How Do I Give Up Smoking in Recovery?
In 2004 Medical News Today estimated that long-term smoking shaves approximately 25 years off the average smoker’s life expectancy. The vast majority of people are familiar with the dangers of cigarette smoke, which the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes as the leading cause of disease, disability and death in the country. However, the public is generally less familiar with how a nicotine addiction might affect recoveries from other addictions to drugs like clonazepam. Can a nicotine relapse motivate a larger drug or alcohol relapse? When is the right time to give up smoking? Does tobacco use trigger other substance cravings? Alcohol and drug abuse certainly causes more immediate and profound damage than cigarettes, but ongoing tobacco use causes serious physical harm and increases other risks. For recovering drug and alcohol addicts, many variables can influence when and how to tackle a nicotine addiction, but it is certainly a valuable long-term goal for anyone in recovery.
Why Recovering Addicts Should Quit Smoking
Most people know the health risks associated with cigarette smoking, but other potential risks apply specifically to recovering addicts including the following:
- Smoking can act as a memory trigger for those who associate it with drugs and alcohol.
- Physical fitness, which smoking typically impairs, can help addiction recoveries.
- The high cost of cigarettes causes unhealthy financial stress for certain people.
- Smoking can increase the risk of diseases that alcohol abuse also negatively affected.
- Growing anti-smoking sentiments can cause stress and conflict in public places.
- Recovering addicts might experience guilt over their ongoing cigarette use.
Furthermore smoking reduces the concentration of monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzymes, which help break down dopamine. This means ongoing cigarette use alters reward signaling in the brain associated with addiction. A study by the Nature journal in 1996 suggested that smoking-related MAO reductions enhance the behavioral and additive properties of other substances like drugs and alcohol.
On the positive side recovering addicts who stop smoking can experience various potential benefits including the following:
- Positive boosts in self-esteem further empower recoveries.
- Restored proper sense of smell helps people better enjoy food.
- The Hypertension journal in 2003 noted that heart rate and blood pressure drop 20 minutes after quitting.
- The American Cancer Society website adds that smoking-related heart disease risk disappears 15 years after quitting.
- The British Medical Journal stated in 2003 that smoking cessation improves recovery times after operations.
The latter study in BMJ is particularly interesting because the study compared current smokers with people who quit just before their surgeries. Likewise addiction involves physical changes to neurobiology, and the same increase in recovery times might apply to people recovering from addiction-related changes.
When to Quit Smoking in Recovery
Some people suggest that recovering addicts should focus first on their drug and alcohol abuse and tackle their nicotine addictions later. Those who espouse this theory usually say people should wait until they have one year of sobriety under their belts. The American Family Physician (AAFP) in 1998 noted that almost 85% of recovering alcoholics are current smokers compared to 25% of the general public. The statistical difference, which highlights the overall connection between addictions to drugs like clonazepam and genetic vulnerabilities, also shows that smoking does not automatically doom other recoveries. However, AAFP refuted any notion that people in recovery need to wait to tackle their nicotine addictions. Everyone is different, but giving up cigarettes arguably increases a person’s ability to stay sober rather than jeopardize it. When should recovering addicts stop smoking? The simple answer is when they are ready. It is reasonable for people to focus first on their drug and alcohol addictions, but for those who ready for the challenge, rehab and recovery is often an ideal time to start. Treatments, therapies and strategies used to stop drug and alcohol abuse can also be applied to nicotine.
How to Give up Smoking
People in rehab should speak with their recovery counselors about giving up cigarettes and prepare for the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that will likely follow. Therapists can typically tailor their treatments to include nicotine addiction as well. Nevertheless, there are also several steps that recovering addicts can take to help themselves stop smoking including the following:
- Strive to view yourself as a non-smoker rather than as someone who needs to quit.
- Utilize hypnosis, mindfulness meditation and delay tactics to reduce cravings.
- Write down reasons you want to quit and regularly reread the list for inspiration.
- Ask friends, family and recovery partners to provide support and encouragement.
- Create rewards for reaching certain tobacco abstinence milestones.
- Start a healthy eating and exercise plan to feel better and avoid gaining weight.
- Attend social support groups that promote a smoke-free environment.
Depending on the substance like clonazepam, addicts must often endure withdrawal symptoms in the early stages of rehab, and some people might prefer tackling the nicotine withdrawal symptoms at the same time. This limits the overall length of time associated with the various withdrawal symptoms. Those who are not ready to stop smoking immediately might consider switching to a brand with less nicotine content and slowly cutting back on the number of cigarettes smoked each day. Other aids might include nicotine replacement products such as gum, inhalers, nasal sprays and patches. It might also help to keep a notebook that tracks how you feel and what you are doing each time you smoke to look for patterns and possible motivations.
Nevertheless, recovering addicts who start smoking again should take immediate precautions to avoid a drug or alcohol relapse. Speak with a therapist or sponsor, and ask recovery partners to provide additional accountability. When ready, attempt to stop smoking again while keeping the primary focus on the overall recovery.
Rehab and Recovery Help
Our admissions coordinators can answer questions and provide information about all forms of addiction care for drugs like clonazepam. We can also check health insurance policies for benefits in case professional treatment is necessary. We are available 24 hours a day, so please call our toll-free helpline now.