Quitting Drugs but Still Smoking Cigarettes: The Risks

If you’re in the midst of substance abuse treatment or recently released from a drug rehab center, we first want to congratulate you for taking the important first step in facing your addiction. Drug addiction is a powerful monster, and it’s one that can be incredibly difficult to overcome.

Thanks to facilities like BlueCrest Recovery Center in Woodland Park, NJ, there is hope for life after addiction. While most people come to our facility for help dealing with drugs or alcohol addiction, many of our patients also use tobacco as well, which has its own risks when it comes to addiction treatment. Data from the NIH found that as many as 97% of those entering treatment for drugs or alcohol abuse use tobacco, which is an alarming statistic.

Smoking Cigarettes After Treatment Has Its Own Risks

While there is no denying the very real risks of drugs and alcohol, smoking in itself is not something that should be looked at as a viable option for those recently released from drug rehabilitation programs. As is the case with all types of drugs, nicotine use has major risks that, in some cases, can be even more deadly than illegal drugs themselves. A study from Minnesota found that 50% of deaths for patients in treatment were related to tobacco use, while only 33% were from drugs or alcohol.

Scientists have found a close association between smoking and drug use. A few of these findings are quite telling:

  • Opioids, including heroin and methadone, have been found to be associated with higher rates of tobacco use.
  • Nicotine as well as alcohol and drugs all stimulate behaviors in the brain that have been linked to addictive behavior.
  • Nicotine use during the teen years and early adulthood has been linked to changes in the brain which may make individuals more susceptible to drug addiction later in life.

Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

If you’re still struggling with smoking during rehab, or after you’ve left a facility, there are a few tips that can help you finally overcome this powerful addiction.

  • You’re not alone – As is the case with drug or alcohol addiction, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone when dealing with your addiction to nicotine. There are a variety of resources available to you, including doctors, Nicotine Anonymous, nicotine patches, and resources from organizations like the American Cancer Society, among others.
  • Focus on what you learned in recovery – If you’ve been through treatment, you likely understand your triggers. Use the resources you were given during drug treatment, including calling your sponsor, staying busy, and developing a routine.
  • Identify and recognize withdrawal symptoms – In the same way that there are withdrawal symptoms from drugs or alcohol, quitting smoking can also cause symptoms. These symptoms may include nervousness, difficulty concentrating, and even irritability. If you’re feeling some of these symptoms, realize that they won’t last forever and that they should wane over time.

Quitting Smoking Is Great for Your Health

If you’re on the road to recovery from drugs or alcohol but are still smoking, the time is now to quit. Don’t swap one addiction for another. Giving up cigarettes will not only be good for your health but will also help to rid your body of another addiction that has control over you. For more information on how to deal with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our addiction specialists today at 973-453-5384 or through our online contact form.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3280337/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12028854
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4451244/

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