MONDAY, March 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- People recovering from illicit drug abuse are more likely to be successful if they don't smoke cigarettes, a new study finds.
Most illicit drug users also smoke cigarettes, but many substance abuse programs do not include treatment for nicotine dependence, the study authors said.
"The thinking in clinical settings has been that asking patients to quit cigarette smoking while they try to stop using drugs is 'too difficult,' or that smoking may be helpful in remaining abstinent from alcohol and drugs, but it is not related whether or not one remains abstinent from illicit drug use over the long term," said study leader Renee Goodwin.
However, the investigators found that smokers were twice as likely as nonsmokers to relapse within three years.
For the study, Goodwin, of the department of epidemiology at Columbia University's School of Public Health in New York City, and colleagues analyzed U.S. government data on nearly 35,000 adults enrolled in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
The findings showed that relapse occurred in 11 percent of those who smoked at the start of the study and continued smoking, 8 percent of those who quit smoking, and 6.5 percent of never-smokers, the researchers reported in a Columbia University news release.
The study's lead author, Andrea Weinberger, pointed out that "quitting smoking will improve anyone's health." She is an assistant professor in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine department of epidemiology and population health in New York City.
"But our study shows that giving up cigarettes may be even more important for adults in recovery from illicit substance use disorders, since it may help them stay sober," Weinberger explained in the news release.
Goodwin added, "If research continues to show a relationship between smoking and relapse to substance use among those in recovery, making tobacco treatment a standard part of treatment for illicit substance use disorders may be a critical service to provide to adults toward improving substance treatment outcomes over the long term."
The study was published online recently in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
SOURCE: Columbia University, news release, March 8, 2017