According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 30.8 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes.
Smoking rates in those with a history of substance use disorder, however, are believed to be even higher, for a variety of reasons.
Cigarette smoking can have a range of health consequences, but is it necessary to stop smoking in order to achieve addiction recovery?
Here is what you need to know about quitting smoking while in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.
Are There Risks To Smoking In Addiction Recovery?
It’s possible to abstain from former substances of abuse, such as alcohol, illicit drugs, or opioids, without quitting nicotine, but it’s also important to explore the pros and cons.
Risks of smoking in recovery include:
Trigger For Relapse
For some people on their recovery journey, smoking or vaping a substance in any capacity could be a trigger or a reminder of a former drug addiction.
Many common drugs of abuse, including heroin, meth, and cocaine are often smoked.
Can you equate the two? Not necessarily. But the simple act of smoking can be important to consider, as it could interfere with your drug abuse recovery.
Nicotine Addiction And Dependence
Tobacco products, like cigarettes, contain nicotine, which can itself be addictive and cause physical dependence, similar to other common drugs of abuse.
This may bring up sensations and emotions that could interfere with your recovery. For instance, nicotine withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and a reliance on nicotine to feel “good” or “normal.”
Why Do People Smoke In Addiction Recovery?
This can vary from person to person. It’s possible a person has been smoking for years, and it’s become a chronic habit that feels normal and familiar.
Tobacco use can also be a coping mechanism. For instance, to relieve feelings of anxiety or stress.
Additionally, for those in recovery, cigarette smoking may seem like the lesser of two evils — not exactly healthy, but not as detrimental as substance abuse.
What Are The Benefits Of Quitting Smoking In Recovery?
Quitting nicotine in recovery should be seriously considered. Although, ultimately, the decision to continue smoking, or to quit, is yours.
To help inform your use or cessation of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or smokeless tobacco in recovery, here are some health benefits to consider.
Quitting nicotine could help prevent certain short-term and long-term health risks.
Cigarette smoking is associated with a number of health effects, including:
- lung disease
- lung cancer
- heart disease
- heart attack
- side effects of secondhand smoke
Quitting nicotine can help prevent these outcomes. You might also feel yourself breathing better, eating better, and see your blood pressure and heart rate return to stable levels.
How To Quit Smoking In Addiction Recovery
Achieving a smoke-free lifestyle in addiction recovery is possible. And you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to do it alone.
Here are some tips for how to quit smoking in recovery:
Talk To Your Treatment Team
A healthcare provider or treatment team can help you come up with a quit plan to get off nicotine, and find healthier alternatives to fulfill the purpose it serves in your life.
What this might involve:
- nicotine replacement therapy (e.g. use of lozenges, nicotine gum, inhalers, nasal sprays, nicotine patches)
- behavioral health treatment (e.g. counseling)
- tracking your days smoke-free
- creating a relapse prevention plan
Some rehab centers may offer assistance for smoking cessation. This can be sought either through an inpatient addiction treatment provider or an outpatient provider.
Ask For Support
You don’t have to do this alone. Call a quitline like 800-quit-now or the American Cancer Society’s line at 1-800-227-2345. Find a smoke-free app.
Besides your treatment team, ask your friends, your partner, or your family members for support. Ask them to help hold you accountable for your decision to quit.
Get Help For Drug And Nicotine Addiction
At Bedrock Recovery Center, we know that navigating recovery from drug addiction and making tough decisions, like whether to quit smoking, isn’t easy.
Our treatment center offers detox and residential treatment programs to help people overcome addiction. Our health professionals can also help you stay smoke-free.
For more information about drug treatment options at Bedrock for yourself or a loved one, call our helpline today.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States U.S. National Library of Medicine: PMC — Impact of quitting smoking and smoking cessation treatment on substance use outcomes: An updated and narrative review
Smokefree.gov — How to Quit