For many people, alcohol and cigarettes go hand in hand, but research on the link between drinking and smoking is relatively limited, which makes it difficult to know how smoking during or after treatment for alcoholism may affect the recovery process. However, in one recent study of the relationship between cigarette smoking and the risk of substance use relapse, researchers found that quitting smoking can have a significant positive impact on alcohol recovery. Alcoholics in recovery who stop smoking seem to relapse less often than those who don’t.
Smoking and Alcohol Recovery
It makes sense that cigarettes would inhibit recovery from alcoholism, as nicotine is an addictive substance and smoking is considered a type of addiction. Published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the latest study on smoking and drinking followed more than 30,000 adults with a past alcohol use disorder (AUD) enrolled in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The study participants were assessed at two points in time, three years apart, for substance use, substance use disorders, and related physical and mental disorders. According to their findings, daily smokers and nondaily smokers had approximately double the rate of relapse back to alcohol dependence when compared with nonsmokers.
Long-Term Recovery from Alcohol Abuse
It’s no secret that drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes isn’t good for your health, but this new study suggests that smoking cigarettes while recovering from alcoholism may also have a negative impact on an addict’s chances of long-term recovery from substance abuse. “Quitting smoking will improve anyone’s health,” says study author Renee Goodwin, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “But our study shows that giving up cigarettes is even more important for adults in recovery from alcohol since it will help them stay sober.” The researchers also noted that “Concurrent treatment of cigarette smoking when treating AUDs may help improve long-term alcohol outcomes and reduce the negative consequences of both substances.”
Drinking, Smoking, and Depression
Alcohol and cigarettes are the two most widely used addictive substances in the United States, and not only are people who smoke more likely to drink, and vice versa, people who smoke and drink also have an unusual tendency to suffer from major depression. In a 2014 study examining the interactions between cigarette use, alcohol use, and depression, researchers found that a person who drinks alcohol and smokes cigarettes faces a higher risk of adverse health outcomes than a person who only drinks alcohol or just smokes cigarettes. By quitting smoking, alcoholics in recovery can reduce their risk of major depression, lower their risk of death, and improve their overall physical and mental health, among other significant improvements. Although smoking cessation is often seen as a low priority in a society where drug addiction has become a national epidemic, research shows that offering anti-smoking therapies during recovery for alcoholics could save lives.
Contact BRS Rehab for More Information About Alcoholics in Recovery
These study findings are significant because they support the hypothesis that smoking cigarettes contributes to alcohol addiction, which is something that many people don’t realize. All too often, people continue smoking throughout treatment and after they have completed their rehab program, relying on cigarettes to fill the void that alcohol once filled, not knowing that continuing smoking could be inhibiting their recovery. For more information about the impact of smoking on recovery from alcoholism, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today and speak to an experienced substance abuse recovery counselor about your options.