotine in your bloodstream will be determined by the total number of cigarettes you smoke per day.

What Is Cotinine and Is It as Bad as Nicotine?

Cotinine is a by-product or metabolite of nicotine. It is formed after chemical nicotine has entered the bloodstream. It is not only smokers who are at a risk of having cotinine in their blood stream, but even non-smokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke who are known to have nearly 70% cotinine in their blood.

Cotinine levels in the blood and urine are biomarkers that help determine whether a person has been exposed to nicotine, directly or indirectly. This is because, compared to nicotine, cotinine has a longer half life and stability in the blood. Its higher urine and serum level concentrations also make it a useful biomarker for such tests. Most employers and insurance companies use the cotinine testing methods to determine nicotine/tobacco exposure, by using blood, urine or saliva nicotine tests.

Cotinine urine concentration levels in smokers is 39.28 +/-113.

There is no interrelation between cotinine levels and average number of cigarettes smoked or duration of smoking.

How to Pass Cotinine Test?

Many smokers and non-smokers alike wish to know how to pass the cotinine test. This is mostly needed for a job interview or even for the purpose of seeking life insurance or health insurance.

The good news for smokers is: you can easily pass the cotinine testing. According to the American Lung Association, nicotine levels disappear from your blood within 72 hours of smoking your last cigarette. As stated above thanks to longer cotinine half life, it is the most common identifier for nicotine levels in the urine. So, even the heaviest of smoker can abstain for 3 or 4 days, theoretically lie about their smoking habit and go undetected.

Cotinine in Blood, Urine and Saliva Testing

Since nicotine leaves the body fairly quickly, companies use cotinine drug tests, which can determine cotinine levels in the blood, cotinine in urine or cotinine in saliva. To beat these cotinine tests you must first of all abstain from smoking for at least 3-5 day, the longer the better.

Even if you do that, cotinine levels might still show up as cotinine in urine or saliva. This is especially the case in chronic smokers. If you are a moderate to light smokers, chances are that it won’t show up. Clearing cotinine testing is important to get life insurance or even when seeking a job. Passing the cotinine test is also important if you are going to undergo a major surgery.

So, apart from staying away from cigarettes you must also keep away from second hand smoke. Drink as much water as you can to flush out the cotinine in urine. Also you can buy the home testing kit that can let you check your urine for cotinine levels.

​This easy to use Nicotine/Tobacco Test Kit is the best test kit that you can use to make sure you have no nictotine/cotinine in your system.

This test very accurate and inexpensive. It's been rated 4.5 stars by many users who bought it on Amazon. Read the numerous positive reviews from people who passed the workplace nicotine tests.

"This will test for any forms of nicotine in the system."

How to Pass the Cotinine in Saliva Test?

In order to pass the cotinine in saliva test, quit smoking 3-5 days before the test. Also continue to drink tons of water. Eat healthy and exercise daily.

Try and gargle frequently with a saliva-detox-mouthwash. This will help stop the salivary glands from producing saliva for 30 minutes. Following this, you can home test your cotinine in saliva levels. You can easily buy the saliva drug test kit in order to see if you clear the this test. You can also undergo a complete nicotine cleanse by using fasting and juicing techniques to get rid of all serum cotinine levels.

These methods are also some of the proven ways of how to pass a nicotine test.

Then use the in-home ​test kit just to be sure.

Nicotine Cleanse: How to Get Nicotine out of Your System?

The main step in complete nicotine cleanse, apart from fasting and full body detox, is getting rid of the mental addiction. Get help from a support group, a therapist or a counselor or use any self help methods available online and offline.

Heavy smokers could also try nicotine replacement therapy or NRT. NRT makes use of nicotine gums, nasal sprays, patches and/or lozenges when the urge to light up strikes.

There are many other remedies that can help you up your chances of success in quitting. These include hypnosis, acupuncture, magnet therapy etc. 

For example, try the No 1 Best Seller NicoDerm CQ Stop Smoking Aid Clear Nicotine Patches which are great if you moke more than 10 cigarettes per day.

NicoDerm CQ  nicotine patches stick onto the skin.

When applied, they allow nicotine to pass through the skin and into the blood, delivering a steady stream ( through SmartControl Technology) of therapeutic nicotine that helps reduce cravings from quitting smoking.

How Long Does Lean Stay in Your System

Some readers have asked me about LEAN and how long it lasts in your body. Although this is really not a topic of this post, here is some info.

Lean, commonly known by its street names “sizzurp” and “purple drank”, is not just bad for you - it's downright deadly. The basic ingredients in a cup of lean are soda, cough syrup with codeine and promethazine (an antihistamine), and jolly ranchers (for extra sweetness).

​The length of time that a drug is detectable in the system depends on a variety of factors, including:the type of test, dose tolerance, potency, metabolism and the existence of medical conditions.

​Drug Detection Times

Please use these figures as a guide only:Alcohol: 3-5 days in urine, 10-12 hours in bloodAmphetamines: 1-3 days in urine and around 12 hours in bloodBarbiturates: 2-4 days in urine and 1-2 days in bloodBenzodiazepines: 3-6 weeks in urine and 2-3 days in blood.Cannabis: 7-30 days in urine and up to 2 weeks in bloodCocaine: 3-4 days in urine and 1-2 days in bloodCodeine: 1 day in urine and up to 12 hours in bloodHeroin: 3-4 days in urine and up to 12 hours in bloodLSD: 1-3 days in urine and up to 2-3 hours in bloodMDMA (ecstasy): 3-4 days in urine and 1-2 days in bloodMethamphetamine (crystal meth): 3-6 days in urine and 24 - 72 hours in bloodMethadone: 3-4 days in urine and 24-36 hours in bloodMorphine: 2-3 days in urine and 6-8 hours in bloodDrug detection in hairDrugs or their metabolites may be detectable in hair. Hair grows at a rate of approximately 1cm per month so depending on the length of hair it may be possible to determine drug use over recent months.

Make sure you eat healthy and drink lots of water when undergoing the nicotine cleanse. Take a vitamin C pill to boost immunity and cleanse the body of toxic elements produced by nicotine. Do deep breathing exercises or follow mind body practices like meditation, yoga or T’ai chi to completely get nicotine out of your system.

About the Author

Barbara is the founder and owner of She is a former research scientist with a serious passion for health. She enjoys writing about nutrition, wellness and lifestyle and empowering people to take control of their health.

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