Sobriety and Cigarettes

Smoking cigarettes is an unhealthy habit – this is a fact of life, one that is not open for debate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that cigarette smoking is responsible for over 480,000 deaths every year throughout the country period of these deaths, over 41,000 are the direct result of secondhand smoke exposure. This equates to roughly one out of every five deaths annually or an average of 1,300 deaths every single day. The CDC also reports that individuals who smoke die an average of 10 years earlier than those who do not smoke. While the amount of Americans that smoke on a daily basis has been decreasing every year for the past several decades, if smoking continues at its current rate among youth under the age of 18, it is estimated that 5.6 million men and women will die prematurely from a smoking related illness by the time they are adults.

The implications of cigarette smoking are far-reaching, and concern much more than the health of American citizens. Cigarettes have a severe economic impact, and cost the United States billions of dollars annually. It is estimated that the total economic cost of smoking is currently over $300 billion a year – $156 billion lost in Nationwide productivity as a result of secondhand smoke exposure and premature death, and $170 billion in medical care for men and women over the age of 18.

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Cigarettes and Addiction Recovery

Smoking cigarettes is not unique to any demographic, and men and women of all ages and walks of life engage in nicotine use. However, the rates of cigarette smoking are exceptionally high among men and women who are in addiction recovery. The Oxford University Press published a study titled, Smoking Prevalence in Addiction Treatment: A Review.” the study concludes that individuals who are in treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse smoke more regularly than members of the general population. The lowest rate of smoking prevalence reported during any single year with 65 percent – and men and women who were involved in methadone maintenance programs were found to have the highest rates of daily cigarette smoking.

Despite the fact that nicotine is highly addictive, most treatment programs allow their clients to smoke cigarettes for a number of reasons. For many, nicotine is more difficult to quit than illicit substances like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. Individuals who are in early recovery might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of giving up smoking – being asked to do so can be triggering and extremely stressful. At Immersion Recovery Center, we encourage our clients to work towards total abstinence. However, we also encourage taking things one day at a time, one step at a time and one victory at a time. Giving up dangerous and immediately life-threatening chemical substances is the first step – giving up nicotine is something that can happen down the line, once an individual is more stable in his or her sobriety.

Of course, if you have been experiencing health-related consequences as a result of smoking cigarettes and you are looking to quit immediately, it is entirely possible to do so at any point in time. We have compiled a list of tips that might prove to be beneficial if you are still in early recovery and you are looking to quit nicotine altogether.

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Quitting Cigarettes While in Early Recovery

The Food and Drug Administration published a report that suggests roughly 70 percent of all smokers in the United States over the age of 18 want to quit. Roughly 55 percent of smokers had attempted to quit within the past year, and only 7 percent were successful in doing so. When you first quit nicotine, the physical body will begin to go through withdrawal. The more common symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal include insomnia and other sleep related issues, irritability, anxiety, and increase in appetite, difficulty concentrating and temporary feelings of depression. While these symptoms can be uncomfortable and disruptive to day-to-day life, they generally only last for three or four weeks and then go away entirely. If you are attempting to quit, it is important that you are aware of your personal triggers – nicotine can have relapse triggers, just the same as your substance of choice. For example, if you were a heavy drinker you might feel triggered when playing pool at a local dive bar or going to a restaurant that you used to get drunk at during happy hour. The same goes for cigarettes. Perhaps you used to smoke while enjoying a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. Because of this, drinking coffee can prove to be triggering. Be aware of your personal triggers, and develop a range of techniques that will effectively help you stave off your cravings.

This is not to say that you have to quit smoking cigarettes. It comes highly recommended that individuals who are new to recovery avoid making any major changes within their first year of sobriety – this includes quitting cigarettes. If you feel that attempting to quit will do more harm than good, allow yourself a break and commit to quitting once you have worked through the 12 steps and once you feel more stable in your sobriety. When it comes to quitting nicotine in early recovery, there are several pros and cons. We have compiled a list of these pros and cons – feel free to make your own, and reach out to Immersion Recovery Center if you have any additional questions.

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The Pros and Cons of Quitting Nicotine

The Pros of Quitting Cigarettes:

  • Quitting smoking will improve your senses, making your hearing more sharp, improving your sense of taste and even making your vision better.
  • It is no secret that smoking cigarettes goes hand in hand with early aging. Quitting smoking can not only reduce wrinkles and other signs of premature aging, but it can work to clear up blemishes.
  • Quitting smoking is a good idea for men and women who suffer from high cholesterol levels. Quitting will lower the levels of fat and cholesterol circulating in the blood, while helping to reduce the buildup of new fatty deposits within the arteries.
  • Smoking cigarettes is currently the leading cause of heart disease and heart attacks. Quitting can help to reduce heart risks while actively lowering blood pressure.
  • Quitting sooner rather than later will stop long damage and prevent emphysema. It is important to quit smoking before you do permanent damage to your lungs. While there is no current cure for emphysema, quitting will help protect your lungs from the devastation of emphysema later on in life.
  • Quitting will increase the strength of your muscles and your bones, preventing osteoporosis.
  • Men and women who smoke cigarettes on a daily or near daily basis are far more likely to develop cancer. Quitting smoking prevents new DNA damage from occurring, and is the best way to lower cancer risk.

The Cons of Quitting Cigarettes:

  • For men and women in early addiction recovery, the prospect of giving up cigarettes can be overwhelming.
  • Smoking cigarettes can help to reduce stress levels.
  • If an individual attempts to quit smoking unsuccessfully, he or she might feel generally discouraged and might be more inclined to throw in the towel.

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Immersion Recovery Center – One Day at a Time

At Immersion Recovery Center, we encourage our clients to take things one day at a time. While maintaining complete abstinence from mood and mind altering chemical substances is essential, we understand that giving up chemical substances like nicotine and caffeine does not present the same urgency. While we do encourage our clients to work towards total abstinence, we understand that attempting to give up nicotine within the first year of sobriety can pull focus away from the clinical recovery program. For more information on smoking cigarettes in recovery and for more advice on how to successfully quit long-term give us a call at (888) 693-1604, we are available to help you 24/7.

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Reviewed for accuracy by :

Serving as the Inpatient Clinical Director at Immersion Recovery Center, Susan will work directly with staff members, clients, and family members to ensure the clinical program remains as effective and individualized as possible. Susan is no stranger to the fields of behavioral health and addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, working in an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, acute stabilization and nearly all other settings in the realm of addiction recovery.