In our last blog entry we discussed how cigarette smoking is common in the field of recovery.
Today we are going to discuss recent studies that show that abstaining from all mood altering chemicals (including tobacco and other cigarette by products) actually increases the likelihood of a recovering alcoholic or addict maintaining sobriety for the long term.
Nicotine is a Powerful Drug and Powerfully Addictive
Nicotine is a powerfully mood altering substance. It is also cheap and easily available. Nicotine costs about 2 cents per “hit.” It is very potent and has been masterfully packaged and marketed by “big tobacco.” It is even fashionable in some circles to smoke cigarettes (although less so over time).
The Nicotine Treatment Myth
It is believed by many (myself included) that smoking is a “crutch” with which a recovering alcoholic or drug addict will be able to rely on to manage stress in early sobriety. It is very common at the A.A. clubs around the world to have caffeine drinks handy and ashtrays for the recovering people. This myth leads to the assumption that quitting smoking at the same time as alcohol (or drugs) will lead to higher relapse rates
The Fact of Quitting Both Nicotine and Alcohol (or Drugs) at the Same Time
Almost everyone who is addicted to cigarettes wants to quit smoking. Studies have shown that relapse rates are higher for recovering addicts (and alcoholics) who continue to smoke in sobriety than it is for those who don’t smoke.
Quitting Smoking Requires a Treatment Program
It is critical for the treatment industry to address this deadly habit and start to provide the opportunity for newly recovering people to free themselves from the cigarette habit in addition to the substance they are in a rehab program for.
Cigarette cessation is important enough to justify creating a special recovery program of its own. Cigarette Smoking kills more people than alcohol, cocaine, heroin,homicide, suicide, care accidents, fire, and AIDS – COMBINED. Approximately 25 million citizens of the US who are alive today will most likelydie of a smoking related disease.
People in recovery who are attempting to quit smoking should also be given a program for the smoking cessation that integrates the smoking abstinence into the planning for:
- support meetings
- medication (there are products like Zyban and Chantix which can aid newly quit smokers)
There are special support groups for smokers who want to quit like nicotine anonymous ; contact your local hospital for more information.
The Benefit of Simultaneously Quitting Smoking and Drugs/Alcohol
The benefits of quitting both smoking tobacco and drugs/alcohol are that the person in recovery will feel better physically so much sooner, and the entire person will be healing in mind body and spirit. By clinging to another addictive substance (ie tobacco) during recovery, the recovering man or woman mentally, physically, and spiritually knows that they are still substituting one addiction for another. If they are able to quit all addictions at once, they will more easily have the spiritually rewarding experience of finding a healthy and fulfilling relationship with a higher power allowing them to abstain from smoking cigarettes. In this way the “life style” change is complete and the former cigarette addict will have so much more momentum in recovery, have so much more to lose in the event of a relapse, and therefore will remain more likely to maintain their sobriety.