It’s Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

July 6, 2015

AAP-Blog-QuitSmoking

Many recovering addicts continue to smoke tobacco long after they have eliminated drugs and alcohol from their bodies. There is of course a psychological comfort or crutch-like component to smoking. However the physical traits of nicotine make smoking a natural candidate for addiction substitution.

A good proportion of addiction counselors would likely leave it at that – smoking is just fine as long as the drugs are long gone.

We have to look at the recovery process more holistically, however. Recovery and the elimination of substances of abuse ultimately should lead to a cleansing of the mind and body. However, smoking can impede that process and leave those in recovery with lingering physical problems. Setting aside the most dangerous long-term issues, such as lung cancer, smoking wreaks havoc on the body in the short term too in the form of:

  • Reduced oxygen circulation throughout the body, lung and heart trouble
  • Lung problem such as obstructive disorders that can be very disruptive to daily life
  • Reduced ability to heal from injury and surgery
  • Cortical thinning of the brain, causing shorter-term cognitive impairment and accelerating the possibility of dementia

Each and every one of the issues above, as well as the myriad of other problems caused by smoking can actually increase the risk of relapse as a result of reduced quality of life. The good news is that many of the worst smoking-related problems can be mitigated or even eliminated within several years of quitting. That’s why it’s never too late. Further, going into it knowing that quitting isn’t easy and that it may take a few, if not many, tries to finally quit makes the process less frustrating.

Smoking can be a short-term crutch for those who are battling to stay off of their substances of abuse. Many counselors and those in recovery worry that trying to quit smoking, along with recovering from substances of abuse, is just too much to handle – depending on the person, this may or may not be a valid concern. Longer-term, however, the chances of staying sober may actually increase by quitting smoking, according to recent research. We look forward to additional research to see if smoking cessation should become an integral part of addiction treatment.

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