What About Smoking?

pexels-photo-27232You are reminded in some self help groups that Alcohol is a drug. Seventy percent of addicts and eighty five percent of alcoholics smoke. Wow, talk about addiction.  Treatment programs talk about a holistic approach. They use a medical model, but they allow smoking. One of the excuses is “lets take care of one thing at a time”. Really?  If that were the case then they’d allow the heroin user to drink beer while they were in treatment. I think is more that that.  Nicotine products are hard to quit. But the truth is almost a half a million people die each year from smoking.  People don’t die from quitting they die from smoking.

My experience is that most smokers do want to quit but feel hopeless around quitting, so they say they like it. If you give smokers the tools, information, support and role models quitting becomes possible. But if therapists and sponsors talk about lets take care of one thing at a time the addiction continues. Addition is then supported by the very people who are there to help.

Why are treatment programs allowing smoking? There is no smoking in prison, bars or public places, but in the place to recover smoking is allowed, hmmm? In treatment I don’t think lighting up a cigarette after a stressful group is the best way to handle stress. Deep breathing will help you relax and lower stress. Nicotine is an addictive substance. Along with addictive substances come addictive behaviors. How many people are sitting in groups preoccupied with smoking? How many miss the message of recovery due to their preoccupation with smoking?  Would it be insane to say my I please have lung cancer or emphysema? Well that’s what are you asking for when you smoke? How many smokers on the way to the gym light up? Smokers need help.

Cigarette smokers die ten years before nonsmokers. Why don’t self help programs have an opinion on this?  I know they say,  “It’s an outside issue”. Most smokers are aware of the health risks of smoking and want to quit. The urge to smoke will go away whether you smoke or not. If you quit smoking it goes away for good.  Knowing the consequences in the future seem to have little to do with what the smoker does today. Lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease are all consequences that occur down the road. Stopping smoking now will significantly improve your health. Those who stop before 40 do recover overtime from the effects of smoking.

A client’s health is severely comprised when they come into treatment. Allowing smoking and to continue to damage there health just does not seem to make sense. Like other drugs nicotine affects the brain and blood flow. Programs that allow smoking at the least need to provide real smoke cessation programing for staff and the clients.  Nicotine addiction is a chronic illness. The staff  are the role models and modeling addictive behavior seems self-defeating.  Non-smoking client should not have to suffer in treatment due to someone else smoking.  About fifty thousand people die from second hand smoke a year.

I know people that have been diagnoses with stage 4 lung cancer and given 6 months to live. There’s no time to recover then. Now I get that quitting isn’t easy.  I was a smoker and I struggled. One of the biggest struggles is having to pass through a cloud of smoke going to and from a meeting.  The quitting process can be lonely when your peers smoke.  I did it with the help of the American cancer society and smoke stoppers.  I quit smoking after a year out of treatment, but if I was offered smoke cessation a may have quit earlier. I’m 25 years smoke free. The consequences of smoking can catch up to you even after quitting as they did for me. Thank god I stopped and have the tools to stay stopped.

What do you think? Are you in a full recovery if you smoke?