Nicotine withdrawal

Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;24:99-123. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-13482-6_4.


An aversive abstinence syndrome manifests 4-24 h following cessation of chronic use of nicotine-containing products. Symptoms peak on approximately the 3rd day and taper off over the course of the following 3-4 weeks. While the severity of withdrawal symptoms is largely determined by how nicotine is consumed, certain short nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been shown to predispose individuals to consume larger amounts of nicotine more frequently--as well as to more severe symptoms of withdrawal when trying to quit. Additionally, rodent behavioral models and transgenic mouse models have revealed that specific nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunits, cellular components, and neuronal circuits are critical to the expression of withdrawal symptoms. Consequently, by continuing to map neuronal circuits and nAChR subpopulations that underlie the nicotine withdrawal syndrome--and by continuing to enumerate genes that predispose carriers to nicotine addiction and exacerbated withdrawal symptoms--it will be possible to pursue personalized therapeutics that more effectively treat nicotine addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain* / drug effects
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Brain* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome* / genetics
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome* / metabolism
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome* / physiopathology


  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Nicotine