In my experience working at AToN Center, a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility, I was initially skeptical about the inclusion of smoking cessation program this early in treatment. I had believed in a perspective that quitting smoking might be “too much” for a person who was giving up another addiction that was much more devastating to their lifestyle. In seeing some research done on the topic, however, and taking a new tact with some clients, I started to change my mind.
Research indicates that when a person quits smoking, as well as another addiction, that they have lower rates of relapse on their primary addiction. I have also seen residents become responsive to the idea that quitting their primary substance is basically the same process as quitting smoking. The tools for relapse prevention and coping skills can be applied to quitting any addictive behavior.
As we developed a smoking cessation section of the master treatment plan, more and more residents appeared interested in this option. Some residents decided to start using a nicotine replacement plan with gums or patches that they continued after AToN. Others decided to ask a medical provider if a medication could be used to decrease the cravings. The more determined few decided to taper down their smoking over a week and then pick a quit date on their own. Upon graduation from the program I’ve heard many residents express and extra level of pride knowing that they are leaving not just clean from their primary substances of abuse but also from nicotine.