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Should I Quit Smoking in Recovery?

Should I Quit Smoking in Recovery?

Quitting smoking in recovery seems like a tall order. After all, we recently quit using other, more destructive substances. However, smoking cessation may be helpful to our recovery. Research suggests that by quitting smoking in recovery from addiction and alcoholism, we may be increasing our chances of achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety.

About 85% of men and women in recovery from addiction and alcoholism are smokers. We often have to walk through nicotine clouds just to get into meetings or recovery events. Many of us think smoking isn’t a problem because it is more socially acceptable does not cause our lives to be negatively affected in the same way it is by drugs and alcohol. We may even believe that quitting smoking would threaten our sobriety by asking too much of us. According to the American Family Physician, “Until recently, we thought that quitting smoking made it harder to stay sober. We now know that smokers who are in recovery from alcohol abuse can stop smoking without starting to drink again. Because smoking and drinking usually go together, smoking can lead to a stronger craving for alcohol. So quitting smoking during treatment for alcoholism, or right after treatment, can actually increase your chances of staying sober. People who have been off smoking for a long time say that they feel more in control of their lives, less anxious and less depressed than they felt when they smoked.”

Quitting smoking does cause withdrawal symptoms such as nervousness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. These stressors can be difficult to work through in the very early stages of sobriety. However, the AAFP points out, “Your body is addicted to nicotine, so it feels better with the drug than without it. Maybe another time would be better. But remember that you, like all other people, will always be under some kind of stress. Waiting to be stress-free before trying to quit smoking may just be an excuse for not facing your nicotine addiction.” We may find it helpful to wait until we are further along in our recovery, but research shows that smoking cessation may be beneficial to our recovery. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains, “Participation in smoking cessation efforts while engaged in other substance abuse treatment has been associated with a 25 percent greater likelihood of long-term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs,” and, “Data indirectly suggest that continued smoking increases the risk of alcohol relapse among alcohol-dependent smokers.” We may have little interest in quitting smoking in the early stages of recovery, but we should consider giving up cigarettes at some point along the way.

Treatment should be more than a program. When you joined Anchored Recovery, you join a community of individuals committed to sobriety. Our full continuum of care can help you seamlessly transition from detox through every phase of treatment you need to ensure lifelong sobriety. Call us today for information: 800.848.6168

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