Throughout my professional addiction treatment career I have been an advocate for people stopping all addictions when they decide to get into recovery. This includes smoking and chewing tobacco. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues do not agree—in fact, many of them are using nicotine addictively themselves.
I am writing this paper in an attempt to present objective reasons why people in recovery from alcohol and other drugs should also be in recovery for their nicotine addiction—and that nicotine recovery is possible and preferable. Part of my motivation is because I cannot stay silent when people I care about are dying from this addiction and they do not yet see that they have other choices. Fortunately, many addiction treatment programs are now starting to address this problem and have began to initiate nicotine addiction treatment plans.
Unfortunately, many programs—including some of the biggest and best—are afraid to go nicotine free. The rational is that people will not come to the program. I remember this same argument being used by Bar and Restaurant owners in California when people were trying to make those establishment smoking free. Many cried that they would lose their businesses. What actually happened was more people started going to restaurants and the business at bars was not impacted at all. Many addiction treatment programs that went nicotine free discovered the same thing.
A recent Alcohol Alert from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) stated that until recently, alcoholism treatment professionals have generally not addressed the issue of smoking cessation, largely because of the belief that the added stress of quitting smoking would jeopardize an alcoholic’s recovery. This report goes on to state that research has not confirmed this belief.
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