Tobacco Cessation Can Improve Long-term Outcomes in Addiction Treatment

Tobacco smoking rates among US adults with significant depression and/or substance use disorder (SUD) declined between 2006 and 2019 at a steeper rate than among individuals without substantial depression and/or SUD, according to research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The findings, which were published in JAMA in April, suggest that groups at risk for nicotine addiction can be reached by tobacco cessation efforts. While such efforts have been effective, the NIDA researchers noted that individuals with psychiatric disorders still reported higher smoking rates than those without, although the gap is narrowing.

“This study shows us that, at a population level, reductions in tobacco use are achievable for people with psychiatric conditions, and smoking cessation should be prioritized along with treatments for substance use, depression, and other mental health disorders for people who experience them,” said NIDA Director Nora Volkow, MD, co-author of the study, in a news release.

“Therapies to help people stop smoking are safe, effective, and may even enhance the long-term success of concurrent treatments for more severe mental health symptoms in individuals with psychiatric disorders by lowering stress, anxiety, depression, and by improving overall mood and quality of life.”

The NIDA study analyzed data from more than 558,000 individuals 18 and older who participated in National Surveys on Drug Use and Health between 2006 and 2019. While individuals with major depression, SUD, or both were more likely to smoke cigarettes, cessation rates among these populations improved during the period studied.

“It is crucial that healthcare providers treat all the health issues that a patient experiences, not just their depression or drug use disorder at a given point in time,” Dr. Volkow said. “To do this, smoking cessation therapies need to be integrated into existing behavioral health treatments. The result will be longer and healthier lives for all people.”

The Harmony Campus is Tobacco-Free

Harmony Foundation has been providing the holistic approach to addiction treatment Dr. Volkow suggests. The treatment team at Harmony works daily to address all relevant needs a client might have. Our cutting-edge addiction treatment at Estes Park in Colorado includes tobacco cessation. Consequently, clients are not allowed to bring any tobacco products to our tobacco-free campus.

Like other drugs, nicotine engages the reward cycle of the brain. “A transient surge of endorphins in the reward circuits of the brain causes a slight, brief euphoria when nicotine is administered. This surge is much briefer than the ‘high’ associated with other drugs,” explains the relevant NIDA page. “However, like other drugs of abuse, nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in these reward circuits, which reinforces the behavior of taking the drug.”

Since tobacco engages the same brain circuits as other addictive substances, smoking is counterproductive in recovery. Harmony offers a tobacco cessation group as part of its holistic addiction treatment to help those seeking additional support. If you are interested in beginning a life of recovery and interested to hear more about how quitting nicotine can help your goal, our admissions team is here to help.

Since addiction is a biopsychosocial and spiritual disease, Harmony’s treatment program promotes physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, empowering patients to embark upon a lifelong journey of recovery. All our services are provided in a safe, culturally sensitive, and trauma-informed manner.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, or you have questions about our programs and workshops, call us today at (970) 432-8075 to get the help needed as soon as possible. Our experienced staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.