Tobacco is a plant that is used to make a number of addictive products, such as cigarettes, cigars and “chew” or “dip.” The chemical that makes tobacco products both pleasurable and addictive is nicotine. For those working a program of recovery, tobacco products are typically the last habit to kick, yet in many ways they are the deadliest.
While the nation and its lawmakers continue to direct the main focus regarding mind altering substances towards opioids, it is crucial that we do not lose sight of the overall picture of addiction. Cigarettes, and their ilk, are rarely associated with loss of family, friends and/or employment—yet smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On top of that, nearly 6 million Americans lose their life to tobacco use every year, the equivalent of 1 in 5.
Smoking cessation is important to the longevity of anyone’s life, yet for those in addiction recovery the stakes could be considered to be even higher. Those working a program of recovery who smoke cigarettes are found to be at an increased risk of relapse.
Smoking Cessation for Recovery
In the field of addiction recovery, there has long been two different mindsets. In one camp, the belief is that when entering addiction treatment, a concerted effort should be made to cease the use of all mind altering substances. Whereas the other camp, while acknowledging that tobacco is both addictive and bad for you, it is best to tackle one issue at a time—focusing on smoking cessation down the road. The latter mindset, is not necessarily without merit, however, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism points out that:
- The majority of research indicates that smoking cessation is unlikely to compromise alcohol use outcomes (cf. Fogg and Borody 2001).
- 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 (Prochaska et al. 2004).
- Data indirectly suggest that continued smoking increases the risk of alcohol relapse among alcohol-dependent smokers (Taylor et al. 2000).
It is likely every American adult has no illusions about the dangers of smoking, yet even with smoking cessation treatments, success rates are fairly low. The options available for smokers today, include:
- Medications (Chantix or Wellbutrin)
Those who use one of those treatments, in conjunction cognitive behavioral therapy, can and do manage to quit. Which is great! Yet, there are a number of people who cannot manage to abstain from smoking for long periods of time even with the aforementioned options, which is why researchers continue to look for innovative solutions.
Researchers have found a protein in the brain that could lead to smoking cessation treatments in the future, MNT reports. The research team found a way to crystalize the alpha-4-beta-2 (α4β2) nicotinic receptor, which helps them identify how nicotine works in the brain and could eventually lead to further breakthroughs. The findings were published in Nature.
“It’s going to require a huge team of people and a pharmaceutical company to study the protein and develop the drugs, but I think this is the first major stepping stone to making that happen,” said study co-author Dr. Ryan Hibbs, assistant professor of neuroscience and biophysics with the O’Donnell Brain Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we offer a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.
Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 to begin the journey of recovery.