Sunday, July 13, 2008

Quit Smoking to Improve Staying Sober

Here is a very interesting article that encourages alcoholics to stop smoking at the same time they quit drinking. Many drinkers use the excuse that they can't quit smoking at the same time, and many treatment facilities take the addict off of all addictive substances including caffeine EXCEPT for nicotine. It is about time that we started treating nicotine as the addictive substance it is:

Source: Harvard Health Publications

"People who are dependent on alcohol are also likely to smoke cigarettes. Many experts believe that it’s important to counsel alcohol-dependent individuals to give up smoking as well as drinking—not just to improve their health, but also to increase their chances of staying sober, reports a recent issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

It is a common worry that trying to quit smoking and drinking at the same time will undermine treatment for alcohol dependence. However, most studies have reported that efforts to quit smoking either have no impact on maintaining sobriety or actually increase success of alcohol treatment.

There are no smoking cessation guidelines specifically for alcohol-dependent adults. For now, the best option is to follow the federal guidelines for treating tobacco dependence, which recommend a combination of counseling and medication.

A major and still unresolved question is whether it’s better to give up smoking and drinking together, or whether it’s better to tackle one addiction at a time. Researchers have found that when smoking cessation support was delayed by six months, study participants were more likely to remain sober compared with those who received concurrent treatment for both addictions. But a follow-up analysis found that this may have been true only for white people in the study.

Michael C. Miller, MD, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter , notes that no single approach is best for every person struggling with both alcohol and nicotine addiction. Whether an individual quits smoking during alcohol treatment or later, it's a net health gain."

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