Nicotine Addiction
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Nicotine Addiction in Combination with Drug and Alcohol Dependence

It is quite common for someone who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol to also be addicted to nicotine. Addiction is a constant struggle to keep a comfortable amount of a certain chemical in your bloodstream, and nicotine – especially when smoking cigarettes – is a perfect example of this struggle. The peak and decline of nicotine in the bloodstream happen very quickly, which is why smokers tend to smoke every 30 minutes or so all throughout the day, smoke before bed and smoke the first thing in the morning.

In many ways nicotine addiction is an extension of the other addictions in poly-addiction, meaning that users will often cover up withdrawal or cravings for one drug or alcohol with nicotine. Anyone who has had a multi-addiction that includes nicotine knows that it is a constant battle to quit or cut down on any one of the addictions.

Using Smoking Cessation Options in Rehab 

Nicotine Addiction in Combination with Drug and Alcohol DependenceSo which one should you quit first? Do quit smoking, drinking, and doing drugs all at the same time? Can you even fully beat drug and alcohol cravings when you are still feeling urges for nicotine and giving into those urges?

The easy answer to all these questions is that in a perfect recovery, you should quit all addictions at once – but is any addiction recovery perfect? A more realistic answer and the one that many addiction treatment programs utilize is to take nicotine addiction out of the equations as much as you can, so you can focus on the other addictions. This means getting you on smoking cessation alternative – preferably a measured dosage nicotine patch. Traditionally nicotine patches are used in a step-down format, where you would taper down the dosage of nicotine in steps.

However, the taper down combined with detox from drugs and alcohol can give your body mixed signals, and the combined withdrawals can be too much to allow you to focus on recovery efforts and learning to deal with urges. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms can also add another layer to this already complex process.

Nicotine Replacement in Addiction Recovery

Instead, many find comfort and ease by using nicotine replacement during early recovery from drugs and alcohol. This means finding the moderate dosage of nicotine (Average 7mg per day) that is time delivered, preferably through a patch. This keeps the nicotine levels consistent throughout the day, staves off nicotine withdrawals, and allows you to focus on the withdrawal symptoms of the drugs and alcohol instead.

Nicotine Addiction Facts and Statistics

Nicotine product use and addiction is in a decline right now, thanks to changing social behaviors and even new ways to quit smoking such as vape products, but there are still many that struggle with addiction to tobacco products.

  • In 2018, there are approximately 50 million Americans who are addicted to tobacco products, including cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco, and cigars.
  • Nicotine addiction costs in the U.S. are approximately $193 billion per year. This includes healthcare expenses and time/productivity in business that is lost to smoke breaks.
  • 90% of smokers have already started or become addicted by the time they turn 18 years of age.
  • Because the brain reward system is still developing in the teenage years, if a person starts smoking in their teens, it will be decidedly more difficult for them to quit later in life.
  • Smoking rates have been declining by about 5% each year since 2002.
  • Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 different chemicals. 70 of these chemicals have been recognized as carcinogenic or cancer-causing, while many of the others are considered toxic or harmful to health.
  • 5% of men are smokers, while only 13.5% of women smoke.
  • 3% of smokers are living below the poverty level, while 14.3% are living at or above the poverty level.
  • In 2016 a study concluded that 20.5% of those that identify as LGBT were smokers, compared to a rate of 15.3 amongst those who identify themselves as “straight” or heterosexual.
  • A study showed that during 2007-2010, male military veterans were 5% more likely to smoke than non-veterans (29% compared to 24%).
  • 40% of men living with a mental health condition (anxiety, depression, PTSD, or more serious and debilitating mental health conditions) are smokers, while 34% of women with a mental health conditions smoke.
  • A 2016 study found that adults with disabilities had smoking rates of 21.2%. This is compared to the 14.4% seen in adults without disabilities.
  • The smoking rate in Arizona in 2015 was 14%, much lower than the national rate of 17.5%
  • A 2015 study showed that “vaping” rates are quite high in Arizona, among high school students. 27.5% of high school students admitted to using vape products at least once in the past 30 days. This is compared to the 24.1% national rate.
  • Arizona healthcare costs are estimated at 2.38 billion per year due to smoking.

In the end, the decision comes down to you and the addiction program counselors, on how to tackle a polysubstance addiction that includes nicotine addiction. However, we can say that nicotine addiction is deadly, and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Smoking cessation help is offered as a part of our drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs at Reflections Recovery, and our counselors will set a plan for treating all aspects of your or a loved one’s addictions while under our care.

Our program, combined with exercise therapy, nutritional therapy, and our outdoor adventure programs help to get those in recovery physically active and involved in their health recovery. Utilizing our addiction treatment group activities, many of those who have joined our program were able to quit smoking, quit drug and alcohol use, and find a healthy way of living that inspires them to stay healthy long term.

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