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Tobacco Use in Addiction Treatment

A variety of methods are used to help an individual to get through addiction detox and treatment.  There are also ways that an addict themselves might use to help them cope or relax while in treatment.  One of such is tobacco use.  In fact, an extremely large portion of individuals who are in addiction treatment smoke tobacco.  According to a study published in the Society for the Study of Addiction, when compared to the general populace, smoking is more prominent among those in addiction treatment.

The researchers believe that this could be attributed to biological, as well as cultural factors.  Joseph Guydish, lead researcher of the study and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco states, “In the U.S., we talk a lot about the environmental and cultural factors that drive smoking in addiction treatment. For example, a lot of people work in our addiction treatment system are people who themselves were addicted and are now in recovery.  So sometimes, not always, staff members in these programs who smoke at higher rates than the general population smoke together and use it as a way to bond with their clients and build rapport.”

Results of the Study

The researchers had also set out discover if this trend was purely within the United States or internationally as well.  They were able to cull several different studies from various countries to review including Germany, Italy, Australia, France, and several others.  The drugs treated throughout the studies varied, but the prevalence of smoking throughout all of them varied from 41.1 percent to 100 percent.

The results of the study showed an 84% rate of smoking tobacco for those in addiction treatment, and the pooled estimate of smoking prevalence for those in matched populations was 31%.  The overall difference in pooled estimates being 52%.  The fact that it appears that a large portion of those in addiction treatment both in our country and internationally, smoke tobacco is a very enlightening fact.

How Tobacco Ties into Opiates

The study shows that there seems to be a larger connection between opiates and nicotine.  Guydish references the fact that some studies say that it assists with withdrawal symptoms. He also discusses that it could be due to the fact that smoking, like many other substances, releases dopamine into the brain which can activate reward mechanisms.  He further states, “It does it usually through some intermediate routes that are different from how alcohol or opiates activate the reward mechanisms, but it does the same thing. People who are seeking chemical rewards through drugs often include nicotine because it does some of the same things.”

Somewhat in conjunction with the release of dopamine, there is also the factor that many people using smoking as a way to relieve stress.  Being that treatment and recovery can contain many difficult and arduous periods, smoking tobacco may help as a calming or stress relieving influence.  Whether it be having to confront a difficult area of their past, aches, and pains of withdrawals, attempting to repair broken relationships, or having to reintegrate into society, individuals can often use tobacco to help calm their nerves in these types of situations.

In reference to the studies showing how prevalent smoking is in addiction treatment, Guydish makes note of the smoking-related health conditions and deaths in this group of people.  He states, “Not always but often smoking is not addressed. People in drug abuse treatment end up dying of tobacco-related causes downstream a lot more often than people in the general population because they smoke a lot more.”

Seeking Treatment for Yourself or A Loved One With An Addiction

Addiction can be a very difficult battle to attempt to fight on your own, which is why there are treatment centers out there to help.  Addiction is a very unique condition, in that it is different for everyone.  Each person has different underlying issues and difficulties that led them into using drugs or alcohol.  It is important to address these underlying factors as part of treatment for their addiction.  Not all treatment centers actually address these individual struggles as part of the addiction, but rather use a cookie cutter approach to addiction treatment.  We know you want only the best treatment for yourself or a loved one, and can help find the center that will be the best fit. Our advisors are here to answer any questions you may have about addiction treatment facilities and can help to locate the best private inpatient rehab center for whoever is struggling.

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