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Smoking Can Hamper Treatment for Alcoholism

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.

According to the findings by the University of Buffalo’ Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) in the US, people who smoke have shorter stays in alcohol treatment programmes than non-smokers and may have poorer treatment outcomes than non-smokers.

The study was led by Kimberly Walitzer, PhD, deputy director and senior research scientist at RIA, who analysed more than 21,000 adult treatment seekers from 253 community outpatient substance abuse clinics across New York State.

“The data suggest that smoking is associated with difficulties in alcohol treatment. Tobacco smokers had shorter treatment durations and were less likely to have achieved their alcohol-related goals at discharge relative to their non-smoking counterparts,” said Kimberly Walitzer, deputy director and senior research scientist at RIA.

This should be a major concern for treatment providers as the majority of people with alcohol disorders are, in fact, smokers, she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, less than 20 percent of people in the U.S. are regular smokers. However, a much higher percentage of people with alcohol use disorders are smokers. Further, both smoking and problem drinking are associated with life challenges such as unemployment, lack of high school diploma or GED, criminal justice involvement, mental illness and/or other substance abuse.

For women, these associations are even stronger. Walitzer’s data indicate that 67 percent of women seeking alcohol treatment were smokers, compared to 61 percent of the men.

The results also show that women who smoke have even more difficult circumstances and poorer alcohol treatment outcomes than men who smoke.

If people can quit smoking when entering alcohol treatment, they may have better alcohol outcomes, the authors added.

The paper appeared in the journal Substance Use and Misuse. (IANS)


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