Why a Non-Smoking Addiction Recovery Centre Can Be Advantageous

Picture this: you’re on a path to healing from addiction, seeking solace in a place that is meant to heal your body and mind. However, the air around you whirls with cigarette smoke and the lingering scent of dirty ashtrays.

It’s hardly the environment for the journey of long-lasting sobriety you’re aiming for.

Perhaps this is surprising: Tobacco dependence is often the only addiction not addressed by most drug/alcohol treatment programs. However, this doesn’t mean that tobacco addiction isn’t on the radar. Recently, there has been a growing awareness of the pros and cons of choosing a non-smoking drug/alcohol recovery centre. 

Such a choice can make a big difference further down the road and should be given serious consideration.

In a world where health-conscious decisions are becoming the norm, it only makes sense that the same ethos is extended to addiction recovery centres.

At Camino Recovery we have chosen to provide a non-smoking recovery experience for a number of reasons. While we appreciate that this approach might not suit everyone, we have seen firsthand how a smoke-free, holistic environment can produce a positive effect on treatment outcomes and result in lasting change.

Is a non-smoking addiction recovery centre the right fit for you?

Research has long demonstrated the detrimental effects of smoking on overall health – no one will argue that. However, the link between smoking and substance abuse has also been acknowledged by researchers and clinicians alike.

Studies have shown that individuals with substance abuse issues are more likely to smoke cigarettes than those without. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that roughly 65–85% of people with addiction also smoke. This statistic highlights the strong connection between the two behaviours.

Understanding the science behind the connection between smoking and substance abuse sheds some light on why opting for a non-smoking addiction recovery centre might be a smart move.

Here are some of the reasons why choosing a non-smoking recovery centre might be your best option:

1. A non-smoking recovery centre may result in a higher success rate and reduce the risk of relapse

Research has highlighted the intricate patterns that exist between smoking and substance abuse. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that not only triggers its own cycle of dependence, but it also interacts with the brain’s reward pathways, potentially amplifying the desire for other addictive substances.

Smoking can serve as both a trigger or a subconscious association with drinking and/or using other substances. In other words, smoking and substance abuse often become deeply intertwined, with cues for one behaviour triggering the desire for the other. This association can affect the likelihood of relapse if not addressed.

A study published in Alcohol Research & Health, found that those who quit smoking during their substance abuse treatment had a higher likelihood of long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol than those who didn’t.

Another research study, published in Drug Alcohol Dependence, found that while not completely understood, tobacco use is associated with a greater risk of relapse in alcohol and illicit drug use. The same study reported that treatment of tobacco dependence is associated with enhanced, not decreased, sobriety from alcohol and other drugs.

Addiction recovery is not just about overcoming the immediate challenges of substance abuse – it’s about planning for long-term health and fulfilment. The research currently suggests that breaking free from nicotine during addiction treatment may result in higher success rates and create a more advantageous environment for long-term, sustainable recovery.

2. A non-smoking recovery centre can help reduce the likelihood of addiction transfer

Wellbeing - Camino Recovery

Addiction transfer is replacing one addiction with another, and it often happens in recovery as people look for other emotional crutches to replace their primary addiction. For example, someone may substitute taking drugs or consuming alcohol with excessive eating, gambling, video games or, of course, smoking. 

In fact, it is not uncommon for people to start smoking in treatment. People can come in with one addiction and leave with another, and that is problematic – particularly with an addiction as damaging as smoking.

Of course, to some degree, addiction transfer is inevitable during treatment. Part of a successful recovery is to identify any new behaviours that arise as the primary addiction is removed, and to find new, healthier coping strategies to replace them.

Going to a non-smoking recovery centre plays a crucial role in lessening the risk of adopting unhealthy behaviours, like smoking, by eliminating nicotine altogether – for smokers and non-smokers alike! 

Research backs this up. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment conducted a meta-analysis of smoking cessation interventions in those with substance abuse issues. The findings emphasised the importance of addressing smoking concurrently with substance abuse to prevent addiction transfer.

3. The absence of smoking can help accelerate emotional healing

Emotions play a significant role in addiction treatment because they can act as both triggers and coping mechanisms. Smoking is often seen as a way to manage emotions and provides a temporary escape or relief from negative feelings. However, this coping strategy can actually hinder genuine emotional processing and healing.

Research confirms the intricate relationship between smoking, emotions, and addiction. For example, this study explored the change in cigarette consumption and its onset of depressive symptoms. The longitudinal study followed 688 adolescents and young adults over a 13-year span. The findings show that smoking reduction was correlated with improvements in emotional wellbeing.

The absence of smoking as a coping mechanism encourages those in addiction recovery to access their emotions more quickly and with greater clarity. Rather than going for a smoke when they feel anxious, angry, etc. they can address any emotions that arise – in a safe and supportive space – and begin to explore healthier ways to manage challenging emotions, accelerating the process of emotional healing.

4. Group environments can work better in a non-smoking recovery centre as subgroups are less likely to form

people hugging smiling man with alcohol addiction during group therapy

In the realm of addiction recovery, the importance of a supportive and cohesive community cannot be overstated. An intriguing aspect that distinguishes non-smoking addiction recovery centres is their ability to foster a more unified, cohesive group environment.

Because of the key role group dynamics play in recovery, non-smoking centres may be able to harness this power more effectively.

While smoking can be seen as a bonding point for some individuals, it does inadvertently create divisions. Additionally, the elimination of smoking-related subgroups can promote a sense of equality and mutual understanding among participants, as described in this research study from Alcohol Research & Health.

In a non-smoking recovery centre, the absence of smoking-related subgroups allows for a more inclusive atmosphere, where clients can focus on shared goals and challenges without distractions or divisions.

5. A non-smoking recovery centre can improve mental distress and quality of life during and after inpatient treatment

There’s no doubt that addiction takes a toll on a person’s mental and physical health and can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. However, choosing a non-smoking recovery centre can lead to substantial improvements in mental wellbeing both during and after inpatient treatment.

Recent research published by BMC Psychiatry reports that smoking was associated with “mental distress, quality of life and treatment drop-out among patients in primary alcohol use disorder treatment”. The findings indicate that smoking cessation should be recommended as an integral part of treatment both before and during inpatient treatment to reduce mental distress and drop-out rates, and improve overall quality of life.

This research demonstrates the positive impact a non-smoking program can have on mental wellbeing both during and after inpatient treatment.

6. Nicotine detox can be managed in a safe environment with professional support

Research from American Addiction Centres reports that up to 80% of smokers who begin treatment for addiction do want to quit smoking as well. Additionally, the majority of patients in treatment believe it is better to quit smoking within six months of stopping drugs or alcohol than waiting until later.

Choosing a non-smoking recovery centre provides individuals with the advantage of managing nicotine detoxification within a safe and supportive environment. This approach ensures a smoother and more effective detox process while minimising potential health risks.

Additionally, the comprehensive care provided in non-smoking recovery centres goes beyond physical detoxification. Nicotine withdrawal can give rise to psychological and emotional challenges that can be directly addressed in treatment through holistic and personalised support.

7. It’s an opportunity to be free of a smoking addiction and its long-term detrimental effects

Some people don’t put smoking in the same category as addictions to alcohol and illegal drugs. Smoking may seem like one of the more “innocent” addictions in the context of addictions to other substances. However, statistics show otherwise.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use kills more than eight million people annually, making it one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide. This staggering figure is comparable to the fatalities attributed to substance abuse, highlighting the gravity of the issue.

Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that smoking causes:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Lung health concept, harm of smoking on the lung

Smoking also increases the risks of other diseases like tuberculosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Even more alarming, mortality statistics suggest that more people with alcoholism die from smoking-related diseases than from alcohol-related diseases.

Just as drug and alcohol addiction wreaks havoc on physical health, nicotine addiction wreaks havoc on multiple organ systems. Nicotine addiction, like drug and alcohol addiction, can lead to a reduced quality of life, strained relationships, and other negative physical, mental, and emotional outcomes.

The notion that smoking is less dangerous than addictions to drugs and alcohol is a dangerous fallacy that belies the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The statistics speak for themselves, illustrating the dangerous toll of nicotine addiction on both individuals and society at large.

Opting for a non-smoking recovery centre can provide individuals with an ideal opportunity to be free of their smoking addiction and avoid these long-term detrimental effects to their health and overall wellbeing.

What is the bottom line?

Choosing a non-smoking drug and alcohol recovery centre is a decision that can positively transform the trajectory of a person’s recovery journey. The science-packed benefits of eliminating smoking during addiction recovery are substantial, ranging from reduced cravings and triggers to improved mental health and long-term success.

At Camino Recovery, we believe the interconnectedness of smoking and substance abuse should be acknowledged and that addressing both addictions during recovery allows for a more comprehensive and holistic approach to treatment, with better outcomes for our clients.

However, we also respect that this approach isn’t for everyone and would always recommend that you thoroughly research a range of addiction recovery centres to ensure you find the best fit for you and your personal needs.

How can Camino Recovery help?

Now, picture this: You wake up to the gentle embrace of the Spanish sun, its warm rays casting a golden hue over the stunning Sierra de Tejeda mountain range. You breathe in the crisp, invigorating fresh air, feeling a sense of renewal.

Nestled in the heart of southern Spain’s Andalusian coast, Camino Recovery offers more than just a place of healing. It provides an oasis of tranquillity where personalised treatment plans pave the way to long-lasting recovery.

From evidence-based therapies led by professional counsellors, to holistic approaches that promote authentic healing, you’ll embark on a transformative recovery experience, surrounded by natural beauty and supported by our compassionate team every step of the way.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health or addiction, contact us today to find out if Camino Recovery is the right fit for you. In the event that we’re not the best facility for your needs, we will still complete an assessment for you at no charge and provide you with referrals for trusted treatment providers with whom we work closely.

David Scourfield

David Scourfield is a Camino Recovery team member since 2017, focused on facilitating communication with Clinical and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive understanding of Camino's program.

Combining his marketing skills and lived experiences, he joined Camino in 2017, contributing to external publications and the Camino website. With a strong belief in solidarity during the recovery process, David helps clients build support networks by connecting them with others in recovery.

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