Giving up cigarettes linked with recovery from illicit substance use disorders

March 7, 2017, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Smokers in recovery from illicit drug use disorders are at greater risk of relapsing three years later compared with those who do not smoke cigarettes. Results of the study by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York appear online in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Most adults who have illicit drug use disorders also smoke cigarettes. Yet while treatments for substance use disorders traditionally include and require concurrent for addiction to all substances—including treatment for and required abstinence from alcohol and any other illicit substance use—treatment for nicotine dependence has not routinely been part of treatment for illicit substance use problems.

"The thinking in clinical settings has been that asking patients to quit cigarette smoking while they try to stop using drugs is "too difficult," or that smoking may be helpful in remaining abstinent from alcohol and drugs, but it is not related whether or not one remains abstinent from use over the long term," said Renee Goodwin, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, who led the research.

The researchers studied data from 34,653 adults enrolled in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) who were assessed at two time points, three years apart, on substance use, substance use disorders, and related physical and mental disorders. Only those with a history of illicit substance use disorders according to DSM-IV criteria were included in the final sample. Daily smokers and nondaily smokers had approximately twice the odds of relapsing to drug use at the end of the three-year period compared with nonsmokers. The relationships held even after controlling for demographics and other factors including mood, anxiety, alcohol use disorders, and .

Specifically, among those with remitted substance use disorders who were smokers at the beginning of the study, more than one in ten (11 percent) who continued smoking three years later relapsed to illicit substance use three years later, while only 8 percent of those who had quit smoking and 6.5 percent of never smokers relapsed to substance use three years later. Among those who were non-smokers, smoking three years later was associated with significantly greater odds of substance use disorders relapse compared to those who remained non-smokers.

"Quitting smoking will improve anyone's health," says lead author Andrea Weinberger, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "But our study shows that giving up cigarettes may be even more important for adults in recovery from illicit substance use disorders since it may help them stay sober."

"If research continues to show a relationship between smoking and relapse to substance use among those in recovery, making tobacco treatment a standard part of treatment for illicit may be a critical service to provide to adults toward improving substance treatment outcomes over the long term," suggested Dr. Goodwin.

Explore further: Study's message to recovering alcoholics: Quit smoking to stay sober

Related Stories

Study's message to recovering alcoholics: Quit smoking to stay sober

September 30, 2015
Adult smokers with a history of problem drinking who continue smoking are at a greater risk of relapsing three years later compared with adults who do not smoke. Results of the study by researchers at Columbia University's ...

Does smoking hamper treatment for alcohol abuse?

December 8, 2014
A new study has shown that smoking can inhibit the success of treatment for alcohol abuse, putting people who are addicted to both tobacco and alcohol in a double bind.

People with mental illness make up large share of US smokers

March 20, 2013
(HealthDay)—Adults with a mental illness or a substance-abuse disorder represent about 25 percent of the U.S. population but account for nearly 40 percent of all cigarettes smoked in the country, according to a new study.

Incidence of psychiatric disorders has increased in a shrinking population of smokers

January 26, 2016
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute have found that while cigarette smoking rates have declined among younger people in the United States, those who do smoke are ...

Mixed news on drug abuse among lesbian, gay Americans

October 13, 2016
(HealthDay)—Lesbian, gay and bisexual adults have higher rates of substance use and mental illness than their straight counterparts, a U.S. government report shows.

Pot smokers may face five times greater risk of alcohol abuse

March 8, 2016
(HealthDay)—People who smoke pot may be five times more likely to develop a problem with alcohol, such as addiction, a new study says.

Recommended for you

Warning labels on alcohol containers highly deficient, new research shows

May 21, 2018
Current health warning labels on alcohol beverage containers in New Zealand are highly deficient, new research from the University of Otago, Wellington shows.

Serving smaller alcoholic drinks could reduce the U.K.'s alcohol consumption

May 14, 2018
New research published in Addiction, conducted by researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield, highlights the potential benefits of reducing the standard serving size of alcoholic beverages.

Anti-alcoholism drug shows promise in animal models

May 3, 2018
Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have successfully tested in animals a drug that, they say, may one day help block the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that incessantly coax people with alcoholism to drink. ...

FDA-approved drugs to treat diabetes and obesity may reduce cocaine relapse and help addicted people break the habit

April 28, 2018
Cocaine and other drugs of abuse hijack the natural reward circuits in the brain. In part, that's why it's so hard to quit using these substances. Moreover, relapse rates hover between 40 and 60 percent, similar to rates ...

Buprenorphine may be safer than methadone if treatment duration is longer, study suggests

April 20, 2018
The less commonly prescribed opioid substitute buprenorphine may be safer than methadone for problem opioid users, especially if used during the first month of treatment, according to a study which includes University of ...

Binge-eating mice reveal obesity clues

April 9, 2018
Obesity is a growing issue in many countries, accelerated by easy access to calorie-dense foods that are pleasurable to eat (known as an 'obesogenic environment'). But while it's clear that eating too much leads to weight ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.