We know tobacco is bad for you, but when individuals are tackling addiction to heroin, cocaine, meth or prescription painkillers, are you really going to deny them a few cigarettes?
In a recent Scientific American podcast Christopher Intagliata addressed the topic of instituting bans on tobacco at rehab centers. At first glance it seems obvious. Tobacco-related illnesses kill nearly half a million Americans every year, and statistics show that among those who abuse drugs and alcohol more than three-quarters use tobacco.
Sending people home from rehab not just drug- or alcohol-free but tobacco-free too sounds like a great idea. However one study conducted at an Ohio center for addiction treatment found that, when they imposed a smoking ban, the number of smokers who completed rehab dropped nearly in half. The study, which appeared in the Journal of Social Work Practice In the Addictions, also found that both smokers and non-smokers stuck with the program for fewer days than they had before the ban.
That doesn’t mean the researchers behind this study are discouraging treatment centers from trying tobacco bans or looking into other ways to curb tobacco use. It can be important to long-term sobriety, because previous studies indicate that quitting tobacco and hard drugs at the same time ups the odds patients will stay clean in the long run.
The trick is to figure out how to help patients kick their nicotine craving without turning them off treatment altogether.
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