Cigarette Smoking and Drug and Alcohol Addiction
For whatever reason, and it may have to do a lot with addictive personalities, many addicted to drugs or alcohol smoke cigarettes. Obviously, this is not healthy, but alcohol drinking and addictive drug use is far worse.
There are different philosophies in the addiction treatment world as to whether someone should stop smoking while they are being receiving treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. There are arguments all over the internet saying that one approach is better than the other, that it doesn’t matter, and it depends on the person. A good number of treatment facilities do not permit smoking, so the client has no choice if they go to that facility.
First things first
We take the approach of treating the most severe addiction first. Most who come to our treatment facility smoke. That said, virtually all have a serious addiction to drugs or alcohol as their primary diagnosis. If the client wants to stop smoking while they are receiving treatment for their primary diagnosis, we help them do so. However, we do not push them to do so. We permit smoking but only in designated smoking areas.
The reason we do not push them to quit smoking is based upon our experience treating clients over almost the past five years. Suffering addicts that come to us for detox and ongoing treatment are in very rough shape. Their addiction to drugs and alcohol has put them through the wringer both physically and mentally.
A large number of the clients started using drugs and smoking cigarettes in their early to mid-teenage years. We find that their smoking addiction is just as entrenched as their drug/alcohol addiction. Because of this fact, we focus on the more immediately lethal primary diagnosis, which is their addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Smoking is a terrible and unhealthy habit. That said, for the smoker, smoking a cigarette tends to provide a temporary calming effect. Someone going through detox and treatment for drug or alcohol addiction often longs for the temporary stress release comes from smoking a cigarette.
This is not surprising because people going through this process are invariably going to find feel uneasy and extremely uncomfortable. This is to be expected since the self-medication of consuming drugs and alcohol has been taken away. Thus, there is a feeling of loss. In order not add to the feeling’s uneasiness, discomfort and loss we permit smoking in designated smoking areas.
Treat the primary addiction
Let’s be very clear – we are not advocating smoking. There is abundant evidence that smoking causes great harm. But for the suffering drug or alcohol addict who smokes, it typically is not their smoking of cigarettes that is causing the lion’s share of negative consequences. It is not the cigarettes that impair them to the point of stealing and other illegal activities.
Aside from secondhand smoke, it is not the cigarettes that cause great harm to others, including complete strangers. What has caused the grave and negative consequences experienced by someone in active addiction are the drugs and alcohol. Hence, we recommend the primary addiction be treated first.