It is no secret that people in recovery from drugs and alcohol are pretty attached to their remaining vices. Endless cups of coffee, energy drinks, and cigarettes are all highly likely to be found in any given group of recovering addicts. But, just as well known are the dangers of cigarette smoking.
Dangers of Smoking
Yes, tobacco is legal for adults over the age of 18. And most addicts view cigarettes as the “lesser of two evils,” using it as a tool to manage stress and be social in early sobriety. But it is important that we remind ourselves of the dangers of smoking cigarettes. The CDC estimates that over 16 million Americans have a chronic smoking-related illness. Among these illnesses? Cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, diabetes, strokes, and COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The CDC also notes that smoking has been linked to tuberculosis risk, eye diseases, and immune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis. Tobacco causes roughly 6 million deaths per year, and that number is expected to increase to over 8 million by 2030. Smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than their nonsmoking counterparts. Further, secondhand smoke can be damaging as well, causing almost 41,000 nonsmoking Americans to die each year from diseases caused by it.
A Quick Primer
While tobacco can be used in many forms, the cigarette is the most prevalent. Average smokers inhale 1-2 mg of nicotine with each cigarette. Tobacco inhalation results in rapid absorption of the drug into the bloodstream, and subsequently the brain. Nicotine exposure almost immediately causes stimulation of the adrenal glands, which releases epinephrine (aka, adrenaline). This rush of adrenaline causes physical stimulation and increases blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.
So How Does This Apply to Addicts?
A recent scientific study out of UC San Francisco investigated the prevalence of smoking in addiction treatment communities. They compiled data from 54 studies across the world, which included a total of 37,364 study participants. The study found that rates of smoking in people who are in addiction treatment programs are more than twice the rates among their peers.Smoking rates were alo higher in opiate treatment programs than alcohol treatment, and higher in patients undergoing opiate replacement therapy than outpatient treatment programs. This is understandable, because people used to seeking certain effects from drugs are likely to seek out similarly-rewarding mechanisms even after they kick their drug of choice. But the health risks are also too large to ignore. Recovering addicts need to keep in mind that while it may be too ambitious to quit smoking and other major addictions at the same time, a goal should be eventually quitting smoking. The whole point of getting sober is to extend and enhance your life, and long-term cigarette smoking can significantly reduce your chances of that.
Help is Available
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the professional staff at Serenity Acres is ready to help. Call today for your free confidential assessment, to see if inpatient treatment may be the answer you are looking for: 1-800-203-2024