Nicotine Relieves Stress

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Is nicotine a stress reliever?

Many people have a misconception that nicotine relieves stress. Stress is a natural reaction to unexpected situations and hectic lifestyles, however, many people do not understand that sometimes they can be more susceptible to stress when they have a nicotine addiction.

Myth: Nicotine Relieves Stress

When you smoke, you may feel calm and less stressed than before you lit the cigarette. Smoking, commonly known as a stress reliever because of the way it makes someone feel afterwards, has no effect on stress from unexpected situations and feeling overwhelmed. Nicotine actually increases your stress level to these situations.

Why You Feel Less Stressed after Smoking

You may wonder why it is that you feel less stressed after smoking if it isn't an effect of nicotine. You may even be skeptical about this and have a difficult time believing that nicotine has no effect on reducing stress.

Relieving Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

When you don't smoke for a while, you may start to feel nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from physical ailments to psychological ones such as anxiety. If you experience anxiety, nervousness, and irritability when you haven't had your regular smoke, you may think other things in your life are causing you to feel this way and contribute it to being stressed. When you smoke, you alleviate some of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms and then think that it's the nicotine that calms your nerves.

Your Body Believes Your Mind

Nicotine itself is not the answer to your anxiety; smoking simply helps relieve that anxiety. Smokers who consume large amounts of nicotine do so because they believe it helps them stay calm but what is really happening is that they feel stressed more often because of the nicotine and thus, need to smoke more because they think it relieves it.

You may not realize the power of your mind to calm your body's reaction to stress. As a smoker, you have convinced yourself that nicotine relieves stress, however, it's not the drug itself but your belief that it is.

Smoking as a Relaxation Breathing Technique

Another theory that nicotine reduces stress results from people who don't realize that the act of smoking is actually a breathing relaxation technique. When you smoke, you inhale and exhale, and may even do it rhythmically. Many people who do not smoke use this breathing relaxation technique often to manage their stress without consuming nicotine.

How to Break the Cycle of Using Nicotine as a Stress Reliever

Since consuming nicotine can result in feeling more stressed, you may wonder how to break the cycle of using smoking as an instant stress relief. Instead of picking up your pack of cigarettes at the first signs of anxiety, try stress management techniques to help calm your nerves.

If you are not sure how to manage your stress, read these articles and find some stress relievers that will work with you and your schedule:


Decreasing your intake of nicotine is difficult because you become addicted psychologically and physically. However, if you want to lower your anxiety levels, it's a good idea to reduce and limit your smoking. After experiencing some withdrawal symptoms, you will begin to feel less anxious and will have an increased ability to handle stressful situations in your life.

Nicotine Relieves Stress