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Tobacco in Addiction Treatment

Study Supports Combining Smoking Cessation and Addiction Treatment Programs

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posted 07:21 AM EST, Thu February 13, 2014

Smoking cessation efforts in addiction treatment programs help people quit without compromising overall treatment outcomes.

Here’s a curious fact: almost 3 out of 4 people in treatment for a substance use disorder smoke cigarettes. In fact, people involved in substance abuse treatment are more likely to die from tobacco use than from causes related to alcohol or another drug of abuse. Yet despite this, addiction treatment programs rarely push tobacco cessation as a primary goal. Does this make any sense?

OK, of course straight-up mortality statistics don’t tell the whole story since you almost certainly get a bigger quality of life boost from stopping meth or cocaine or heroin or alcohol. And since dropping two very different addictions at the same time seems a lot harder, it seems to make sense to focus on quitting one at a time – you certainly don’t want a person to quit cocaine treatment just so they can have a cigarette!

That’s the common reasoning anyway, and it makes a lot of sense – unfortunately, like so much else with addiction and addiction treatment, what makes sense isn’t always what’s true.

The counterintuitive truth, according to NIH research published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, is that quitting smoking while in a substance abuse treatment program has no impact on addiction treatment success.

The Study

To come to this conclusion, researchers divided a pool of treatment seeking stimulant abusers (cocaine or methamphetamine) into 2 groups:

  1. a group that received standard outpatient addiction treatment.
  2. a second group received the same addiction treatment and additional smoking cessation treatment (weekly smoking counseling, buprion medication, a nicotine inhaler and prizes for abstinence).

The Results

After measuring for smoking indicators at 10 weeks, 3 months and 6 months post treatment initiation, the researchers concluded that smoking cessation treatment helped people quit tobacco without affecting stimulant addiction treatment participation.

So if you smoke and you’re changing your life for the better with addiction treatment, why not go all the way and go tobacco free at the same time?

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Story Highlights
  • Quit Smoking during Treatment?: Researchers say people who try to quit during an addiction treatment program do equally well to people who don't try.
  • Mortality: Smokers in treatment are more likely to die from tobacco than their primary problem substance.
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