Cigarette smoking and drug addiction can occur together. Smoking is common among those in recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),  about 65% to 85% of people in treatment for substance abuse smoke cigarettes. 

While cigarette smoking is common among those in recovery, there are some drawbacks to continuing smoking while in treatment for addiction.

Why Do People Smoke Cigarettes in Recovery?

Smoking is common in addiction recovery. Many people may wonder, “Why do people still smoke cigarettes when in rehab?” There are several reasons people may continue smoking cigarettes when recovering from addiction. One reason is that people may be uncertain about giving up smoking. They may worry that if they give up smoking, it will interfere with their abstinence from illegal drugs

Smoking may also serve as a coping mechanism or a form of stress relief while in treatment. When people feel a craving for drugs, they may instead smoke a cigarette to relieve the craving. This form of stress relief is often permitted by staff in rehab facilities who may condone cigarette smoking. 

How Many People Smoke Cigarettes in Recovery?

A recent study evaluated much of the prevalence data collected between 1987 and 2013. According to the study, about 84% of people in treatment for substance abuse are smokers, compared to 31% in the general population. 

How many people smoke cigarettes in recovery can vary based on the drug of choice. The study found that when compared to those in treatment for alcoholism, people recovering from opiate abuse were 2.52 times more likely to smoke. People in medication-assisted treatment for opiate abuse are also more likely to be cigarette users. 

Why Not Quit Smoking?

Smoking and recovery from addiction often occur together, as it can be difficult to give up cigarettes while also recovering from addiction to alcohol or drugs. For some people, trying to quit smoking can be an added strain during the recovery process. 

If a person is unable to remain abstinent from drugs and give up smoking simultaneously, this would be a reason to avoid quitting smoking. Given the choice between quitting drugs and giving up cigarettes, discontinuing drug use should be a priority. 

Dangers of Continued Nicotine Use

While giving up drug use should take precedence over quitting smoking, the long term effects of cigarette smoking can be severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that smoking raises the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. It can also have a negative effect on dental health and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cataracts, macular degeneration, infertility, broken bones, miscarriage, birth defects and preterm delivery. 

The effects of smoking can be deadly. The CDC reports that cigarettes are responsible for about 90% of deaths related to lung cancer and 80% of COPD deaths. In men and women, smoking elevates the risk of death from any cause. Given the risk of fatal health consequences associated with nicotine use, giving up smoking is beneficial for those in recovery. 

Benefits of Quitting Smoking While in Recovery

The greatest benefit of quitting smoking while in recovery is that it can improve health and reduce the likelihood of long-term consequences such as cancer and heart disease. Quitting could also improve treatment outcomes.

Recovery can also be an ideal setting for receiving treatment for tobacco addiction. Among patients in recovery, medications and counseling are effective for promoting abstinence from cigarette use. If a person is able to quit smoking while in treatment without jeopardizing their recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, they will enjoy the benefits of remaining cigarette-free. 

If you or a loved one are ready to address a drug or alcohol addiction, contact The Recovery Village today to speak with a representative about receiving the treatment you need to live a healthier life.