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Smoking likely to slow down recovery from drug abuse, finds study

05-01 | By CSAA Team

Smoking likely to slow down recovery from drug abuse, finds study

It is a well-known fact that a persistent tobacco use contributes to many diseases. In the United States, the situation is highly critical with more than 480,000 tobacco-related deaths each year, highlights the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Studies have shown that cigarette smoking increases the risk of illegal drug use, which results in a slew of unavoidable adverse consequences.  And now a recent study published online in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry revealed that smoking can also hinder recovery from drug abuse.

Unfortunately, most substance abuse programs address a person’s illicit drug use but fail to recognize other comorbid conditions, such as nicotine dependency that usually coexists in drug abusers. It was also observed that the relapse rate for people who were smoking at the start of the study and continued doing so throughout the study period, was substantially higher than nonsmokers. Incidentally, nearly twice as many smokers suffered relapses within a span of three years, as compared to nonsmokers.

Giving up cigarette during recovery can help people stay sober

Led by Renee Goodwin, of the department of epidemiology at Columbia University’s School of Public Health in New York City, the study also revealed that patients can achieve significant benefits if they quit smoking while undergoing treatment for substance abuse. While 11 percent of those who smoked at the start of the study and continued smoking thereafter had a relapse, only 8 percent of those who quit smoking midway reverted to drug use. The numbers were substantially lower for nonsmokers, with only 6.5 showing tendency for relapse.

Andrea Weinberger, assistant professor in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine department of epidemiology and population health in New York City, said, “Our study shows that giving up cigarettes may be even more important for adults in recovery from illicit substance use disorders, since it may help them stay sober”.

Tobacco treatment critical for illicit substance abuse disorders

It is important to treat nicotine dependency as a comorbid problem in people fighting substance use disorder, but it can be a challenging task to achieve this in a clinical setting due to a variety of reasons. Most substance abuse programs refrain from providing any treatment for nicotine withdrawal due to the possibility that it might interfere with the ongoing treatment. Sometimes, doctors do not address smoking issues in drug users due to the misconception that forcing the patient to give up smoking could result in a relapse.

Meanwhile, researchers are optimistic that tobacco treatment will gradually become an important part of the regular treatment for illicit substance use disorders, in case further researches also show similar results. “If research continues to show a relationship between smoking and relapse to substance use among those in recovery, making tobacco treatment a standard part of treatment for illicit substance use disorders may be a critical service to provide to adults toward improving substance treatment outcomes over the long term,” said Goodwin.

Road to recovery

Nicotine addiction is a significant problem in the United States. It is seen that psychological effects of nicotine are comparative to heroin or illicit drug addictions, and thus, only 5 percent of people who try to quit smoking succeed. Experimenting with nicotine even once can be dangerous, since nearly two-thirds of those who experiment with nicotine become regular smokers.

Thus, it is imperative that any treatment for substance abuse takes cognizance of nicotine dependency. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse problem, connect to the Colorado Substance Abuse Advisors to contact the best substance abuse treatment centers in Colorado specializing in the best evidence-based intervention plans. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-300-5857 or chat online for further information on substance abuse treatment programs in Colorado.


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